O Christmas Tree!

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As our strike drags on, I’m looking for an alternate source of income.

I thought I’d found the perfect opportunity when I heard of O, a friend of a friend, who recently bought a Christmas tree farm. She’s hiring Christmas tree pruners.

I enjoy visiting farms (especially if they have on site wineries!) and I love Christmas. Could there be a better fit for an uncoordinated striking teacher with little wilderness experience?

I called O, introduced myself and volunteered for duty.

“It’s hard work,” she warned.

“Not a problem,” I gushed.

“Would you like to use clippers or a sword?”

A sword???

“Could you repeat that?”

“Clippers or a sword?” she asked. “Since you’re new to Christmas tree pruning, you might want to start with clippers. The swords are harder to control.”

Have I mentioned I’m one of the least coordinated people I know?

“Put me down for clippers.”

“What about a dog?” she asked.

“What about a dog?” If there’ll be dogs around, it’s a good thing I won’t be swinging a sword through the trees.

“If you have one, you might want to bring him,” she said. “For the bears.”

Bears???

“I don’t think my dog would be good for the bears.”

“Not a problem. You’ll just have to be extra-vigilant since you don’t have a dog to scare them away.”

Is it too late to change my mind and choose the sword?

On the Line

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After weekend talks between the BCTF (Teachers’ Union) and BCPSEA (Dirty Rotten Government Negotiators) failed spectacularly, we’re on a full-scale strike.

Many of us believed a last-minute deal could be reached. Hopes were dashed when we learned the union’s offer (presented Friday afternoon) wasn’t even countered until Sunday evening. So much for the “round the clock” bargaining we’d all been promised.

Not surprisingly, the union’s package bringing the two sides to only 1% apart on wages wasn’t accepted. The real shocker was the government’s counter: they moved backwards in the bargaining process, offering LESS than in their previous offer.

Sigh–at this rate, I’ll be getting a bill from my school district at the end of June.

At least the weather has been good, so the mood on the line remains upbeat. Surely, there will be a positive end to his miserable situation soon.

Drawing an afternoon picketing shift on a scorching hot day, I had an opportunity to bring out an article of clothing that hasn’t seen the light of day since our 2010 Hawaiian vacation: my Tilley hat!

Tilley hats are made in Canada (go, Canada!) They float, repel rain, block UV rays, won’t shrink and even make you a latte and oatmeal every morning. Okay, they don’t actually cook breakfast, but they do come in size extra large–important for someone like me with (true confession) an oversize head. Hats never fit me, but my XL Tilley Hat does.

So, I may be involved in an ugly labour dispute, but at least I got to take a selfie in my Tilley hat.

Oh, and dogs: super cute dogs are on the line with us, offering their special brand of canine support and stealing our Timbits when they think no one is looking.

Things aren’t so bad, after all.

Strike One!

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Labour unrest thrives here.

It’s tit for tat.

They illegally strip class size and composition concessions from our contract. We move to stage one job action.

They threaten to roll back our wages 5%. We engage in province-wide rotating strikes.

They impose a partial lock out and roll back our wages 10%.

They say potato. We say potahto.

Sigh–I wish we could call the whole thing off.

Today I got an email from the president of our local. Because I’m the staff rep for our department, I have to go to my administrator first thing tomorrow with a list of questions about the lock out and how it will impact our ability to perform our jobs.

I get that we need clarification. No one seems to know what the complicated partial lock out entails. Even the negotiator who dreamed it up admits it will be “tweaked” as necessary because the situation remains “fluid.” I just don’t want to be the person who has to poke a stick at the hornet’s nest. (I should clarify that my boss’ office in no way resembles an actual hornet’s nest. She’s a reasonable woman who is likely just as frustrated by this situation as I am.)

I did what I usually do when I’m stressed and I need reassurance. I went to my sailor and whined at length about my predicament.

As the former Commanding Officer of a unit with a number of unionized Civilian employees, he has experience dealing with labour issues. Surely he would have some words of wisdom for me.

“If you didn’t want do stuff like this, you shouldn’t have volunteered to be a union rep.”

Thanks, honey. I feel so much better now.

Labour Unrest (Warning: Political Rant to Follow!)

001We’re on strike!

Well not a strike, exactly. I don’t think we’re allowed to do that. It’s a legally sanctioned stage one job action. And it’s very complicated.

We’re not attending any meetings with principals…unless it’s related to student safety, behaviour, custody issues, legal matters, or if the principal is directly involved in providing educational programming to said student.

We’re not doing supervision of students…unless the school is unable to manage providing adequate supervision using only non-BCTF staff.

I think that’s about it.

(We teachers are a tough bunch! Piss us off and we’ll…refuse to read your emails!)

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, we’re not accepting any electronic communications, aka emails, from principals. (That’ll hit ’em where it hurts!)

What are we doing it for? Well a little more money would be nice. (BC teachers are among the lowest paid in the country.) We’re also hoping to restore class size and composition to our collective agreement. These issues were illegally stripped from our contract about ten years ago.

Since then the union and the government have been involved in numerous court battles. The union has won three times, but every time a judge sides in our favour, the government changes a law or two and appeals the ruling.

I don’t know how much they’ve spent on lawyers, but I wish someone would tell them to direct that money into the school system.