Time for teachers to question union

BCTF president Jim Iker continues the rhetoric from last year's strike, despite a devastating loss at appeal court

VICTORIA – After the first few glum lines of his speech, it was difficult to tell anything had changed for B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker as he took his familiar place before the TV cameras last week.

Iker droned on about how B.C. schools are under-funded by hundreds of millions of dollars, echoing demands from the disastrous strike he led the union membership into last year.

The B.C. Court of Appeal had just overturned a bizarre trial court decision that tried to give the union everything it wanted: a trip back in time to the NDP wonderland of 2001, a constitutional spanking for the B.C. Liberal government and a $2 million bonus of taxpayers’ money.

The BCTF must now pay back that $2 million and scrape up whatever is left of its members’ compulsory dues to plead for an appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada, continuing the executive’s self-righteous fantasy of controlling education spending in B.C.

The appeal court didn’t just overturn the judgment of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin. It shredded her legal reasoning and bluntly corrected her, over and over, on evidence she ignored or misinterpreted.

The appeal court confirmed at great length what I said when Griffin’s second decision came down in early 2014: it was far worse for B.C. schools than when judges decided in 2005 that teachers can bring union propaganda into classrooms.

Did the government bargain in bad faith? No. Did they conspire to provoke a strike? No. Did they illegally strip working conditions from the teacher contract? No. Turns out our kids are not just “working conditions” for teachers, and public policy still matters.

And it turns out that making special needs assistants dash between classes to deal with two kids here and three over there was a lousy idea. Now there’s even a credit course offered in high school for students with learning difficulties, which probably has some BCTF minion crafting a pile of grievances about segregation.

In the negotiated settlement reached last fall, teachers shared $105 million to make thousands of baseless grievances go away, after the union filed one for student numbers in every class in the province. This bloated perpetual protest machine drains the public purse in more ways than taxpayers realize.

Parents understand the strikes, though. They remember a union that scrapped report cards, disrupted administration and forced schools to shut down at graduation time.

The strike then dragged into the fall, as the government held the line on public service spending. And what was the key issue that kept schools closed? It wasn’t special needs support, where student performance has continued to improve. No, it was the BCTF demanding a raise twice as big as other public sector unions had already accepted.

In the end, their paltry strike fund long gone, the union grudgingly accepted the going rate. They figured they had the elected government on the run in court. Wrong again.

Next up for the ministry is taking control of professional development. A bill before the legislature will enforce standards, once the NDP is done denouncing it. Singing Solidarity Forever around a campfire and calling it paid professional development (a real example, by the way) will soon go the way of the union-controlled College of Teachers – onto the scrap heap of history.

There are BCTF members who understand how ill-served they are by their union. They are looking critically at the performance of their leaders, who are too often distracted by grandiose “social justice” campaigns as far away as the Middle East.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Jared Popma recently streamed a live concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. (Ashley Daniel Foot photo)
21-year-old jazz artist talks favourite tunes and joys of music theory

Jared Popma recently streamed a concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything

Have you even been forced to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read