Regardless of how many journalists do, you’re not allowed to call the B.C.T.F. “one of B.C.’s most militant unions” anymore.
It’s a ridiculous thing to say.
If a militant union, let’s say the Longshoremen’s Union , was offered zero percent for six years of the last twelve, and in seventy six consecutive “negotiating “ sessions, their employers demanded, at the table and through the media, that they accept zero percent and then accused the union of refusing to bargain, we would see a “militant” union in action.
Now imagine that over twelve years, the Longshoremen’s employer had been repeatedly censured for bargaining in bad faith, by the United Nations, (10 times), the Supreme Court of Canada, (2007) and the Supreme Court of B.C. (twice) Imagine too that the employer blithely ignored every ruling.
The Longshoremen wouldn’t still be “ bargaining”.The docks would close until the outrage was fixed, regardless of the anti union media buzz, back to work legislation, or an uninformed public suspicious that it’s “both sides” or just the “union’s”, fault.
The Longshormen’s Union wouldn’t be merely refusing to do paperwork or staging rotating loading slowdowns, or being apologetic for their justifiable outrage after twelve years of non –bargaining.
If their employer then suggested that if they didn’t accept a pittance final offer within a few weeks, they would actually cut their salaries by five percent, or ten percent or whatever whim told them was fair, any real union would close down the industry until some sanity and actual bargaining was restored. How would a militant union like the Longshoremen respond ?
The B.C.T.F. is not one of B.C.’s most militant unions. That’s the problem. They’re not very good at this fighting thing. Teachers hate labour disputes, in fact, they dislike disputes of any kind. That’s why they became teachers; they like discussing, collaborating- everyone playing nice.
And teachers never wanted to be a union. Bill Vanderzalm made them choose between being a labour union or remaining a Professional Federation with reduced collective bargaining rights. It was still a close vote.
Since 1995, teachers strikes have closed schools for 14 days, ten of which came in a single response to the tearing up of contracts. That’s still less than a day per year.
Annual government education cuts have caused school districts to lengthen Spring Break, go to four-day weeks, and adopt other cost saving measures responsible for many more lost school days than the “militant” B.C.T.F. has ever caused.
The B.C.T.F. is not one of B.C.’s “most militant” unions, – it’s one of B.C.’s most reluctant unions – that’s why twelve years of censured, unethical and unconstitutional government behaviour towards teachers continues.