L.R.B. – A big Win For the Anti –Teacher Dream Team
Having fought the teachers virtually single handedly for the past twelve years, Premier Christy Clark now has impressive reinforcements to help her in her battle against B.C.’s teachers.
Nothing demonstrates her new team’s commitment and talent more than their recent big win at the Labour Relations Board that says government can dock teacher’s pay over and above the lost salary they lose on strike days.
The ruling was a much-needed Liberal “win “ in the ongoing battle against teachers. It gives government a free hand to dock teacher’s pay as much as they feel appropriate.
For teachers, it’s just another lash, part of a continuing twelve-year flogging.
But for the government, consensus bargaining meanies after repeated court censure for bargaining in bad faith, the ruling was crucial; it is the first institutional sanction of their actions.
The ruling not only helps resurrect a tarnished public image, it’s also an invaluable future cudgel, to goad teacher’s into a strike which will save the government money, outrage talk show hosts, and help convince a long suffering public that teachers have been the problem all along, as we’ve always suspected.
So this L.R.B. ruling begs the question;
If you were a government whose bargaining strategies had been serially censured by international, national and provincial judiciaries, would you have rolled the dice on being indicted once more by the B.C.’s Labour relations Board?
No, you wouldn’t – unless you had a pretty good idea what the outcome was going to be; and Ms. Clark’s anti teacher dream team knew.
Whether the fix was in at the L.R.B. , or whether past labour experience assured a strategy that assured victory, is a moot point – the government knew going in that they would win this one.
Salary cutting retribution is a further example of the startling depth of Premier Clark’s malevolence towards teachers.
But winning the L.R.B. ruling shows more than just how much Premier Clark hates teachers, it also demonstrates the experience and skill of a team capable and willing to develop diabolical labour relations strategies.
Finally, Ms. Clark has assembled an effective anti teacher dream team; a posse with the skill, the will and experience to effectively operationalize the Premier’s vendetta against teachers.
B.C.’s Anti Teacher Dream Team
It might, as some bloggers insist, be a result of a Freudian dislike of her teacher father. It could be lingering resentment over S.F.U.’s stripping her of her election as student president due to alleged unfair campaign practices. Whatever it is, it’s clear – Christy Clark doesn’t like teachers.
She has singlehandedly waged a war on teachers and public education since 2002, the year of the original sin; her contract stripping bill 22. Except for a brief sabbatical as a CKNW talk show host (when the lone negotiated teacher’s contract was signed), Ms. Clark has set the tone in the province’s fight against teachers to the point that she has lost credibility as even a supporter of public education.
But she needed help in her fight. She needed other voices to battle teachers, so she could remain above the fray,concerned, just like the long suffering public, as if a salary cut and ignoring Supreme Court rulings had nothing to do with her.
“Both sides should grow up and negotiate a settlement,” says Premier Clark.
She now favours locking both sides in a room until they reach a settlement.
Now heading up public relations for the dream team is Education Minister Peter Fassbender. The seemingly reasonable Fassbender cut his political teeth as a School Trustee in Langley in the 1970’s; a school board reknowned as one of the loopiest and most regressive, school boards in B.C.
The Langley School Board championed “fundamental schools” and banning books. Trustee Fassbender favoured the return of corporal punishment to the schools and was outwardly anti union;
“ The B.C.T.F. should clean up its act and stay out of education… “
We can all evolve in our beliefs, but Minister Fassbender’s words and actions show he has not evolved from his regressive Langley roots ; rather, he’s just polished his presentation a bit.
He’s smooth, seems reasonable, always regretful that the B.C.T.F. won’t be reasonable. The statesman’s veneer however, is thin and getting thinner.
Mr. Fassbender brings an urbane suit and political flair to the Premier’s team. He’s “looking out” for the taxpayer; trying so hard to crack the shell of a union that everyone knows can’t get along with anyone.
B.C.P.S.E.A.’s chief negotiator against the teachers, Peter Cameron gets the credit for this recent L.R.B. victory. Remember how puzzled we all were at the seemingly confusing “lockout” conditions imposed by the government?
The partial lockout strategy was the brainchild of Mr. Cameron, drawn from his vast experience in labour negotiating and dealing with the L.R.B. He began as a union labour representative (CAIMAW) and in 1992, was appointed Deputy Health minister in the 1992 N.D.P. government
He’s looked at life from both sides now and much prefers representing the management side of labour disputes, where he operates more freely, without having to worry about the pesky rank and file.
There’s nothing worse than a reformed smoker, and Mr. Cameron’s turn away from labour has hardened him as an adversary of the teachers. Mr. Cameron is a veteran of the L.R.B. and teachers are woefully inexperienced, compared with union and company squabbles Mr. Cameron has fought for and against.
Mr. Cameron’s lockout strategy with teachers came from a similar situation ( the Pascar ruling 1989) when he was furious that a company successfully used a similar lockout strategy against the union he was representing.
Clearly define the work day, explain how teachers are doing less work than usual and poof, you win at the L.R.B. Peter Cameron knew how to win at the L.R.B. because it had been done to him years earlier. He knew they would win the judgment ; especially since he knew he had this next dream team ally refereeing at the L.R.B.
Labour leaders collectively groaned when Premier Clark re- appointed the anti labour L.R.B. chair shortly after she became premier.
Mr. Mullin’s ten year L.R.B, chairmanship has seen B.C.’s labour code continuously amended in management’s favour. Mr. Mullin’s regime has made it easier for companies to fight unions and has also been inappropriately partisan, publically criticizing the economic policies of the N.D.P..
B.C. is now the only jurisdiction in North America that doesn’t have both business and labour members on its labour relations board.
B.C’.’s Labour Relations Board was an early model in North America, a vision of Bill King, Labour Minister to the Barrett government in the seventies.
The Board has gone south under Mr Mullin’s anti labour judgments, but the Labour Relations Board is still regarded as impartial by some, so their rulings give anti teacher strategies an air of institutional credibility.
In his role as the Russian judge, Brent Mullin is an invisible but invaluable member of Premier Clark’s anti teacher dream team.
<p;And it may get worse….
Premier Clark’s anti teacher dream team has the polish, the experience, and the demonstrated amorality to fight and fight dirty.The division of labour is clear and focused,; Minister Fassbender doing everything he can to paint the B.C.T.F. as unreasonable, while Peter Cameron searches for labour precedents that he can use to stick it to teachers. With the L.R.B. chair in their pocket, and the media., led by C.K.N.W. chanting anti teacher rhetoric, things look bleak for teachers.
They have embraced the Premier’s “from my cold dead hand “ attitude and will not be deterred in this fight.
Don’t be surprised to see a more receptive hearing of the government’s contract stripping appeal this fall, much more friendly to the government.The government has a few months to prepare and grease the skids…
They may well win the appeal, the coup de grace the dream team will work night and day to deliver.
Don’t underestimate the depth of Premier Clark’s determination to punish teachers and public education.
The anti teacher dream team’s only Kryptonite, is public opinion. Teachers have hard earned goodwill capital to spend and they have social media.
Past that they have each other, and their determination to save public education in B.C.
Follow Jim Nelson on Twitter – “@jimnelson806”
Or his blog ; “Schools, Politics, and Other Stuff</p>