These skirmishes as painful as they are for the participants are just battles in
a Titanic struggle between the Post WW2 consensus to set aside the vicious class
warfare of the 1920 and 1930s. We all thought this type of thing was behind us
many decades ago but it was masked by post war prosperity and a focus on uniting
the western populations against the Soviet Union. This papered over deep
unresolved issues on the nature of western capitalism and its variants.
Will our society slowly gravitate the social-democratic model exemplified by the
northern European nations or will the 1%ers use their virtual control over
politics, the major media backstopped if and when necessary by the raw power of
the state seen in the G7 demonstrations and the politics of the street?
The government forces seem bent and determined to destroy the free collective
bargaining process and if necessary break the unions and subject teachers,
public workers and even private sectors workers to employer imposed contracts.
We could see that in the McGuinty Liberal Bill 22 suspension of collective
bargaining for teachers¡¯ unions and CUPE. We can see it in the rollback of
earned sick days, and the refusal of the BC Liberal government to accept the BS
Supreme court ruling on the right to negotiate class size and composition or
even give a modest raise in the face of other provinces paying much more.
The constant refrain of TINA ¨C There is No Alternative is a pathetic joke in the
face of governments with many revenue tools at their disposal. This leaves a
deep seated sense of bitterness amongst the people you expect to teach
democratic values. The CPI is running over 2% so every year of less than a 2%
raise represents a serious pay CUT. The GD stock market is roaring. Dow over
17000, S&P, NASDAQ you name it, no problem yet the biz/gov rulers turn
themselves inside out over pathetic increases in the minny wage. They seem to
think collective bargaining is a luxury reserved for boom times that can be
simply suspended when it is inconvenient.
We were more than pleased to see the backbone shown by ETFO delegates at their
summer conference where they faced down the Premier and Minister of Education
and let them know that their recent election victory was not an endorsement of
the present positions of the Ontario government notwithstanding the defeat of
the far right loons of the Ontario PCs.
The Ontario Liberal Party has made itself a political enemy of the federations
and there should be no equivocation on this matter. To have any future the
Ontario federations need to put 100% of their political muscle behind the NDP at
least for the foreseeable future.
In both Ontario and BC, teachers and workers who vote for the Liberals are truly
like the mice voting for the cat. How much abuse do some people need to wake up?
Some Liberal union members seem to have Stockholm Syndrome explaining the
government¡¯s position to members instead of presenting the members position to
As to specifics ¨C In BC a crack mediator Vince Ready is working now but reports
the parties to be miles apart. If it continues BCTF has polled their members on
options - rotating strikes, work to rule or all out strike continuing. The
government may let a strike run a couple of weeks and then order the teachers
back to work with or without arbitration. The government fears arbitrations more
than the teachers.
The boards want to postpone the entire dispute until the BCSC has heard a
Liberal appeal of their decision to side with the teachers on the teachers¡¯
right to negotiate class size-composition. Any way you slice it, bitterness in
In Ontario, the government is cutely saying ¡°we won the election but not the
lottery.¡± ¨C No new money for teacher settlements. This means no raise until 2017
after 2 years of no raises already. One can hope for a backend loaded 4 year
contract with raises of 0,0,4,4% but the government will resist even that since
they just settled a deal with AMAPSEO at a much lower rate.
I would suggest teachers in BC and Ontario work-to-rule. This means no extra-
curricular, no trips, no coverage for absent teachers, no meetings, just teach
their assigned periods maybe picket in turns for half hour as kids leave, talk
to parents, and go home. This will be the first Ontario province-wide withdrawal
In conclusion teachers, and education workers need to wake the hell up. An
international war is being waged on behalf of the 1%ers like the Koch Brothers,
The Waltons of Wal-Mart, types. They are making a concerted effort to roll back
wages and working conditions to pre WW2 pre Roosevelt levels. Only a united
labour movement working with a single ¡®labour party¡¯ stands a ghost of a chance
to resist this and reverse it and build a progressive, democratic, fair society.
I will repeat my favourite Warren Buffet line. ¡°There is a class war in America.
My class started it and we are winning¡¡±.
Teachers, education workers and labour in general must utilize the most modern,
sophisticated political tactics. This is all on top of our traditional
We need elaborate, seat by seat, even poll by poll plans for future elections.
The so-called ¡®progressive¡¯ leadership of my old friend Kathleen Wynne of the
Liberal Party has only amounted to saying NO in a much nicer ¨C I feel your pain,
kind of way. It still amounts to NO!!!
The Liberal Parties in both BC and Ontario are now clearly hopelessly
reactionary and totally undeserving of any teacher/worker support. The teachers
in BC at least seem to recognize this.
The federation executives must rid themselves of Liberals in a democratic way
and remind any Liberal oriented staff that their loyalty is to the federation
and failure to understand this will not go well for their staff future. They
should be expected to rip up Liberal Party cards.
There is far too much wooly mindedness when what is needed is steely minded,
clear thinking and resolve.
The Liberal Party in Ontario threw teachers/workers under the bus in McGuinty¡¯s
Without labour support for some Liberals we would be looking at minority
government and decent raises.