This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Premier’s meddling derailed respectful tone of current negotiations

This week,I welcomed Brent Stafford to the Duel as we take on the question : Is a 10-year deal with the teachers’ union good for B.C.?

This week, I’d like to welcome Brent Stafford to the Duel, and wish him the best of luck. This week we take on yet another one of Premier Christy Clark’s Fantasy Island solutions for the province. This time, it’s the proposed 10-year contract Clark wants for teachers, which has predictably surfaced again post-election.

Like many parents, I have experienced up close the impact of labour disputes between the teachers and employers. So have my children. I don’t agree with some of the tactics that have been used by teachers and the union in past disputes — in particular not filling out report cards, which is the only indicator many parents have of how their child is performing in school. Many people agree with me on that point, whether they are parents or not. Clearly it is our children who suffer when job action escalates.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has historically been seen to work on an agenda that isn’t always supported by its own members. Recognizing that there had to be a better way to conduct bargaining and negotiations, teachers and the BC Public School Employers’ Association sat down and agreed upon a respectful framework to continue talks. It appeared to be going well — until Clark told the employers to toss out everything and push for a 10-year contract. It’s Clark’s way, or the highway, and it changes the current respectful tone of negotiations to one that’s clearly confrontational.

Read the rest of this week’s column, and vote for who you think shoud win at

14 thoughts on “This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Premier’s meddling derailed respectful tone of current negotiations

  1. I’m with Laila on this. A 10 year contract would be a mistake for both teachers and government. To be fair and equitable, the contract would have to have an escape clause for both sides. How likely is that to happen? Three years is workable, with a possible extension for one more year, if both parties agree.


  2. While it is up in the air as to whether Christy Clark has earned a mandate through the election for her platform, I have heard and am still hearing from many parents that a 10 year deal is reasonable on the basis that the threat of a strike and the impending consequences on their children would not happen for a lengthier period of time than normal.


    1. I do think some parents agree with that, but having been there myself, and still currently, I am not hearing overwhelming support for it by far from anyone other than Clark supporters 😉 By far, long time parents are asking for changes to the system and more funding in certain sectors that allow for everyone to learn without interferences that even a 20 year contract would do nothing to improve.


      1. That also is true. I also think it is important for both groups to distinguish between increasing funding for education and raising teachers salaries – two very different things that do not necessarily achieve the same outcome or intended outcome.


  3. I agree with your standpoint. The union using kids as pawns but say it is all about them as if they care any amount. for a well paid group with ridiculous time off and those very insane Pro-d days always taken on Friday or Monday, I’ve had enough. It will continue to drive kids to private schools for parents with the money.
    Ask a teacher if another $5,000 a year will make them better teachers. AN ASSISTANT????? for WHAT? How many hours a day do teachers work? What…about 180 days a year? I’ll NEVER refer to them as educators.


  4. Gary… would you rather that teachers take Pro-D days on Wednesdays?

    When I was a kid, there was one — or maybe two — Pro-D days in a school year. Since then, government and teachers have added the others to the school year. For no extra pay.

    If an extra $5,000 a year wouldn’t make a better teacher… taking away $5,000 likely wouldn’t make one worse. Let’s try that experiment in the workforce, starting with YOUR job. No?

    The catch-up wage asks of the last bargaining round were a poor starting-point, as is this 10-year contract proposal. After two years of 0% wage increases — against 2 to 3% annual inflation — there has to be something in the wage package. That’s only fair.

    Assistant??? For what? Put a profoundly autistic child in a class and see if an assistant is needed. If a school or class is assessed as having no special needs students, there are no assistants supplied.

    I don’t think any teacher would complain about their time off per year. It’s a great benefit, that starts right from the rookie year.

    I’m fine with you never calling them educators. I call them teachers, too… or colleagues.


  5. Laila: why do the comments on 24 Hrs get closed… after about the first 24 hours? I’ve noticed that, the past few weeks. Is it their policy, to shut the door after a handful of +/- comments?


  6. Yes, teacher performance is lacking. And yes, parents hear little about their childrens’ progress.

    These teachers are undeniably expensive. They are supposedly very well-trained -training for which the taxpayer is forced to pay. They have plum jobs with enviable job security, protection from cheaper or more cost-efficient job competition, virtually guaranteed raises every contract and numerous benefits.

    If they or their union is the problem, remove collective “bargaining” and institute renewable, individual one- or two-year contracts. Pay better teachers, not merely those with “seniority” ,more…job competition and the threat of layoffs can work wonders!


    1. Kredit, aside from your obvious right-wing leanings, where do you find facts to back up your statement that “teacher performance is lacking”? Surely, you lack the personal ability to perform any simple research of your own! One doesn’t have to look too far to note that student outcomes for BC consistently sit amongst the top rankings for educational jurisdictions around the world.
      Also, where did you get the idea that the “taxpayer is forced to pay” for a teacher’s training? Last time I looked, a teacher had to pay their way through 5 years of university, and without the help of any government-funded bursaries. Look to nurses if you want to see taxpayer-funded training and high wages. But we need them, don’t we?
      Lastly, your idea of “right to work” legislation is a page right from Republican books. We all know how that is working out, don’t we?


  7. Joe, I don’t really even care if teacher performance needs improvement or not. Actually, I think most are quite dedicated, if institutional, at their jobs…

    But the taxpayer IS forced to pay. We have to hire union teachers, on ever more expensive collective “agreements” and are prevented from hiring cheaper replacements. This is simply another government-mandated subsidization and stifling of the free market, this time in the field of labour…

    Union teachers are forever trying to justify the absurd salaries they receive with…
    —“I spent X years in university so I deserve Y amount…”
    —“I need X salary because living costs are high/higher/rising…”
    —“other teachers in other jurisdictions receive X amount so I should too”
    —“I work hard – my job is difficult – so I deserve X amount”
    —“I need more because of inflation”

    Despite this they will resist to the death opening the available jobs to competition. Thus the system deteriorates in terms of debt load, infrastructure, class sizes, facilities and equipment, intramurals, etc., etc., even as governments spend more and more on teacher pay.

    In the no-real-growth economy of the future, a ten-year contract is not only a prudent move but an absolute NECESSITY. When push comes to shove financially, It will eventually be that or outright salary cuts and layoffs.


  8. Kreditanstalt says: ” Thus the system deteriorates in terms of debt load, infrastructure, class sizes, facilities and equipment, intramurals, etc., etc., even as governments spend more and more on teacher pay.”
    The BC education system has not deteriorated at all. It is still one of the best in the world. The curriculum continues to be revised to make it fit in with present day needs. Teachers continue to improve themselves with their Pro D days, which have been added to the school year at the request of the teachers.


  9. Kreditanstalt, your anti-union angle may be hard to bend — but I’ll try.

    I know a young family man who works for a successful construction firm in the Fraser Valley. Last year, he came home with the surprising news that his BOSS wanted the employees to unionize. Basically, the owner was tired of people doing the same job but being paid at all sorts of different rates — and workers who were lower-paid, coming and asking for wage increases.

    It was agreed that no one would be down-graded in their pay… the lower-paid would have a catch-up time put in the contract.

    It took a few months to organize but now both sides are happier. There’s a contract for both sides to live up to. There are standards laid out. There’s simplicity for the payroll department. There’s stability and predictability — and that’s not just good for the employees… the employer can also use that in making his bids.


  10. Let’s not forget the BC Lieberal government is all about breaking the unions whichever way works. There is nothing the government does that is for the benifit of the people of British Columbia – it is all about privatization and keeping their rich backers rich.
    Also, regardless of what the private sector says (employers), there would not be the high standard of living that we Canadians enjoy without the unions. The wages paid would be pennies on the dollar had the companies had their way – keeping all profits to make fat cats even fatter. Those who condemn the unions should spend a few moments to think of what they might have had, had the unions not fought for workers rights, workers safety and fair wages. It is so fundemental that Ford motor c ompany went along with the unions way back in the early 1900’s. Even Ford realized that wihtout workers having adequate pay, they would not be able to sell the motor cars they made.
    Back to the teachers – both sides are making political hay out of a fundemental principle. The government is being bloody minded and doesn’t seem to give any consideration as to what it’s role is.
    I grew up overseas and average class sizes were around 40+ pupils per class. Most kids did OK – but there wasn’t the almost constant battle with unions and wages etc. Ten years is ridiculous for a union agreement – no one else has to suffer this restriction, absolutely no one. Again, we get back to the BC Lieberal government and its confrontational approach to everything that literally forces litigation of some sort, which in turn severely handicaps any union. Not by accident of course, the government does what it can to break unions and their members.
    Got to say this new BC Lieberal government is gonna be the worst one yet – led by challenged leader of middling mental capacity. The big backers (large companies and corporations) are getting their way regardless of the consequencies to British Columbia, as their only consideration is profit only.
    Just my $0.02 for what it is worth worth.


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