Today my wife and I got in a carpool full of teachers and headed down to the ferry to storm the castle in Victoria. With some inspiring fight songs on the road we made it to a ferry that I think had about five teachers for every random commuter.
Every corner you turned there was someone either carrying or making a sign.
We even had a visit from the living dead.
Bill 22 is our provincial government’s proposed solution to stalled contract bargaining. It “fixes” this by setting a government-chosen (ie. non-independent) mediator in place who has to “mediate” negotiations within the limits set in place by the government, pass along some recommendation which the government will then legislate in place. The mandate includes suggestions from the employer such as removing our control over our professional development time, putting easily-abused criteria like “suitability to the school” on the same level as experience and seniority, and more. It also specifically removes changes that were added ten-ish years ago that were recently deemed illegal by the BC Supreme Court – only to then re-add the same language almost exactly later on in the same bill.
“We removed the parts you said are illegal! Problem solved!’
“But then you added the EXACT SAME THING back in.”
“Oh, that’s a new law – you’ll have to take that to court all over again!”
Classy! And did I mention that this was the bit that defined limits on class size and composition – limits that kept classrooms manageable and helped keep kids from falling between the cracks? Right.
So anyway, we met and marched down Government Street:
The undead shambled past us at some point, making for a great photo op as we carried the ADTA banner.
Here’s me looking a bit cheesy.
And we arrived at the Legislature lawn. (Sorry, Comrade Groundskeeper, although I noticed you showed your support by keeping grass long enough that it didn’t turn into a total mud puddle!)
Other unions showed up with banners flying in support. We found out later about picket lines being set up on non-school locations to bring other union workers to the rally – nice. (There was some fuss about whether this was violating the terms set by the LRB, but I don’t even know if it was teachers doing the picketing or other unions.)
Here’s our crew standing tall with our fancy ADTA banner:
I was impressed to see students make an official appearance in support as well.
The entire Flickr stream is available with some more pictures. It was a beautiful day, and the atmosphere at the rally was generally really positive. The only highlight that wasn’t mentioned by the news coverage was a special-ed teacher who shared how the government’s actions have impacted her, and teachers in similar positions, for the last ten years. Watching support positions disappear, watching more and more special-needs students packed into classrooms with little or no support, and teachers left to magically “differentiate” their instruction for everyone in an environment where they can’t even find face-time with each kid every day, never mind understand all their needs and adapt the curriculum for them all.
Anyway, I can’t do her speech justice; I think the BCTF got the entire rally recorded, and her bit (near the beginning of the rally) is worth hunting down. I’ll try to update again later with more links to things.
I hope the message gets out there that this is NOT just about the 15% pay increase. (A number which sounds large until you look at just how long our cost-of-living adjustments have been left in the cold; this is just catching up for short-sighted “savings” in the past decade.) Teachers were out there for bigger reasons than money. We want to be able to bargain our contract fairly, with actual bargaining and not just an employer stalling for time until they can have everything they want legislated into our contract. We want to have previous illegal actions undone, not just shuffled under the carpet and left there. And most of all, we want to be able to do our jobs well with the support the kids deserve.