Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Thursday 21 February 2013

One Member, One Vote in the BCTF?


The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is reviewing its election procedures and a controversial call for every member to have a vote in leadership races.
But don’t expect speedy changes.
A staff report is to be discussed by the BCTF executive during a meeting this week and debated at the union’s annual general meeting in March. The report was ordered after the last AGM when there was a battle for the top job between the incumbent Susan Lambert and former Abbotsford president Rick Guenther.

Guenther lost for a number of reasons (including the fact the union was in the midst of tense contract talks), but his defeat in 2012 brought calls for a more democratic election process. As it now stands, only delegates to the annual general meeting are entitled to vote. They number about 700 and tend to be activists who back the reigning Coalition faction of the BCTF. All of the union’s table officers have come from the Coalition since David Chudnovsky ousted incumbent president Kit Krieger in 1999. Apart from last year, when it seemed the popular Guenther, an independent candidate, had a chance for victory, the results have been predictable -as they are again this year.

After Guenther’s loss,  some BCTF members began calling for a more democratic election process that would give all 38,000 members a vote, and they started a Facebook page called One Member One Vote. (It’s a closed group with just over 500 members.)
The report that will go before the executive during a meeting Thursday and Friday includes a history of BCTF voting procedures and a review of how other unions choose their leaders, second vice-president Glen Hansman told me. I haven’t seen the document and don’t know if it includes recommendations. It’s to go before the AGM in Vancouver on March 16-19 where it might spark motions for change.

Even if that happens, no immediate impact is expected and the line of succession will continue (barring some totally unexpected event). Jim Iker, who spent three years as second vice-president and three years as first vice-president, is the only candidate to replace Lambert when she retires at the end of June. Hansman, second vice-president, will replace Iker as first vice-president and president-in-waiting.

Among the three table officer positions, only that of second vice-president is contested. The Coalition’s Denise Moffatt is in competition with Teri Mooring, who is part of the One Member, One Vote group.

 Personally, I am interested in exploring ways to give more teachers a voice.

As an activist who has attended 6 AGMs (during my Spring Break), I feel it is difficult to fully represent all teachers in my local. Although I am an elected (or acclaimed) delegate, I still feel it is impossible to represent so many teachers.

700 some-odd teachers across BC go to the AGM and make decisions for all teachers across the Province.... I would love to investigate other ways to handle business that would allow more teachers to have a vote - starting with one member, one vote for our BCTF Executive Committee.

Often decisions not dealt with at the AGM are moved to Rep Assemblies or to the Executive Committee to handle. If we practice a true democracy and allow one member, one vote, to choose our BCTF EC, then we have all had a say in who will lead us.

No comments:

Post a Comment