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Sunday 2 June 2013

Is a 10 year deal with teachers' union good for B.C.? Laila Yuile weighs in

Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day.
From: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/06/02/premiers-meddling-derailed-respectful-tone-of-current-negotiations

This week’s topic:

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.
A 10-year contract with teachers might be good for the government, but is it good for the province as a whole? Absolutely not. The teachers and the employers had been quietly and peacefully negotiating for several months prior to the election, and were about to resume this week. It's not even a case of good intentions with bad execution. This is nothing but public relations and bad politics.
The reason why contracts are generally negotiated for a period of three to four years is to allow both sides to re-assess factors such as inflation and the economy, which impact both an employer and workers. No one can predict what the situation is going to be like four years down the road. Is this really about education and children, or is this about setting a precedent and sending a message to other unions the province must negotiate with in the future? If so, I see anything but labour peace under Clark’s leadership.
Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.

Original Post: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/06/02/premiers-meddling-derailed-respectful-tone-of-current-negotiations

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