Education system needs a fresh approach that offers labour peace

Brent Stafford theQ Leave a Comment

theQuestion: Is a 10-year deal with the teachers’ union good for B.C.?*

During the past 18 months, Laila and I have been engaged in a lively debate about B.C. politics. She, of course, was adamant the BC Liberals would lose the election and I was adamant they would win. The voters decided. However, our debate continues and I’m thankful for the opportunity to now share our debate with you the reader.

I supported the BC Liberals in the last election because more often than not their positions align with my own. Case in point, the government’s proposal for a 10-year contract with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. It makes sense for students, parents and teachers.

I am bemused by Laila’s points in her column, as they seem to support what is my fundamental opinion, the BCTF routinely deploys bargaining tactics that hurt students. This is one of the reasons I believe the traditional approach to bargaining with the BCTF is fatally flawed.

The BCTF is an organization that wakes up angry and goes to bed angry. In my lifetime I have never known a time when the teachers’ union was content with salary, class size or workload. No government, not even the NDP, has been able to manage the union’s irrational beliefs or placate its unrealistic demands. I am reminded of a quote from Shakespeare: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Teachers have “thought” themselves into a corner, they think they are mad, so they are mad. The BCTF needs a time out.

I believe a respectful negotiation and implementation of a 10-year labour agreement between the province and teachers will provide a much-needed break from the never-ending cycle of threats, withdrawals of service, mediation, arbitration and job action. It would allow teachers, students, the government and labour activists to focus on what matters most, building a better future for B.C.

The government’s proposed plan sounds reasonable. In exchange for a 10-year agreement teachers would get a voice in allocating dedicated new funding to priorities, a formal role in policy decisions and compensation increases indexed to an average of other major public sector unions. It’s worth a try.

I’d like to remind Laila the plan was released in January. It was in the BC Liberals’ election platform, citizens voted and the government was re-elected. It should be no surprise the premier is now acting to implement the plan. Elections matter.

*First published in 24hrs Vancouver ‘theDuel’

About the Author

Brent Stafford

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Political commentator, opinion columnist and veteran television producer. He is the founder and executive producer at and Contact: or 778.896.7794

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