The key issues identified in the current dispute involving the B.C. Teachers Federation and the B.C. Public Schools Employers Association centre on wage benefits and working conditions.
Specifically, on behalf of its members, the BCTF is requesting that BCPSEA, through the collective bargaining process, approve a deal for a wage increase and improved ratios for classroom size and composition. If you have been paying attention to the recent media coverage of this ongoing dispute, you will have read and heard the BCTF president, Jim Iker and various leaders of local teacher associations frequently reference that they are engaged, in part, in job action and now strike action because they are advocating for better learning conditions for students.
The BCTF mission statement reads as follows:
“The BCTF is a union of professionals that represents and advocates for the social, professional, and economic goals of teachers and promotes a quality pluralistic public school system through leadership and advocacy, professional development, collective bargaining and other services for members.”
Nowhere in the above mission statement is the term “student” used.
What is clear is that the mandate of the BCTF and its leadership is to advocate for its members (teachers).
In my opinion, it is misleading for Mr. Iker and other BCTF leadership members to suggest in any way that their goal in the current dispute is to represent the students in the public school system by bargaining for better learning conditions on their behalf. In essence, what the BCTF is doing by addressing class size and composition issues is bargaining for better working conditions for teachers.
Teachers in general are committed to and concerned about quality learning conditions for students, but the reality is that the political and professional mandate of their union is to represent them and advocate on their behalf, not students.