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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 3, November/December 2005

Government accused of antifemale bias

A political science professor at Simon Fraser University says the Campbell government has an abysmal record in its dealings with female-dominated trade unions, including the BC Teachers’ Federation. Women currently make up about 70% of the BCTF membership who have been out on strike for the past two weeks.

Marjorie Griffen-Cohen, who teaches women’s studies and political science at SFU, notes this isn’t the first time the Campbell government has tangled with a female-dominated union. She points to the fight with the Hospital Employees’ Union over the past few years as an illustration of the government’s real attitude toward women workers.

She says the government rescinded the HEU’s existing contract, privatized jobs, and cut wages. "In the case of the hospital support workers, I think that this kind of care work that is being done by women is undervalued by the government, and I suspect they undervalue the extent of effort and skill and responsibility that is necessary to be a teacher."

Griffen-Cohen says teachers have received a lot of support from women during their current strike, perhaps because of the way they’ve been treated by the government. "I think we should care about the way they are treating female-dominated unions because it affects a group in a discriminatory kind of way."

Griffen-Cohen notes that the B.C. Medical Association—a male-dominated group—has fared much better in the past in their negotiations with the government. While the professor’s full-time job is at SFU, in 2001 she completed a research study on pay equity for the Hospital Employees’ Union.

Source: CBC News web site

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