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

Picket line stories

We have a school that is a 3.5 hour drive, mostly on a one-way dirt road, from Williams Lake. They have a generator for the entire community that runs 24 hours a day. Some community members keep their food in a communal freezer in the school. They also use the school’s laundry facilities rather than overwork their own generator. Our members on the picket line did not prevent the community members from accessing either food or clean clothes. – Sheila Wyse

Rose Valley (Kelowna) teachers walk the line for best education for our children. I am not a teacher but feel the present government is in error in denying the teachers the right to fair bargaining. This is an erosion of fundamental labour negotiations. The general public has to suffer the government’s arrogance once again. I walk the line this morning with honks and waves from everyone who drives by. Except one very large gentleman in a new shiny Corvette–it was hard to hear what he shouted as he was stuffing a jelly doughnut in his mouth, however one of the other picketers heard, "Hope you all get fined." – Alan Wood

Members signed up for duty beginning at 7:00 a.m., but many members who weren’t scheduled for 7:00 a.m. were out on the lines by 6:30 a.m. and are resolute to stay there all bloody day! – Francis Boucher

Okanagan Skaha
Okanagan Skaha had a successful meeting with parents last night. We had advertised an open-house type meeting at the Days Inn Convention Centre. We had an excellent turnout of teachers and we set up an informal discussion with parents as they came into the meeting. The parents were very supportive and several said they would see us on the picket line to help. It was a great way to talk to parents about education as opposed to just doing an interview about student progress. We think we’ll do this on a more regular basis. The teachers of Okanagan Skaha are strong and united. We’ve had nothing but positive comments coming from the community and wishes for a successful resolution to the dispute. – Terry Green

West Vancouver
Picket lines in West Vancouver are as rare as palm trees in Nunivut, but several were sighted today. Members grow stronger by the hour, encouraged by the good wishes of the community. A trend has been noted by the early morning shift. The people in the cars driving down hill (mostly Mercedes and Lexuses) are generally hostile. The people driving uphill (domestics, gardeners, and pool cleaners) are very supportive. – Kit Krieger
[A phone call from a parent to the BCTF office on Day 2 of the strike: "I’ve been going around Vancouver to the picket lines offering my support and I hear there is not much support in West Vancouver so I’m going over there tomorrow to drive around to the picket lines and offer teachers my support."]

Burns Lake
We are solid and in great spirits in Burns Lake. Great support from our CUPE colleagues on our picket lines as they do regular shifts with us. No bear sightings on the picket lines yet. The campers, 5th wheels, motorhomes, and burning barrels are beginning to appear as we settle in for the long haul. – Jim Iker

I have talked to many colleagues in Vancouver and can report that across the city:
• Teachers remain undaunted. Solidarity is even stronger than ever.
• We are behind Jinny 100%.
• We knew there was a possibility that we would end up in this spot when we voted.
• This ruling further galvanizes us—we’re not in it for the $50.
• Most of our young members didn’t expect strike pay anyway.
• We will not have our voices silenced!

As a VSTA EC member I am prepared for any circumstance. I have made arrangements for the care of my son (I’m a single parent) and my pets. I’ve also arranged for my sister to have power of attorney over my affairs.

Teachers need the leadership to stay the course and remain unwavering in their commitment to this job action. We will follow where Jinny leads. Please do not fold!

Fort St. John
I drove around with BCTF staffer Dick Gilbert this morning after he had spent Thursday in Peace River South. We managed to visit four schools before he had to drive out to Hudson’s Hope, Moberly Lake, and Chetwynd before getting back to Prince George to fly to Vancouver. We all thank Dick, and the rest of the BCTF staff, for their tireless efforts on our behalf.

The message tonight is: Stay the course and do not give up. I have never seen such resolve in our members.

Not only that, but in a community that has been historically hostile to unions and teachers, the response has be wonderfully positive. We hear lots of horn-honking and receive spontaneous gifts of food and coffee on the lines. People stop to wish us well and tell us that normally they are not union supporters, but on this the government is wrong; we are right and we must not give in. Wow!

The Stalinist tactics of this government have made our members even more angry. What I hear from the lines is simple: We will do this for nothing because it’s not about $50, and we’re not going back for a nothing deal.

On a lighter note... Our lines are becoming more creative as time passes. Trivial Pursuit is played at a couple of lines, the pedometer challenge is growing, and Survivor: "Picket Edition" is at another. I think they’re looking a challenge.
– Al Wilson

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