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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 6, April 2005

HEU supports BCTF in defending free collective bargaining

This letter was sent to HEU local secretary treasurers, February 3, 2005 and copied to BCTF President Jinny Sims.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

The January 20, 2005 Action Agenda included a joint letter from the B.C. Federation of Labour President, Jim Sinclair, and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation President, Jinny Sims.

The letter and attached analysis described how a commission on teacher bargaining, headed by Don Wright, wrote an incredibly biased report that accepted 14 employer proposals but none of the union’s proposals. Wright’s recommendations are now in the hands of the provincial government.

The HEU Provincial Executive has reviewed the Wright report, and believe its implications should deeply concern every HEU member.

If the Liberals legislate the recommendations, teachers will be stripped of the right to strike. They would be forced into a predetermined schedule, with set dates for conciliation and mandatory final-offer selection arbitration to decide their collective agreements. The arbitrator would be bound to consider the "affordability" and the employer’s ability to pay.

In addition, their scope of bargaining would be severely limited. They would be prohibited from negotiating such matters as class size, staffing levels and ratios, and other issues that are important both to student learning and teachers’ working conditions.

We have no doubt that if the Liberals succeed in taking these rights away from teachers, the recommendations will be used as a template for all public-sector bargaining—including the HEU.

We have written to Sister Jinny Sims to offer our support and desire to actively participate in the BCTF campaign to defend teachers’ right to free collective bargaining and the right to strike.

Please let your membership know about the Wright report and ask them to be prepared to assist in the campaign.

As always, our individual struggles against the Campbell Liberal agenda are all linked. When one union wins—we all win.

In solidarity,
Fred Muzin, HEU president

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