EDITORIAL: Bargain, but quietly

With school now underway, both sides in the B.C. public school teachers dispute should loudly pronounce their intentions to bargain in good faith and then duck under the cover of silence until there's something worthwhile to report — like a settlement.

Teachers’ contract bargaining should not be a spectator sport with blood-thirsty zealots cheering on their combatants like teens at an after-school fist fight. There are more adult ways to conduct negotiations than fear mongering, rabble rousing and putdowns.

With school now underway, both sides in the B.C. public school teachers dispute should loudly pronounce their intentions to bargain in good faith and then duck under the cover of silence until there’s something worthwhile to report — like a settlement.

The BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Public School Employers’ Association have an opportunity to create a teachable moment for thousands of B.C. students by engaging in respectful negotiations.

No doubt there are extreme challenges facing both sides in this dispute because the teachers are expected to live within the same “zero net” deal accepted by other public sector unions.

With an arbitrator ruling that issues traditionally discussed at the provincial table should remain there, and class size and composition regulations left out of the discussion for now (the province has until next April to contemplate the implications of a Supreme Court ruling that struck down class size and composition regulations), both sides in the dispute have a very narrow range of concerns to deal with.

As frustrating as it is for teachers to not be able to deal with their most pressing issues — parity with other provinces on wages and benefits, class size and composition — and with a provincial election still a long way off, the road is clear for some hard bargaining on the narrow range of contract items still open for discussion.

One option is for both sides to bear down on a few key non-monetary items to obtain a short-term deal or stall for a year or more until the way is clear for a possible return to bargaining of class size and composition, wages and benefits.

Regardless, it should be understood by all that teachers have the legal right to bargain (as upheld by the courts) and complaints of unreasonable concessions or unrealistic demands are typical opening bargaining positions.

With these volleys out of the way, it’s time for some serious bargaining.

But, please, let’s do it quietly.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic in Surrey, at Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre. (Photo: Fraser Health)
Surrey gets one of three post-COVID-19 recovery clinics

The Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre is located at 9750 140th Street

White Rock’s fire chief says a Jan. 21 kitchen fire in a third-floor apartment was a close call. (Garry Wolgemuth photo)
White Rock kitchen fire a ‘close call’

Fire chief says incident is reminder to not use stovetop as storage space

New Westminster-based musician Krystle Dos Santos in a promo photo.
Surrey’s ‘Digital Stage’ for Krystle Dos Santos’ Bloom/Burn songs starting Jan. 29

Black History Month-timed online concert focuses on musician’s album of R&B/soul songs

Surrey council has awarded a contract for the design of the Nicomekl Bridge replacement. (Google Streetview image)
Surrey approves $1M design contract for Nicomekl Bridge replacement

Construction anticipated to get underway in fall 2021

(Black Press Media files)
Snowfall expected for Lower Mainland on Saturday night, Sunday morning

2 to 5 cm of snow predicted Metro Vancouver, according to Environment Canada

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Abbotsford Police officers investigate the scene after a pedestrian was struck and killed on Friday morning. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Male pedestrian, 37, killed in Abbotsford after being struck by vehicle

Collision took place in 31800 block of South Fraser Way on Friday morning

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

Fire on Yale Road north of the overpass Friday morning. (Progress file)
Early morning blaze guts Chilliwack restaurant

The fire erupted north of the overpass closing one lane of Yale Road

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Most Read