By now you have all seen the news regarding the talks in Vancouver between the BCTF and BCPSEA. Not surprisingly it looks as if there will be picket lines in front of all of our sites starting Sept 2nd. There is also a BCTF rally on the legislature lawn on that same day.
Many of you have contacted me with questions regarding strike pay and picketing duties. I will attempt to answer the common questions here.
Q. Now that we are ratified do we collect strike pay?
A. Yes and NO. BCPSEA has not yet ratified our collective agreement and we qualify for strike pay until that last piece is done and we are on payroll. Once we are on payroll CUPE will not pay strike pay to members collecting the ESG (Employee Support Grant) monies. This would be double dipping, and unfair to the rest of the 650.000 CUPE members that would foot the bill. On call members will qualify for strike pay regardless of the ratification status as it will be difficult to attain ESG money for them.
Q. Now that we are ratified are we still doing support picketing?
A. Yes, Not all members will receive the ESG money. In order to allow them the opportunity to collect strike pay (their only income) we will set up support pickets.
Q. Can we attend the planned BCTF rally as an alternative to picketing duties.
A. Yes, We are planning how to do just that but don’t have the details worked out just yet.
Regardless of strike pay, support picketing is simply the right thing to do. The teachers are our partners in the public education sector and we support them in the fight for a negotiated settlement. The divide and conquer tactics being used by government on Unions is unprecedented in this BCTF struggle. We would play into it by walking away from the teachers now. Government didn’t agree to the ESG in the first place because they love CUPE. It is simply to divide us off from the teachers then come back for us another day once they are done with the BCTF.
Make no mistake that the only Union on their radar is the BCTF. One only has to read the Deloitte report to see that there is a plan to dismantle some support staff jobs in the public education sector. We will need BCTF support in our future struggles so lets build relationships with them in their time of need.
As I type this out I am reminded of that famous poem by Martin Niemoller who was held prisoner by the nazis for 8 years.
First they came for the communist and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the jews and I did not speak out because I was not a jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.
Clearly things are not as dire here as in nazi Germany but the message still holds true. People, colleagues, coworkers, friends and Unionists need to stand up for each other.
Barring a deal over the next 34 hours the STA do intend to have picket lines at all of our work sites with the exception of both SIDES campuses. For safety reasons (as a result of the construction) all staff at SIDES will be redeployed to Royal Oak and SIDES will be closed.