The British Columbian Teacher Walkout and the Power of Government Sector Unions
This year, my younger brothers haven’t had a report card.
This year, they had an extra 3 days for Spring Break because the teachers walked out the week before.
This year, the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation is threatening a full-scale walkout that could derail the graduation plans of this year’s 12th Grade students, but that is just the beginning. On March 31st, over 100,000 Government and Service Union workers will be without a contract. The BC Teacher’s Federation is setting the stage for a massive hike in government wages prior to the provincial election. The socialist New Democratic Party is attempting to take back control of the provincial government for the first time since 2001, and their close tie to the unions is a known fact.
The crux of the issue still remains. Essential services are being discontinued; although the current government is actually promoting a good idea called The Net Zero Plan, which mandates that all new government contracts have a net zero effect on spending, the unions are successfully turning the issue into an emotionally charged display.
Government Sector Unions nearly always get away with demagoguery because they represent the services we consider most important, and we want a direct say in how they are managed through our elected officials. Unions know the services they offer have been monopolized by the government, and the people will not like the interruption of their government services. Especially teachers, who can justify all increases in education spending by assuring “it’s all for the kids.”
Most often, the people will blame the party in power for the interruption of service, and that’s not what the ruling party wants. So they give in to the union demands, for fear of public reprisal. The government, in good times, has no reason to stir up public acrimony. They’d rather everything continue smoothly. And if they have to give generous contracts for that to work, so be it.
And then the harder times come. The bloated union contracts, which are as hard to cut back as entitlement programs, continue as if the good times never ended. When you stop spending because you can’t afford it, government unions have the weight and power to punish you for that decision. They have the campaign war chest built to punish you with ads and sustain themselves for a long strike. Teachers have the sympathy of the public until proven unworthy of support.
Thankfully, in this case, they are souring public opinion.
The teachers are asking for a 15% raise over 3 years in the midst of a deep recession.Which isn’t exactly the best PR move. When we make spending the issue, we are consistent. The politicians who represent us, the ones we vote for, have a clear mandate. If they do not act on their mandate, if they take the easy road with the unions, and give in to their demands; it is our responsibility to send them back to private life, and elect people who aren’t willing to spend my grandchildren’s tax dollars appeasing unions that should have dissembled a long time ago.
Here in BC, we still have a chance. We can be a Wisconsin.
But we don’t have a Scott Walker to lead. So instead, we need the people to stand up, and demand that the Net Zero plan is followed.
But it’s still possible.