Delta unions back striking teachers
The parking lot of Dugald Morrison Park in Ladner was like a tailgate party Wednesday (March 7) as members of various unions came together for a barbecue while supporting B.C. teachers on day three of their full-scale strike.
The lunchtime rally was hosted by CUPE Local 1091, which represents Delta's school support staff, and CUPE Local 454, which represents workers of the Corporation of Delta, Delta Police Board civilians and the Delta Museum and Archives.
"Our Local is supporting the teachers because we're going to be in bargaining in June, our contract ends in June," said Local 1091 president Colin Pawson. "And if the government is unwilling to come to the table and negotiate, we're going to be experiencing the same problem that the teachers are experiencing right now."
Pawson extended the barbecue invitation to members of the B.C. Nurses' Union, Hospital Employees' Union, B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, and any other unionized workers in the area who felt like chowing down a free hamburger in support of teachers.
"Their (teachers') struggle is the same struggle that all working people are having and that's the government unwillingness to negotiate free and collective bargaining," Pawson said.
Teachers across B.C. walked off the job Monday to protest the provincial government's back-to-work legislation, which would impose a cooling-off period and appoint a mediator to seek a settlement within the government's "net zero" wage mandate.
Teachers were expected to return to classrooms Thursday, but could exercise their right to strike again next week with 48 hours notice. According to a ruling by the Labour Relations Board, after this week teachers can strike one day a week until the government passes Bill 22, the back to work legislation.
For Local 454 president Darryl Robison, Wednesday's barbecue was not only about supporting teachers, but supporting free collective bargaining rights for every member of every union.
"[Teachers] are not being able to bargain directly with their employer which, as a municipal worker, I have the opportunity to do," he said. "But they don't, and they're facing a very strict mandate from the provincial government. They haven't had a wage increase in quite a long time and they deserve a fair wage increase and they deserve our support in that."
The LRB ruling prohibits picket lines, allowing school maintenance personnel, clerical workers and support staff to report for work. But this week teachers did congregate outside Delta schools waving placards that read "Teachers taking a stand."
Delta Teachers' Association president Paul Steer said more than 50 Delta teachers joined thousands of others in a march on the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Tuesday to protest Bill 22.
Local high school students also showed their support for teachers last Friday (March 2) when a group of Delta Secondary students gathered at the corner of Arthur Dr. and 47A Ave. to protest the impasse between the provincial government and teachers.
The Delta School District did not receive reports of any children showing up for school on the first day of the walkout.
Superintendent Dianne Turner last week wrote a letter encouraging parents not to send their kids to school on strike days as there are not enough staff to provide adequate supervision or instruction.