Summer has gone and so has summer vacation and in the best of all worlds rugrats and surly teens would be back at their studies.
Except in British Columbia. This has been since back in the spring the land of the never-ending teacher strike. And as I drive by I see them out there. Their numbers have waned since the early onslaught months ago, but the stalwarts seem to be carrying on. I don’t smile and wave particularly because I choose to keep a certain impartiality.
I’m not about to get into the issues and am reminded of the words of Franklin Roosevelt at the time of steel strike in World War Two in which he stated, re the union and the owners: “A plague on both your houses.” This one is a bit like that.
The union (the BC Teacher’s Federation) has basically gone broke (and is being baled out by other unions) and the provincial government is carrying on carrying on and saving shitloads of money. And the kids keep losing and losing and every day they lose a bit more. It’s definitely no longer “all about the kids.” It’s about fucking politics, folks. A reactionary government helmed by a premier who regularly invokes the spirit of Margaret Thatcher is determined to break the balls of its most loathed public sector union. The teachers union, equally political, but on the other side is determined to carry on regardless.
I am not about to take sides in this. This doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings about it – strong ones – but I have friends on both sides of the issue and retaining friendships is more valuable to me than coming down on any side. And I’m conflicted at many levels.
Also, I am a former teacher and there were aspects of the calling I loved, and aspects that I hated. Primarily I detested the politicizing of what should have been an enlightened role in life. I will never fall into the claptrap that suggests teachers have an easy role, or be sucked in by bullshit that suggests, you know, vacations coming out the yin-yang, no understanding of the lives of ‘real’ working people, and so forth. I mean, depending on the teacher such criticisms can be apt, but mostly they’re not. Those who put their hearts and souls into what they do, and lots do, know it is an exhausting calling that is rarely appreciated. Yeah, I know all of that. I was one such, and so was my ex-wife.
But, I have a huge problem with this ongoing dispute in which those ostensibly cherished kids are being victimized. Strikes are ugly things and should always only be a last resort. They disrupt everybody. Personally, I have only once served on a picket line. That was back in university days when I was a mill-hand. Fortunately we were only out for a week – thank God, because I needed every cent my summer earnings could glean for me.
Far worse was when I was on the ‘management’ side in a newspaper dispute and was forced, by the nature of my role, to cross a picket line. A picket line populated by former colleagues, many of whom I counted as friends. They did not regard me in a friendly manner when I (and the other management folks went across), not appreciating the fact we were doing so because we ‘had’ to, and further not appreciating the fact that many of us in management (including me) were actually paid at a lower level than a lot of the line workers who were picketing. Fortunately, time heals some wounds and erstwhile friendships have been re-established and I value that a lot.
My point about that, however, is that such a labor dispute causes ill-feelings that can last for a long time. And there is no doubt that this teacher situation is producing wounds that will never be fully healed over. Everyone in the calling will remember the Summer of 2014.
Surely there must be another way.
There is too much evil spewed out by politics.
And yeah, if this is not resolved and a bit of good will is not shown by both sides, then indeed a plague on both your houses.