30,669 teachers, out of a total membership of about 40,000, cast ballots in the BC Teachers’ Federation vote approving the union’s call for binding arbitration to end their bargaining impasse with the province.
“Tonight, BC teachers voted overwhelmingly to back the call for binding arbitration that would see an end to the strike and open schools,” union President Jim Iker said in a statement released on Wednesday evening, September 10.
“In all, 30,669 teachers cast ballots. A total of 30,490 teachers – 99.4% – voted yes.”
He said custodians could be pulling chairs of desks and teachers could be setting up their classrooms tomorrow and classes could even start next week for BC’s eager-to-learn children.
“Unfortunately tonight, there is a single group of people standing in the way of schools opening their doors tomorrow,” Iker said. “The BC Liberal government’s refusal to accept binding arbitration is now the only reason children won’t be back in class.
“Every single one of those MLAs must ask themselves what is the real reason they are keeping schools closed. Their refusal is certainly not in the best interests of students or the province.”
He called binding arbitration is “a fair, workable, and pragmatic plan” to get children back into classrooms with their teachers.
“It is a standard labour relations practice that allows an independent third party to assess the proposals from both sides and implement a fair settlement,” Iker said. “We know the government has rejected the idea, but they are the only ones.
“If we are going to get a deal and get schools open, the government must show some good faith. Arbitrate, mediate, or negotiate. It’s time to put public education first.”