Members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of binding arbitration — but what does it mean when the B.C. government has repeatedly stated that it’s never going to happen?
At a news conference held Wednesday night, BCTF President Jim Iker announced that 99.4 per cent of the union’s membership — that’s 30,490 out of 30,669 — voted yes to binding arbitration. That tosses the ball into the B.C. Liberals’ court, according to Mr. Iker.
“Unfortunately tonight, there is a single group of people standing in the way of our schools opening their doors tomorrow,” Mr. Iker said. “The BC Liberals’ refusal to accept binding arbitration is now the only reason children won’t be back in class.”
B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender, who has described binding arbitration as financially irresponsible, and handing over responsibility to a third party, said Wednesday night’s vote results were “widely expected and understandable.”
“We know B.C. teachers want schools re-opened,” he said in a statement. “That is a goal we all share. As we have consistently made clear, binding arbitration would lead to unacceptable tax increases in this case. That’s because the two side remain too far apart on wages and benefits.
“The best way to resolve this labour dispute remains at the negotiating table.”
And so the stalemate continues. How long can this go on? Will this end in the B.C. government legislating teachers back to work? Maybe.
For those interested, here‘s the BCTF’s framework for settlement through binding arbitration.