Community raises funds for teachers during protracted labour dispute

A teacher walks the picket line outside Vancouver Technical Secondary in Vancouver on May 26, 2014, the first day of rotating strikes by B.C. teachers. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

The average B.C. teacher has already lost $6,000 from being out on picket lines since mid-June, Justine Hunter reports.

With some teachers resorting to food banks and working second jobs to get by as the labour dispute drags on, various groups — including community members, businesses and unions — have started fundraising in efforts to help them out financially.

Families Funding Teachers, for example, provides an avenue for parents to donate to teachers the $40 a day being offered by government for “temporary education support.” From its website:

We’re giving our #40bucksaday back to the teachers!

You can help by pledging your financial support to teachers and their families too!

All monies are donated directly to the BC Teachers Federation PayPal account and will go to support the strike fund.

We want Christy Clark and her government to know that we stand in solidarity with BC’s teachers – and that we don’t want her bribe money.

And on Wednesdays, Bandidas Taqueria on Commercial Drive will be donating 100 per cent of profits to Families Funding Teachers.

“We believe that teaching is one of the most important (and underpaid) jobs of our society,” reads a note on the taco shop’s website. “We support our teachers and believe in the public school system of B.C. This funds drive will last until the teachers are back at work.”

As well: On Wednesday (Sept. 10) the union representing 1,800 BC Hydro workers will vote on whether to set aside a $100,000 loan for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

Local 378 of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union says a fund to support its own job action currently stands at $200,000 but a new contract has recently been negotiated for BC Hydro members so they won’t be needing the money any time soon.

Rich Overgaard, a spokesman for the BCTF, said such donations and loans are usually managed by the union’s executive committee.

“Typically, money goes into the strike fund (when Ontario teachers donated a couple million, members got another day of strike pay) or funds are sent to our locals’ hardship funds [for members facing financial difficulties],” Mr. Overgaard wrote in an email. “Members in need access those funds through each local.”

With a report from The Canadian Press

3:00 p.m. PT update: Vancity has also launched a Strike Relief Plan for teachers and parents affected by the strike. Three options offered are loan consolidation, loan/mortgage payment deferral and extending credit. The credit union says on its website the plan is “available to members and non-members who have not been able to work because of the labour dispute, and to others whose income has been disrupted or have had to take on additional costs due [to] a strike.” Individuals will be advised on a case-by-case basis.