The legislature gave final approval Thursday to the controversial Bill 22 and it will become law Saturday. That’s the same day teacher activists from around the province will gather in Vancouver for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) annual general meeting at the Hyatt Regency.
The main business at this year’s meeting will be crafting a response to Bill 22 that will demonstrate teacher anger while not splitting the union or alienating the public. It will be a difficult balance. BCTF executive members spent long hours this week drafting recommendations for action, and those will be presented to the 700 delegates Sunday for an in-camera debate. The decisions during the AGM are expected to be taken to the broader membership for ratification.
We know delegates will discuss the possibility of BCTF members withdrawing from extracurricular activities, such as coaching sports teams, directing drama productions and sponsoring student clubs. Some locals are already moving in that direction. I’m told some teachers are pushing for a wildcat walkout, but I doubt that will fly, given the bill’s stiff penalties for illegal job action. There could also be proposals for political action to defeat the Liberals during the 2013 election, although the BCTF, as a union, does not usually get involved in that way. At least, not officially.
There will also be a leadership vote Tuesday, with Rick Guenther challenging Susan Lambert for the presidency. There is a third contender – Chris Drouillard, a teacher from 100 Mile House – but he’s not well known and won’t win (although he might draw support from Guenther). Read my story here.
I asked Guenther on Thursday what change he wants to see in the BCTF leadership.
By Janet Steffenhagen, THE VANCOUVER SUN
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