We (BC Teachers) are in the midst of negotiations – at the table with a government that is unwilling to negotiate.
We are at stage two of a three stage plan of action – which currently involves rotating strikes. We are also in a partial lock-out from the employer who is docking our salaries by 10% for the time we are locked out. Oddly enough this lock-out is during lunch time, and until 45 minutes before school begins, and also 45 minutes after school is out – so I don’t really understand how they can take away salary for time I am not actually required to work… but, ya… that is the way they seem to operate.
Soon we will be voting on stage three of the plan – a full-scale strike.
Of course it is scary to be on the brink of this, but it is not the first time I have experienced a strike or job action. And though I am not assured of the outcome, I am certain that the only route for me is to stand strong with my union, because teachers are the only ones at the table advocating for the needs of our students.
From an early age, my parents modeled the importance of being politically active and strong supporters of human rights, workers’ rights, and issues of social justice. Some of my earliest political memories are participating in protests against the Vietnam War – from the vantage point of my father’s shoulders.
Advocacy is in my blood!
My Dad is retired now, but he was a teacher, like me.
I remember him telling me in other hard-fought political battles: “Leah, just because you are in the right and your side has all the good songs, it doesn’t mean you will win!”
He also says, “Life’s a struggle… enjoy the struggle!!”
Right now I’d like to respond, “Dad, I think I might be getting a bit too much enjoyment out of life!!!”
He would laugh at that!
We (the teachers of British Columbia) have challenged the Provincial Government in court over the unconstitutional stripping of our rights to bargain class size and composition.
The BC Government appealed to ruling to the Supreme Court of British Columbia…
We. Won. Again.
It has apparently made no difference to the government that they were told their actions were unconstitutional…
So like my Dad says… good songs don’t guarantee a positive outcome – but I figure as we go once again into the fray to protect public education in our province… another song certainly wouldn’t hurt.
I wrote the song in this video a number of years ago, in 2002. I merely changed the Premier’s name and sadly – the rest of the lyrics were still relevant.
Most of the images in the video were taken by me, but two of them are photographs from the book: Working lives: Vancouver 1886-1986, (Elaine Bernard, 1985) that have a special importance to me.
The first is of my Grandfather, Don Guise, speaking to workers during the Vancouver Civic Employee’s Strike, May 12, 1966.
The second is a photo of my Grandmother, Rhea Dear, at an anti-nuclear protest, outside the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver in 1963.
And finally, below is the link to the sadly still relevant song (recorded in 2012 with the patient assistance of my talented musician husband, aka, The Amazing Craig!)
They’ll Never Take Our Power: The Musical Advocacy Project
I am proud that I come from a long line of people with strong values, who are willing to stand up for their beliefs.
And I am proud to be a teacher!
Related post: 1…2…3… Magic!! Christy Clark needs a time out!!
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2014)