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Message from COTA President

Feb. 8, 2012

Hello, NOLC presidents, chairs and delegates. As a teacher, I personally thank all affiliates who came out to the rally at the overpass last Monday. The solidarity support was important to our members and was a highlight of the event. I'm sure many of the honks and waves were from our brothers and sisters in the labour movement.
I have received the following message from the president of the Central Okanagan Teachers' Association. Please share with your membership.
In solidarity,
Carole Gordon
NOLC, President
"What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all."


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Teachers in this province may be in the vanguard of a battle all Labour Unionists can expect in the future. We have had our ability to strike neutralized while our contracts are stripped through regressive legislation.
The LRB has ruled that we may only strike for three days initially and only one day per week after that. We may not picket our work sites, may not in any way impede access and must not gather in a manner that may be deemed intimidating. We may leaflet but, should we choose to display signs we must stand on the opposite side of the street. We may hoist them on a stick, but they cannot be displayed in a manner that would cause others to believe they are picket signs.
The conditions in Bill C-22: The Education Improvement Act will strip what little class size and composition protection exists in other legislation. It appoints a Mediator with strict Terms of Reference that will lead to the stripping of most language protecting our working conditions. We are held under the zero mandate, but any conditions that may have allowed flexibility for negotiating improvements were stripped a decade ago with legislation that has since been deemed illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of BC. Our attempts to get any of the learning conditions back as a result of that win have been rebuked by the government. In fact, Bill C-22 will reinforce the governments authority to deny full and free collective bargaining rights, and deny any restitution to teachers or learning conditions to their students.
This round of negotiations has never been about money, it has always been about learning conditions for our students and winning back our democratic rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Canada. We fear that we are the tip of an iceberg - one designed to sink all unionized Labour in this province.
Teachers will be in front of their schools Monday and Tuesday morning from 8:00 to 9:30 AM leafletting. On Monday we will then meet for a General Meeting at the Kelowna Community Theatre. On Wednesday, we will go to MLA offices from 9:00 - 9:30 and then from 10:00 - 11:30 to a Rally at the corner of Springfield and Dilworth - Farmers' Market location. We invite all Labour who may have some free time to join us. I am also asking that if their leadership is able, they come and speak to our General Meeting and if they choose, the Rally. Your messages of solidarity will buoy the spirits of teachers who have been so beaten down for so long by this government.
For the rights of all to work to live in dignity with the ability to negotiate fair personal and professional security, we thank you for your support.
Alice Rees
President
Central Okanagan Teachers' Assoc.


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