As you all know, B.C. teachers yesterday voted to ratify the tentative agreement reached earlier in the week between the BCTF and the provincial government, ending the strike that had kept schools closed for the first three weeks of the school year.
Secretary-Treasurer Paul Faoro and I want to extend our appreciation and thanks to all 27,000 CUPE members who work in our schools and help make our education system function as well as it does despite chronic underfunding from Victoria. Both Paul and I have walked on picket lines with many of you in your communities as you supported our sisters and brothers in the BCTF, and it was inspiring to see solidarity in action. I know that the leadership of the BCTF is also very appreciative of CUPE members’ support during this very difficult struggle.
Understandably, the media focus during the dispute was on the teachers, even though the strike also kept you from going to work. But when the attention of the media shifted to how the strike affected CUPE workers, I was really proud of the solidarity and support our members displayed. CUPE members exemplify all that’s best about the labour movement.
Collectively, our union did everything we could to support the teachers and put the pressure on the BC Liberals to negotiate a fair and reasonable deal. I’m sure you’ll all join Paul and me in congratulating the teachers on concluding a negotiated settlement.
Working with the BC Federation of Labour and the other affiliates, we took a strong position in support of teachers and collective bargaining, and we will continue to speak out and push the provincial government to properly fund our education system so our kids get the very best education.
As kids finally return to school on Monday, on behalf of all 85,000 members of CUPE in British Columbia, Paul and I want to thank you for your solidarity and your patience over the summer.
I’m sure you’re looking forward to getting back to doing what you do so well—making our schools the best possible environment for learning, and on behalf of not just all our members, but on behalf of parents and kids all across the province, thank you.
Mark Hancock is President of CUPE BC, representing 85,000 workers in communities across BC.COPE 491