Christy Clark takes credit for creating Pink Shirt Day, an initiative intended to combat the bullying that occurs in BC schoolyards. It was a useful illusion to help her fulfill her political ambitions. There's only one problem: Christy Clark is one of the most notorious bullies in British Columbia.
Christy Clark is the one who tore up collective agreements, repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of teachers and has brutally starved the provincial public education system at all levels. It makes one wonder what it is this daughter of a BC teacher has against education in general and public-school teachers specifically.
She has enlisted her populist water-carriers in the media to refer to the BC Teachers Federation as "militant", an unwarranted term used without a shred of substantiation. As The Gazetteer points out, it was Clark who tried to provoke a strike, violated the constitution, ignored the rule of law and tore up contracts. Yet none of those media pundits have taken to calling Clark what she is: an extremist and a bully.
Jim Nelson does a great job of laying out the history of the BCTF and the fact that they're anything but militant. Forced by then-premier Bill Vanderzalm into becoming a union, teachers, by their very nature go out of their way to avoid conflict and confrontation and they do it at their own peril. Further, they have caused less classroom disruption due to labour concerns than the Campbell/Clark regime has done with a fiscal hatchet.
Jim Nelson used an interesting analogy when he put Christy Clark's behaviour with teachers against the backdrop of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Interesting that he should use that particular group because the ILWU marine component has just experienced a single outrageous act on the part of the employer and they didn't hold back. A strike vote was swift and unanimous.
Seaspan, the largest tug, towing and vessel escort company in BC, unilaterally imposed a new contract on both officers and ratings, stripping them of established working conditions and placing a higher demand on call-out crews. The ILWU and the Canadian Merchant Service Guild (representing officers) were understandably outraged at the move. When Seaspan appeared intransigent the ILWU received unanimous approval from its members to go to a strike. The CMSG also announced a strike vote prompting the federal labour minister, Kellie Leitch, to get involved. The officers have agreed to an arbitrator and not to strike providing Seaspan does NOT implement the new contract. The ratings aren't being quite as nice about it. They expect negotiations to resume immediately, failure of which will lead to 72 hours strike notice and a virtual shut-down of shipping all over BC by Sunday.
Now, if I were betting on what's happening now, (and having had a couple of conversations with some tug captains), I'd bet that Seaspan expected a strike and then expected the anti-labour Harper government to legislate crews back to work with an imposed agreement ... favouring Seaspan's owners.
Tug crews are a tough lot. They have difficult, dangerous jobs requiring exceptional skill and a high level of knowledge. When they, without hesitation, threatened to get tough and get tough fast, they brought down their bully. There is no doubt the officers and ratings made it clear to Leitch that they wouldn't and did not need to back down. You see, the crews, particularly the officers, hold the hammer, something I'll describe if and when it appears they may close to swinging it.
The teachers haven't been getting the same kind of action. They've been bullied since 2002, yet they've only pulled themselves out to the picket line for 14 days since 1995. They've watched their working conditions deteriorate, at the hands of Christy Clark and have appeared powerless. The courts find in their favour and Christy Clark ignores it.
Time to get tough. Find the hammer handle and threaten to swing it. When Clark and Fassbender (who should be described by the media as an extreme fundamentalist) attempt to ignore the threat, follow through. Are there going to be hard feelings? Of course. You don't pull down a bully by being nice.
And the next time Christy Clark puts on a pink t-shirt everyone needs to mark her for the bully she is.