(This column was published in the North Shore News on Feb. 6, 2002)


Public sector unions may be obsolete

By Leo Knight

"... to realize that once there were reasons, often good reasons, for why things were as they were; to realize that in time good reasons can become obsolete; to watch those same reasons take on a life of their own; to see what happens when they are enshrined as treasured myths ..." - Ken Dryden, The Game.


NHL Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden was talking about Canada's game and its reluctance to adapt and change in the face of the onslaught of the European and Russian newcomers when he penned those words, but he might have well been looking at this country today.


It has become impossible to even suggest things such as the health care system needs some fundamental change without the intransigent labour movement setting their collective hair on fire, beating their breasts while maniacally invoking the name of Tommy Douglas.


Look at all the noise made last year in Alberta, when Premier Ralph Klein brought in Bill 11, an innocuous little piece of legislation allowing private clinics, already treating things like orthopaedic sports injuries, to have overnight patient stays. You'd have thought they brought in a law outlawing motherhood. Well, the teachers' unions probably would have supported that. Bad example.


But you get my drift.


Speaking of the teachers, let's not make any mistake in understanding what this whole thing is about: money and power base. And what a bunch of noise coming out of the BCTF, saying it's all about education and who really cares about the students. Nonsense.


Parents across this province are deserting the public school system in ever-increasing numbers. They will do or pay any price possible to avoid the pitfalls of a public education at the hands of the socialist hordes that have taken over the BCTF.


This country was founded on the principles of freedom. Once, we went to school to learn the things meant to prepare us for further education and our adult lives. Now, our children are taught how they must think. Not why they must think and analyse things for themselves, but how they must think.


Opinions are fine as long as they agree with the principles set out in the annual general meeting of the BCTF's collection of social engineers and left-wing loonies.


Nothing else is tolerated, you see. Go ahead and try to raise a right to life discussion or the importance of the family in developing morals of kids or, indeed, the efficacy of the justice system. It doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree with the argued positions, the mere raising of the discussion will rain fire and brimstone upon one's head from the politically correct lefties who run the teachers' union. We have so allowed the indoctrination of our kids into the only politically acceptable way of thinking, old Joe Stalin would be proud.


Teachers work between 150 and 160 days a year, depending on their district. The rest of us, generally speaking, work between 220 and 250 days, depending on your job and length of service.


Equally, their workday is about six hours long, as opposed to the routine eight-hour days spent by the rest of the working world. Unless, of course, you happen to be in management in the private sector, in which case you probably work about 60-80 hours a week.


Isn't it funny how it's those who work the least that get referred to by Big Labour or the NDP as "the working people of British Columbia?" But I digress.


Teachers will bleat that they work all kinds of extra hours or days and it's not just their time in the classroom that constitutes their workday. Perhaps that may have been so at one time. Clearly, not marking papers, doing report cards and the biggie, not supporting or supervising extracurricular activities, reduces their jobs to part-time status at best.


And then they also have the temerity to refuse to allow parents to volunteer to help their own kids, lest somehow that might affect their own underutilized jobs.


For all that, they were given raises that pay them more than nurses, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics. Good Lord, they even make more than janitors in hospitals!


This column started off with some interesting observations by Ken Dryden. While I have been somewhat sarcastic and irreverent in my thoughts, it is interesting to look carefully at Dryden's words.


Have not the big public sector unions become obsolete? I mean, really? Have not most, if not all, of the good reasons for the formation of many of the public sector unions simply ceased to be with existing, strong legislation in this country?


At what point do we tell the BCTF and the HEU and the BCGEU that management has the absolute right to manage? Do we not have the right to say we, not they, have the absolute right to raise our kids in the manner we, not they, see fit? Was this not a fundamental right our forefathers fought and died for?


Sure, let's negotiate on the issues and benefits and above all, the money. But, management has the right to manage by definition.


Under the NDP that basic fact of life was blurred beyond recognition. The players have now changed at the behest of the people.


The pendulum has begun to swing back toward a place more comfortable for the majority of people.


The power base enjoyed by the public sector unions no longer has their hands on the levers of power.


And that is why they are screaming like scalded cats.






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