History of collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is the method open to teachers to have influence on the conditions under which students learn and teachers work. When bargaining works, it is a process that allows key issues to be addressed in ways that are equitable and consistent. Because it produces an agreement between employees and employers, it incorporates compromises that provide for a stable relationship between teachers and boards of education.
Teachers fought hard to get the right to bargain collectively, a right that is guaranteed to all under the conventions of the International Labour Organization. Canada has agreed to these conventions and recognizing those rights is an obligation of all levels of government. Over the years that collective bargaining has existed for teachers in British Columbia, teachers have negotiated significant improvements for student learning conditions, as well as teacher conditions of work. BC teachers have consistently opposed government actions that would create worse classroom conditions and take away the rights of teachers to bargain.
In 2001, the BC Liberal government removed the right to strike by passing essential services legislation. In January 2002, the same provincial government stripped all class-size, staffing, and workload provisions from the provincial and local agreements. Most of the provisions guaranteeing support for students with special needs were also eliminated.
Our video, Standing up for public education, highlights the Federation's bargaining history, leading up to the October 2005 protest when BC teachers took a stand against the BC government's legislation imposing a contract.
The purpose of this web page is to ensure our history is recorded and easily understood. We hope it will achieve the following objectives.
- To give staff union reps and local leaders a historical background that will help them protect and defend bargaining rights.
- To pass on the stories and struggles that achieved the rights that we have.
- To improve members’ ownership of and responsibility for the collective agreement.
- To maintain a sense of pride in the BCTF and its achievements.
Articles on the BCTF's bargaining history
Read our brief history of teachers' pensions in British Columbia.