Clips from BC Labour Heritage Centre oral history interviews, 2018.
Ken Novakowski (Bargaining Staff, BC Teachers’ Federation) [00:00:00] My assignment when I was on the, in the bargaining division was Metro locals. So I think that was why I got, I got pegged with trying to find a Metro local that, a Metro school board, that would negotiate with the local. And so I spent a lot of time initially in Richmond, and I thought, “Oh my goodness, we’re gonna get a deal here.” The school board was very sympathetic and, and, and it looked like, and the teachers local of course was totally on side, and it looked like we were going to get a deal there. We came very close, but no, no, no. No surprise there. We ultimately didn’t. They, I think, someone in the administration seemed to back down but, so, we didn’t get a deal. So I kept looking in other situations where we thought we could. There was Coquitlam. There were a few other places that we thought we might be able to get a deal. But then eventually, a superintendent in North Vancouver, Ron Wickstrom was, Rod Wickstrom was known as a fairly liberal administrator, a fairly good person. And so I thought we’d try there, and the North Vancouver local was more than willing. And so we set up negotiations there, and then the negotiations actually ended up falling on the Sunday evening of November 6. This is a Sunday and we negotiated. We actually negotiated all night, until about three o’clock in the morning up to November 7th, and we got a deal. And David Yorke was there. I, we brought him in because we knew that we were close. So David Yorke was there helping us, helping us along. And the superintendent played a very big role in getting the board to, to agree to this provision and we negotiated. And so, I can remember going home that night and feeling pretty good that we, you know, that we might not have to go out, because we got this agreement and it only remained for the teachers and the school board to ratify it the next day, which was the 7th or later that day, which was the 7th. And, and then we wouldn’t have to go out on the 8th, because we’d have an exemption, effectively if the government would recognize it. So I went to sleep and got up late. Of course, because I didn’t get to bed until quite late, and went to the building and heard the news that the government, government had stepped in and told the school board they can’t agree to it. And so that was, that was it. It was, it was a clear signal from the government that they wanted teachers to go out and they didn’t believe teachers would go out.
Cliff Andstein (Chief Negotiator, BC Government Employees Union) [00:02:56] In discussions, CUPE, BCTF. It became clear we had the right to strike on November the 1st, BCGEU. A week later, BCTF had the right to strike. So our bargaining strategy was to try for a strike. We took a strike vote, but we’re still bargaining through the government. We tabled our package for them, and started a vote.