Thursday, October 13, 2005

breaking the law

Here is my take on the BC teachers strike situation:

I was wondering why the BCTF has $14 million at their disposal. Apparently it is for strike pay. But why do they have so much money? Perhaps it is to justify the union's existence. In order to do that, it needs to create cohesion. The best way to create cohesion is to create some sort of scapegoat; something that the union can rally behind.

In this case, the BCTF is uniting around the idea that a) the government is unjustly imposing a contract on them b) that "enough is enough" when it comes to education quality. The union, like any union, needs to, for the sake of its existence, go on strike occasionally so that people do not question the need for a union. Otherwise people may think the union is extraneous, something not necessary. They may question why a dollar an hour is going to a "union."

Thus, the union needs to "pick a fight" with someone in order to survive as a cohesive body.

And that is my Rene Girardesque theory on union scapegoating.

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Is an illegal strike by necessary? No. Teachers could have chosen
legal means to negotiate or to protest. They could have chosen to
work within the law, like so many other government unions. Instead,
they have willingly disregarded the law; the same system of laws which
gives teachers the right to free speech.

BCTF President Jinny Sims could not be more wrong when she implied
that teachers are as oppressed as people of colour in the southern
USA. Sims erroneously compared the civil disobedience of teachers to
the conscientious objection of Rosa Parks last Thursday on CKNW's
Billy Good Show. The teacher's illegal strike and Rosa Parks' actions
are not in the least analogous.

Rosa Parks' disregard for the law was grounded in the principle of
imago dei, that all people are created equally in the image of God.
The BCTF's disregard for the law is not grounded in any comparable
principle of justice. They have not, to this point, fulfilled Martin
Luther King's conditions for what constitutes justified civil
disobedience, that governmental policies are "degrading to human
personality." The BCTF is relying on a rhetorical hyperbole to
justify their contempt for the law.

The BCTF's actions must be seen for what they are: blatant contempt
for the law, not a courageous plight against "injustice." If
"teachers have the utmost respect for the law and judiciary," as Sims
claims, why do they so openly defy them? More importantly, the BCTF's
paradoxical actions of defiance of the law and statements of "utmost
respect" for the law virtually render the word "respect" into the
abyss of meaninglessness.

The teacher's demands may indeed by reasonable; but disregarding the
law so blatantly is not.