Ramblings on the Picket Line #2 – Union

Yesterday, I wrote about the Government and today, as promised, I am going to ramble about my view on the BCTF.


Marshall McLuhan, oh so many years ago, wrote “the medium is the message” and in this digital age of instant information, this has even greater significance. Packaging of content has just as much importance as the content itself and at the same time, the rapidity of information and the speed at which we can blurt out our opinions ideas and thoughts mean that we are inundated with information, most of it, practically stream of consciousness. We are consuming information in a growing number of mediums and from a growing number of sources.


This means that we need to be mindful that the packaging matches the content in the delivery of every message. Every presentation of the teacher’s contract requests should be geared towards this understanding.


Fassbender, Clark and the BC Liberals understand this and have executed an excellent campaign in spreading their message. Fassbender always appears well groomed, clear, and precise. He is quick to get his message out and the message is on the offensive, and action focused. “We want a deal, We cannot afford to meet the teacher’s over the top demands, Wage demands are twice as high as every other public sector”, and on and on it goes.


The BCTF on the other hand, has appeared unsure, weak and on the defensive. Worse, their sound bites have been general and have not included some of the important positions. “Let’s make a deal, we are ready to negotiate, I am requesting a meeting with Christy Clark so we can get our students back to classes and our teachers back to work”. What needs to be front and centre, loud and clear, needs to be the mantra of something like, “Honour the Supreme Court Ruling! Reinstate the Class Size and Composition Language that was illegally stripped by the government!”  Keep the message clear and constant, and save the long press releases for blogs and websites.  The information war is won on visual and 110 character sound bites.


The BCTF has not evolved in its mediation and communication practices. We are no longer in a “Norma Rae” world, and the big demands the BCTF first began (start high and whittle away to the middle) set up the “greedy teachers” mantra. Government has done a much better job at communicating their disinformation to the public. Christy Clark’s weekend tweets on teacher’s demand for double the increase of all public sector workers without a single mention of the Class Size and Composition Supreme Court ruling is a good example of this, compared to Jim Iker, quietly demanding a face to face meeting with Christy Clark.


Compared to the Government’s controlled and consistent media presence, the BCTF has appeared naïve, and unsophisticated. It feels as if the BCTF has run a campaign expecting everyone to play by the old rules.


But things have changed exponentially even from two years ago.


The Liberal Government doesn’t have to “obey” the Supreme Court Ruling and they don’t have to play by the rules. They hold the purse strings on both ends – they have an unlimited pocket to fund their court cases courtesy of BC taxpayers, and they can continue to stall public education – and make money every day by doing so.


The BCTF has underestimated the scope and the strategy of the BC Government at every turn and continue to struggle to make the changes necessary in order to communicate a confident, strong offensive.


Our physical, media and language messages need to work at matching our demands. The messages need to be short, professional and focused and they need to come across as proactive, directive and clear.


As the strike continues to drag on, it will become increasingly more important that the BCTF works at polishing the message throughout all of the mediums and to focus the message on what matters most: honoring the Supreme Court Justice Ruling on Class Size and Composition.


Next Blog Post I will be writing about the student perspective.