Update: The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the teachers, supporting the right to collective bargaining. 

CUPE is sending solidarity wishes and observers to the Supreme Court of Canada today in support of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation challenge against BC Liberal Government legislation that interferes with their right to collectively bargain issues around class size, composition rules and student-teacher ratios.

“CUPE has consistently fought to defend the collective bargaining rights of our own members when provincial governments have violated our constitutional rights,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Unfortunately the BC Liberal government is a repeat offender, and we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers represented by BCTF at the Supreme Court.”

The important Supreme Court of Canada case being heard November 10 is a BCTF appeal of a 2015 BC Court of Appeal ruling that overturned a successful challenge of legislation preventing the union from bargaining class sizes, student-specialist teacher ratios and other conditions that affect the quality of education.

“CUPE school board workers, who often deal with square footage for cleaning ratios, class sizes for teaching and violence in the workplace, know how important it is to include those issues in bargaining,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury. “Bargaining is not just about salaries, it’s about quality public services.”

Background: The legal dispute dates back to 2002 when the BC government stripped collective agreements by legislation. In 2011, the BCTF won at BC Supreme Court when that legislation was declared unconstitutional. That decision was never appealed but the government introduced another piece of similar legislation in 2012, which was again challenged in court. In 2014, there was a new decision at the BC Supreme Court that ordered restoration of the stripped language. In 2015, the BC Court of Appeal overturned the 2014 decision, and that is the object of the Supreme Court of Canada appeal being heard November 10th.