Is it time to bring in a third party mediator for BCTF bargaining?

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk

With the government turning up the heat in its dispute with the BCTF, many are wondering if it’s time to turn to a labour-relations legend to calm things down and hammer out a deal.

Vince Ready is, no doubt, one of the best in the business.

Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bachus says maybe it’s time to seek out Ready, or someone like him.

“I don’t follow his career daily, but I know he has a very strong and highly respected record, so I would hope some options like that would be considered.”

Even though a negotiated settlement between the provincial government and teachers seems far off,  Professor of Employer Relations Ken Thornicroft doesn’t believe a third party mediator would help the situation.

“One of the reasons you sometimes bring in a mediator is because the parties are having a difficult time communicating with each other and that doesn’t really seem to be the issue here.”

Thornicroft says the issue lies in wage increases. He doesn’t believe the Province will reach BCTF’s demands because of the position it has taken with the other unions.

BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker also says he doesn’t think now is the time to approach Ready.

“Well, we have a facilitator currently at the bargaining table. We have options in terms of the Labour Relations. That includes mediation, includes arbitration at some point in time and you know, those are options that we will consider probably when we’re actually closer together.”

Peter Cameron–the lead negotiator for the BC Public School Employers’ Association– says he’s open to having someone like Ready step in, but agrees it’s too early in the process.

“And get a mediator in to say what? Typically, the mediator moves in when there’s a kind of a zone by which the mediator can move and help parties get to a deal.”

The multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association representing 47-thousand health care workers announced a tentative five-year deal was reached recently with Ready’s help. That deal included a wage increase of 5.5 per cent.


  1. Why have the Liberals appointed an Education Minister and a single negotiator who both appear to have no clue what they can and can’t do at a bargaining table? Supreme Court and LRB decisions cost time, money, and stress. Unfortunately for the taxpayers of BC; this government has 3 years left on its mandate, control of an endless supply of taxpayer dollars, and a bad faith will to create chaos in the public school system.

    • Mike the sad part of this story is that none of the major parties really seem to care about the taxpayer. The Liberals (and there are a few that have some sympathy for those paying the bills) in general seem to care more about everyone else.
      From their track record, one can only assume the NDP would be a lot worse.
      LIke Rafe Mair says, don’t have to be a “10″ when your opposition is a “2″.
      Maybe if people got off the ‘rears’, got active and didn’t wait until the next election and simply vote for what is presented to us things might be different.

    • What have they done to “appear to have no clue..”, Have you followed the BCTF’s past negotiations? They have had at least 2 Commissions on why they cannot reach a Collective Agreement.
      2 Commissions, do you know how much money was wasted there? And the BCTF rejected both. One of which came from Vince Ready.
      I would suggest that Mr. Ready would probably not take the job, if offered, due to the treatment he got from the BCTF last time.

  2. It seems only a third party, if allowed, may be able to resolve the impasse-with a solution that neither party will be happy with. The fight has gone on too long and who cares if either or both parties don’t like the final result. Each party will live abother day to fight the next battle.

    But mediation, if not binding (if there is such a thing), will not work. there is little potential that a mediator will assist these parties reach an agreement. The two parties are not capable of reaching a compromise. To think a mediator will resolve the impasse is dreaming in technicolour.

    I agree there is an element of fairness which is crying out for a solution and a third-party verdict may provide the answer.

    But that third party process must involve binding arbitration- when all movement to compromise from both parties stop. Then, each party should be forced to table a Final Offer which is decided by an arbitrator.

    This is essentially a zero-sum game. The arbitrator picks one winner-the other loses.

    Dwight: I respectfully challenge your comment that Vince Read probably would not accept an offer to intervene because of the way he was treated by the BCTF. Why?

    Vince Ready has been known to perform his job thoroughly and fairly. He does not expect to win a popularity contest. He, of all persons. understands that the losing party will disagree with an arbitrator’s decision just as the government disagreed with the BC court decision that it acted unconstitutionally and bargained in bad faith.

    I can relate to binding arbitration which I lost. I lodged a complaint without a lawyer against the arbitrator which was decided by an Arbitration Specialist. I lost the battle(decision irreversible because it is final) but I Won the war. The Arbitrator resigned (had to)from the program.

    Yes, we have wasted time and money on 2 commissions, including the Wright Commission because the government would not implement his recommendations-especially that of binding arbitration.

    Would an arbitrator care if the BCTF hated him? Absolutely not if he was worth his salt and did his job.

  3. I stand by what I said. A mediator knows when to ‘ book out ‘ of a dispute. No need to explain Vince Ready to me, I have worked with him in the past, and know he is an upstanding individual.
    And there are Arbitrators who will not work with the BCTF, I know of one who not only would not work with them, he believed there was some underhandedness by the Union.

    • I wouldn’t and won’t dispute your thoughts on Vince Ready as I demonstrated in my earlier post. But to carry your informative and revealing thoughts further……

      Arbitrators who do not want to or will not get involved in a BCTF case for their personal reasons, it is time for them to step up and be counted.

      They should have the strength of their convictions and remove themselves completely off the arbitrators’ roster of the Labour Relarions Board if they are unable to park their biases at the door. What other biases may they hold?

      If there are arbitrators with such biases against the BCTF, even if 100 percent justified, their appointments would certainly appeal to the provincial government-a guaranteed win-No?.

      No wonder the BCTF and the government are at odds all the time. The deck has been stacked. That should make mediation and compulsory arbitration a cake walk for the government because they obviously have no sympathy for the BCTF.

      Or is it possible that you are giving the mediation and arbitration processes a black eye-based on your intimate knowledge and facts? Then the Arbitrators Associaton of BC may be interested in hearing from you.

  4. Why would the tax payers of BC foot the bill for Vince Ready?
    Not that he is not an upstanding person. I too, like Dwight have worked with him. And I thought that he was stull upstanding even if it didn’t go our way.

    BUT how could anybody in their right mind, of left mind for that matter, trust snookums and her ilk? It’s not like in the past the LIE BERAL clowns have not just torn up legal contracts that they didn’t like. I am sure I would trust a rattle snake more than snookums and fastspender!!!!!!

    • NO, who we need to be rid of is the BCTF. Because of the BCTF, the Teachers have lost their Professional designation, the respect people had for them, and are not even a respected by other Unions.

      • Absolutely Dwight. I don’t remember a time like the last few years when teachers have recieved so much negative press and nasty commentary brought on soley by the BCTF and causing the employer to respond in kind. I hope teachers will find a way to undo the union’s messages of greed and self-entitlement that have only hurt the respect due them.