·  Media release

Steelworkers Provide $2M Assistance and Community Support to B.C. Teachers

BURNABY, B.C. - The United Steelworkers (USW) is providing $2 million in financial assistance to British Columbia teachers.

"Teachers have offered to negotiate, mediate - and even binding arbitration - yet the provincial government still refuses to come to the table," said Steelworkers Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt.

"It's clear the B.C. Liberals' only plan is to starve teachers off of picket lines. Together we will ensure that won't happen," said Hunt. "When employers face our union they know Steelworkers will always last one day longer. We're committed to ensure teachers and their union, the B.C. Teachers' Federation, can do the same."

"The United Steelworkers Executive Board has unanimously agreed to provide our full support to B.C. teachers," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

"The Liberal government could end this dispute overnight by joining the teachers in binding arbitration," Neumann said. "Steelworkers will stand shoulder to shoulder with the teachers until the government accepts its obligations."

Hunt also pledged continued solidarity with teachers from Steelworkers locals throughout the province. Whether in Prince George, Fernie, Trail, Kamloops or Courtney, USW local unions have been demonstrating support at picket lines and rallies, hosting barbecues and providing additional financial assistance and food hampers.

"As much as the B.C. Liberal government would like to drive a wedge between public-sector unions and private-sector unions like ours, it's not going to happen," he said. "We all know what the government refuses to acknowledge: teachers' working conditions are our children's learning conditions."

Hunt noted that despite decades of hard bargaining by Steelworkers, binding arbitration is a tool unions rarely agree to.

"The measure proposed by the B.C. Teachers' Federation is a clear sign of their commitment to our classrooms and the students they serve. It's time for the B.C. Liberals to do the same and agree to binding arbitration.

"Public education matters to all of us, the teachers' fight is our fight," declared Hunt.

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For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951;
Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director, 604-816-2554;
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-754-1174, bwest@usw.ca

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