I think most people will agree that in 1906 when the BC Teachers’ Federation (Union) was founded, there was a need for collective bargaining with government. Some people have questioned whether the union is still useful today.
In 2002, the BC government passed the Education Services Collective Agreement Act that imposed a collective agreement on teachers. In 2011, the BC Supreme Court ruled that the Collective Agreement Act violated the right to collective bargaining granted by the Charter. So it doesn’t matter whether the public thinks the teachers should have a union, the Charter grants that right.
The negotiations following that ruling have broken down because, the media claims, the teachers are demanding 5% raises every year and the government is refusing to increase spending. The government has introduced the Education Improvement Act (Bill 22), which will appoint a government-chosen “mediator” to impose a collective agreement with no spending increases. I’m skeptical that the imposed agreement will stand up in court, but it could take another 9 years to sort that out.
One of the chief purposes of collective bargaining by unions is to distort wages above the equilibrium market price. BC has a massive surplus of bachelors of education (I’m not sure there’s a surplus of experienced teachers). At some point the union’s wage bubble has to collapse – I would expect a mediator appointed by the Labour Relations Board to take that into account, although they may not take it into account as much as the government would like.
The union should be trying to reduce the supply of teachers – this is usually done in professions by credential inflation. So I expect to soon see Master’s degrees required for new teachers (existing teachers will be grandfathered in). Since the Charter prevents the government from busting the union, they should be looking for a way to restructure the education system to reduce wages – something like the different tiers of nurses might work.