Letter: Unions need to stick together

Dear Editor,

It was with great sadness that I read Sharon Welsh’s comments regarding the LTA’s decision to picket during the summer months at a variety of schools, as well as a the school board office [Line crossed in teachers’ strike, July 10 Letters, Langley Advance].

The LTA and CUPE have a long history of mutual support and respectful communication. She is, of course, entitled to her opinion, but I think it may have been more appropriate to contact her union president and allow us both the opportunity to meet with her privately. I would have been able to share with her at such a meeting that I did take the time to confirm that all CUPE members who have been on the picket lines are receiving $375 per week.

In addition in those locals, 19 to date, where the new CUPE contract has been ratified, the members are receiving full pay for days on the picket line with BCTF members. That pay is in addition to the CUPE strike pay.

I realize this is clearly not only about money, and I do recognize that CUPE in Langley has yet to ratify its contract, so for Sharon this is a potential future benefit.

I hear from my own members daily, and our membership support committee keeps me informed regarding the members we need to make extra efforts to support.

Many teachers, young and old, also have mortgages and families; the job action has been financially difficult for all of us, but we are standing for a just cause: better supports for our students and a fair deal for teachers.

I see the CUPE union executive in our LTA building daily, freely volunteering their vacation time to do the work of the CUPE union, because they, too, believe in union solidarity, and that an injury to one is an injury to all.

Picketing allows us to remain visible, to let the public know teachers are locked out by their employer and still waiting for government to join us at either the bargaining or the mediation table.

I understand this is our job action, and recognize the tremendous support we have received from both CUPE locals in Langley, standing as a third party on our picket lines. Whether working together on the inside, or standing together on the outside, together we are better, together we are stronger.

I respect her right to an opinion, it is a hallmark of our democracy, and I hope she decides at some future time to meet and discuss this with both myself and her union president.

I want to thank her for her 25 years of support, and hope that, in the future, we will see her once again with us on the picket line.

Gail Chaddock-Costello, Langley

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