Twenty teachers in Terrace, B.C., will be fired at the end of June if they refuse to join the local union. Terrace District Teachers Association (TDTA), and the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF).
A number of these teachers object to union membership because of the pro-abortion policies of the provincial federation, admitted TDTA president Greig Houlden.
Union membership was required in a collective agreement reached in the district in January 1989, but those teachers who opted out were given a “period of grace” to decide what to do, he told The Interim.
That period of grace is coming to an abrupt halt as teachers are expected to join by June 30 or “seek employment elsewhere,” Mr. Houlden said.
They also have the option to apply to the British Columbia Industrial Relations Council (IRC), for exemption from union membership on religious grounds.
To be granted such an exemption, one must prove his religious beliefs are “irreconcilable with the policies of the union,” says Daryl Anaka, a junior high teacher whose application on these grounds is currently before the IRC.
He expects to get a hearing within the month, even though BCTF is trying to dismiss his appeal.
In his application, Mr. Anaka points out that BCTF supports Planned Parenthood endorses the lobby group Concerned Citizens for Choice in Abortion, and is a paid member of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL).
The federation also lobbied at R.C. Members of Parliament to amend Bill C-43 to decriminalize abortion, and urged all local teachers’ associations to do likewise.
It’s evident to Mr. Anaka that “BCTF has the option of appealing the decision or seeking redress through the courts. He will not join the union.
I’m thinking, praying to know as a Christian what the Lord requires of me,” the father of three commented. “I entrust everything I am doing to His divine will.” In a similar case, Justin and Nancy Wasilifsky of Vancouver were granted an exemption from union membership in August 1989.
This was a precedent-setting decision, since previously the IRC had allowed exemption on religious grounds if one’s beliefs prohibited membership in all trade unions, according to an IRC staff member who refused to give her name.
The Wasilifsky decision created a storm of controversy and it prompted allegations of bias against the deciding panel of three. As a result, the decision underwent an internal reconsideration by a panel of seven IRC members in May.
Meanwhile, B.C. pro-life nurse Isobel Brophy had a grueling weeklong hearing in Vancouver, Mary 7 to 11. Mrs. Brophy of Terrace is facing disciplinary action because she attempted to talk to girls admitted to the hospital for abortions. She has been charged with unprofessional conduct (see The Interim April 1990). The Interim could not reach Mrs. Brophy at press time.