This week, the Coalition of BC Businesses was formally granted intervenor status in the BC government’s appeal of the Supreme Court ruling in the government’s bargaining disputes with the BC Teachers’ Federation. (A copy of the Coalition’s “factum” explaining its legal arguments is here, and the Court of Appeal’s written decision to grant intervenor status to the Coalition is here.)
Most of the Coalition’s members are associations whose members are groups in specific industries or with shared interests. The Coalition’s list of member organizations disappeared from its webpage a few days after its press release announcing the application for intervenor status. However, you can find a list of the Coalition’s members here. As I noted in my previous analysis of the Coalition’s press release, since the announcement one of the Coalition’s member organizations has expressed its disagreement with the application.
After the release of the decision to approve the Coalition as an intervenor, I was contacted through this blog by a BC teacher who has been researching the circumstances of the Coalition’s intervenor application. I have verified this person’s identity, and they have found important information that I think should be known. I am posting the information below with this person’s approval. Because this person did not inform the organizations they contacted that the information the organizations provided might be circulated publicly, I have removed the identifying details from the information. The only exception is the information involving the Coalition’s spokesperson, because of his formal and public role as the Coalition’s representative.
I have personally called close to 50 different organizations/groups listed as members of [three groups that are members of the Coalition of BC Businesses].
At the start of every phone call, I stated my name and identified myself as a BC public school teacher. I then gave information about the Coalition’s intervenor application, including the address of the Coalition’s website. Not a single organization I called had been made aware of their inclusion by membership association in the Coalition, the application for intervenor status, or the application siding with the government of BC in appealing the Supreme Court rulings. Most were very aghast at the prospect. Some e-mailed me back stating that they definitely were not members of the Coalition of BC Businesses, yet affirmed their membership with [an organization that is a Coalition member].
I also contacted George Higgins, who is listed on the Coalition’s web page as the Coalition’s contact person. He confirmed that all members of [one of the Coalition’s member organizations] had been included in the “50,000 employers and 500,000 employees” listed in the intervenor application. When I asked why many of [this organization]’s members were apparently unaware of the application, and did not support it, he likened it to “many teachers not agreeing with the BCTF strike,” and that notification and agreement was not necessary. He would not divulge how the Coalition made their decision to apply for intervenor status, nor whether each of the member organizations had a vote.
I frequently suggested to the groups that I spoke with that they get back to [their organization that belongs to the Coalition], and express their disapproval with this inclusion, or ask [their member organization] to withdraw their support of the Coalition and the intervenor application. There is nothing on [one member organization]’s website, news section, blog, news releases or newsletter to inform its members of the intervenor application. [One CEO of a group belonging to a Coalition member organization] had certainly not been informed about the intervenor application, and was completely against it, and stated that there were many organizations that belonged to [that group] which had large union memberships, and the application would be completely unpalatable.
UPDATE: Poco Building Supplies, which belongs to Coalition member organization the Building Industry Supply Association, has posted on Facebook that it does not support the intervention. Its post states, “None of the [BISA] members were asked for input or received notice of the BCCB’s plan to ask for Intervener Status.”
UPDATE: The Coalition has now posted a new statement on the application on its website. However, the statement does not address the process by which the Coalition decided to undertake the application, or whether or how its membership was consulted in that process.
UPDATE: “Please boycott intelligently“: a thoughtful reminder from a fellow blogger on the most effective way to express concerns to businesses who belong to Coalition member organizations.