Category Archives: Strikes & Labor

Tentative contract for #BCed teachers #bctf #bcpoli

CBC, September 16, 2014– A tentative deal has been reached in the months-long B.C. public school teachers’ strike, but the final details still have to be worked out, mediator Vince Ready confirmed this morning.

 The breakthrough in negotiations between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association comes on the fourth day of marathon talks at a Richmond, B.C., hotel.

  • No details about the deal will be released before it is finalized, said Ready, who emerged from the hotel to confirm the tentative deal shortly after 4 a.m. PT.

The BCTF first tweeted that a tentative deal had been reached around 3:50 a.m. A few minutes later, Ready told reporters both sides would be meeting again later Tuesday to finalize the details.

Read More: CBC

#BCed teachers vote 99.4% to binding arbitration #ubc #bcpoli

FINALvote-result

“It’s time Government makes at least one move,” BCTF President Jim Iker pleaded as he announced that an overwhelming 99.4% of teachers voted “Yes to binding arbitration” today to end the strike.

The BC Government remains entrenched, with the Minister of Finance Mike de Jong flippantly commenting on the CBC this morning that “the only people bound in binding arbitration are the tax payers.” Ah, the dreaded bogey of the tax hike…

Like de Jong, the BC Minister of Education Peter Fassbender has been faced squarely looking into the past. Or most would say stuck in the past. Again, nearly every blog has to end this way: As NDP Leader John Horgan put it at the BC Fed-BCTF Rally on Friday: “Mr. Fassbender I say you failed at negotiation, you don’t understand mediation, you couldn’t spell arbitration, so how about resignation?”

BC public sector unions in solidarity with #BCTF #bced #bcpoli

BC Federation of Labour, September 9, 2014

BC public sector unions are sending a message to the Premier that they stand in solidarity with BC teachers and are urging her to accept the proposal for binding arbitration.

“The Premier is attempting to use other settlements in the public sector to create a divide among workers in the province,” said Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

“This tactic is not only an insult to working people in BC, but it also shows how little the Premier understands and respects the collective bargaining process.”

A letter, signed by the presidents of BC’s largest public sector unions, states their full support for BC teachers and reminds the Premier that every bargaining table is unique and every process to settlement different.

The letter states: “We urge you to immediately stop attributing your refusal to bargain critical issues with teachers because you want to be ‘fair to other public sector workers.’ If you want to be fair to all public sector workers, send the outstanding issues to binding arbitration as proposed by the BCTF and remove E80 from the bargaining table.”

“Our unions stand in solidarity with BC teachers in their efforts to win a fair collective agreement and improve educational resources for BC’s children.”

Read full letter

#BCTF putting to vote ‘Yes to binding arbitration’ #bced #bcpoli

BCTFIker Sept8-2014

BCTF President Jim Iker announced this morning that the union’s membership will vote on binding arbitration on Wednesday. This ‘Yes to binding arbitration’ vote is immensely important, as this will formally put the power of the union’s members behind President Iker’s request to the BC Government on Friday to move the stalled contract negotiations to binding arbitration. This also reaffirms the union’s pressures on the BC Government to bargain in good faith.

It’s whal all teachers, students, and parents want,” the BCTF affirms.

The “only hold out so far” is the BC Government, marked by Minister of Education Peter Fassbender’s blinkered neglect of the public and the strength and resolve of the BCTF, and his stubborn inability to move from timeworn, original positions. As NDP Leader John Horgan put it at the BC Fed-BCTF Rally on Friday: “Mr. Fassbender I say you failed at negotiation, you don’t understand mediation, you couldn’t spell arbitration, so how about resignation?”

BC Premier #ChristyClark put the hard hat on and fire @FassbenderMLA #bced #bcpoli #bctf #teachers

Christy Clark

It is due time Premier Clark, to put the hard on again, and make two tough decisions: Fire Minister Fassbender and agree to binding arbitration to settle the contract with the BC Teachers’ Federation. Two tough decisions. Put the hard hat on.

The Minister of Education has to go as his failures in the aggregate are destructive and disruptive. He has to go. As the opposition NDP Leader John Horgan put it at the BC Fed-BCTF Rally yesterday: “Mr. Fassbender I say you failed at negotiation, you don’t understand mediation, you couldn’t spell arbitration, so how about resignation?”

Premier Clark, how about firing Minister of Education Fassbender? And agree to binding arbitration. Put the hard hat on and make two tough decisions.

#BCTF requests binding arbitration to end #bced strike #bcpoli

Taking the high ground in a prolonged labour dispute, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has requested binding arbitration. BC Premiere Christy Clark and Minister of Education Peter Fassbender have been counter-productive in agitating the teachers to suspend the strike. Feeling the pressures of sustained job action– the likes of which BC has not seen in a long time– the Premier and Minister have consistently underestimated the BCTF and made a series of awkward mistakes.

Clark-Fassbender

Now, here again is the BCTF taking the high ground and waiting for the Liberals’ response.

BCTF, September 5, 2014– Today, in an effort to find a fair settlement for all parties involved, open schools, and get children and teachers back into classrooms, the BCTF has called for binding arbitration. If the BC Public School Employers’ Association agrees to binding arbitration, the BCTF would quickly put the vote to teachers to end the strike. 

BCTF President Jim Iker made the announcement as teachers across the province gathered together for study sessions. 

His speaking notes (check against delivery at http://new.livestream.com/BCTF/Sept0514) are below. 

Good morning,

First, I want to speak directly to the 40,000 teachers watching around the province in today’s study sessions.

Thank you. 

Your determination, solidarity, and support move me every day. You have given up so much for your students and the future of BC’s education system. All British Columbians owe you their gratitude. 

Earlier this week, I outlined a simple, pragmatic, and practical way forward to ensure all parties involved reach a fair settlement so we can get schools open. 

I also said we would consider all options and close no doors. 

So today, I would like to open another one. 

Throughout this dispute, BC teachers have led the way in trying to reach a fair deal that gives our students more support. We have made moves, proposed creative ideas, and taken job action only when absolutely necessary. 

In return, the government has put up road blocks. 

Their focus has been on delay tactics, a $40-a-day payout scheme, and attack ads on Twitter. 

I hope that all comes to an end today. 

This week, the BCTF Executive Committee met with our provincial Bargaining Team and we are proposing another way forward to get students and teachers back in the classroom.

Today, we are not closing any doors, just opening a new one. Mediation with Vince Ready in our view is still a viable option. However, BCPSEA and government made it clear last weekend that they were not ready or willing to get the job done. 

They did not respond in any meaningful way to any of the significant moves teachers made. 

Today, we are putting forward another option for all of us—government and teachers to resolve this dispute and reach a fair settlement. 

Today, the BCTF is calling on BCPSEA and the BC Liberal government to agree to binding arbitration.

Read more: BCTF

Does size matter when it comes to public school classes?

Does size matter when it comes to public school classes?

This question was debated on CBC Radio’s The Current this morning. Burnaby, BC grade 4/5 teacher Jennifer Heighton, Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, and I weighed in on the question.

Important context is the ongoing BC teachers strike, where class size and composition are key elements of contract negotiations. The ruling BC Liberals stripped class size and composition rules from the BC teachers contract in 2002, a move that has twice been judged as illegal by BC courts.

I’ve written a brief summary of class size research, with key references, which you can find here.

You can read a very recent review of the research on class size here.

Last month, Global TV BC broadcast a “town hall” discussion on a wide variety of education issues related to education in BC and the ongoing dispute between teachers and government, including class size. You can watch that segment here.

Here’s a good background piece from The Tyee: Everything You Need to Know about BC Teacher Bargaining

Listen to The Current segment (21 minutes) on class size here.

BC Labour leaders statement in solidarity w #BCed teachers #BCTF #bcpoli #yteubc #criticaled

B.C. Federation of Labour Statement of Solidarity with Teachers

17 June 2014

As leaders of British Columbia’s Labour Movement we speak with one voice today in solidarity with the 40,000 teachers in the province who are standing up for the rights of children to a quality public education by demanding a fair collective agreement.

It is becoming more and more apparent that, despite statements to the contrary by Premier Christy Clark, there is little desire by the B.C. Liberal government to bargain in good faith and end this dispute for the good of all.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has shown a willingness to find a path forward, putting forth significant changes that would have brought teachers and the employer closer to an agreement. But the government refused to even discuss them, and chose to move backwards instead of forwards.

Teachers want to stay in the classroom but they know how important it is to hold strong against the government’s assault on our public education system. Their fight is bigger than one union – they are fighting for the rights of all workers to be treated with dignity and for all children to have a solid start in life.

Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals need to get the clear message from British Columbians that it is time for the government to respect the work of our teachers and the two court decisions, and negotiate a settlement in good faith. There is no need to let this dispute continue through the summer and into the fall. The time to settle is now.

We know that workers and parents across the province support teachers – they understand and respect the important role they play in our communities.

It is now time for all of us to take action. Demonstrations of solidarity with teachers are more important now than ever.

As labour leaders and parents we are calling on our members, and all British Columbians, to bolster the picket lines to ensure teachers know they are not standing alone, and the government knows we are a united movement.

Such acts of solidarity over the last two weeks have made a difference. Other unions, including 25,000 CUPE members, have been active on the picket lines – and as the teachers move into a full strike, we all need to play our part.

Write the Premier, the Education Minister and your local MLA. Tell Christy Clark to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on fighting the courts, and start investing in public education so that our kids have the best chance for success.

And join the rallies being hosted by the B.C. Federation of Labour and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. A strong showing sends a strong message – both to the teachers of the province who need your support, and to the government who needs to hear your frustration.

As working people, public education has never been more important for our young people. Their success in finding meaningful work and in being active members of their communities is tied directly to a fully-funded public education system where all educational staff are respected.

We are all responsible for protecting that system now.

In solidarity,

Val Avery, HSA
David Black, COPE 378
Lynn Bueckert, BCGEU
Brian Cochrane, IUOE
Laird Cronk, IBEW
Robert Demand, UNITE HERE!
Victor Elkins, HEU
Mark Gordienko, ILWU
Mark Hancock, CUPE BC
Amber Hockin, CLC
Steve Hunt, USW
Jim Iker, BCTF
Bob Jackson, PSAC
Dusty Kelly, IATSE
Irene Lanzinger, BCFED
Ivan Limpright, UFCW
Lee Loftus, BC Building Trades
Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor
Cindy Oliver, FPSE
Bonnie Pearson, HEU
Karen Ranalletta, CUPE BC
Jim Sinclair, BCFED
Stephanie R. Smith, BCGEU
Joie Warnock, Unifor

Petition to support #BCED teachers #CapilanoU #EmilyCarrU #RoyalRoads #SFU #TWU #UBC #UFV #UNBC #VIU #UVic

BCTFRallyJune2014Students, teachers and supporters at BCTF VESTA rally, June 10, 2014

 SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT BC TEACHERS / BCTF

BC Premier Christy Clark and Minister Peter Fassbender,

We the undersigned, faculty members, librarians, administrators, students, and staff in post-secondary institutions across British Columbia, encourage you to increase your support of public education by recognizing the value of our teachers. We encourage you to demonstrate this recognition by bargaining with the BCTF with an open mind to meeting the teachers’ very fair proposals. This includes de-escalation by backing down on the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s (BCPSEA) retaliatory lockout, which further erodes the teachers’ right to bargain and threatens fair labour practices across the BC public sector. BCTF President Iker argues “It’s time for Premier Christy Clark to provide the employer with new funding that will help bring the two sides closer together on class size, composition, staffing levels for specialist teachers, and wages.”  We agree.

Please invest in education and labour by resolving this dispute at the bargaining table rather than through retaliatory lockouts. The teachers, who are the BCTF, and all public sector employees through their unions, deserve a fair process of reaching a collective agreement. Thank you.

Sign the petition in support of BC teachers / BCTF

Rally to support #BCed teachers #ubc #sfu #ucapilano #yteubc #bcpoli

BCTFRallyJune2014

Rally today (10 June) to support BC teachers @ 4-6pm
BCPSEA 1333 West Broadway (between Hemlock and Birch)

 SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT BC TEACHERS / BCTF

Petition to support #BCed teachers / #BCTF #bcpoli #ubc #sfu #yteubc

BCTFQueenMaryElementary2014BC teachers picketing at Queen Mary Elementary School, Vancouver

 Sign the Petition to support BC teachers / BCTF

BC Premier Christy Clark and Minister Peter Fassbender,

We the undersigned, faculty members, librarians, administrators, students, and staff in post-secondary institutions across British Columbia, encourage you to increase your support of public education by recognizing the value of our teachers. We encourage you to demonstrate this recognition by bargaining with the BCTF with an open mind to meeting the teachers’ very fair proposals. This includes de-escalation by backing down on the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s (BCPSEA) retaliatory lockout, which further erodes the teachers’ right to bargain and threatens fair labour practices across the BC public sector. BCTF President Iker argues “It’s time for Premier Christy Clark to provide the employer with new funding that will help bring the two sides closer together on class size, composition, staffing levels for specialist teachers, and wages.”  We agree.

Please invest in education and labour by resolving this dispute at the bargaining table rather than through retaliatory lockouts. The teachers, who are the BCTF, and all public sector employees through their unions, deserve a fair process of reaching a collective agreement. Thank you.

Sign the petition in support of BC teachers / BCTF

#BCED and the politics of education funding #bcpoli #yteubc

BCTFMay2014

Tara Ehrcke, May 28, 2014, RankandFile.ca– Two days into rotating strikes and a “partial” lockout by the BC government, independent polling shows strong support for the teachers. An Angus Reid poll showed that among the general public, 41 percent supported the teachers while 30 percent support the government. Among parents with children in school, the support is stronger, with 51 percent supporting the teachers and only 28 percent support for the government.

The issue has also drawn the attention of BC’s opposition parties – both the NDP and the Greens (who have one sitting MLA). But while neither party supports the current actions of the government, they are also unwilling to take a clear stance supporting the demands of the teachers – in particular, the restoration of class size and class composition limits and a fair salary increase.

The NDP does not have a great track record on this issue. I’ve been following their position in every election since the limits were illegally stripped back in 2002. Not once since 2002 has the NDP come out in support of restoring the limits and reinstating teachers’ collective agreement language. I have personally asked this question in 2005, 2008 and 2013, and never has an NDP candidate I have spoken to committed to restoring the language or the funding.

In the last election, in 2013, the NDP platform included $100 million for education. This is dismally short of the $300 million needed to restore class sizes and additional funding to address increased costs to school boards. But sadly, it is even less than the $178 million they were proposing in 2005.

While the NDP is happy to attack the Liberals for their bargaining tactics, they haven’t made a concrete commitment to do anything different with respect to funding and restoring our contract. In yesterday’s question period, new NDP leader John Horgan chastised Education Minister Peter Fassbender saying, ”a 12-year record of destabilizing public education. A child who started in grade 1 in 2002 has had 12 years of confusion as the result of this government’s policies.”

But never once in that twelve years has the NDP promised to do the right thing. The issue is not “confusion” as he claims, rather the issue is large, complex classes and too few resources.

It sometimes feels that the NDP simply like to use our situation to play partisan politics rather than address the issues. The biggest media story they made of the last court case (when our contract stripping was found illegal for a second time) was the fact that the judge found the government to have provoked a strike. While important, the revelation about the government’s deliberate provocation of the strike pales in comparison to systematically underfunding schools and robbing teacher’s of their constitutional rights.

The Greens have also weighed in on the dispute, with a frustrating opinion piece by interim party leader Adam Olsen and a more thoughtful, if still problematic, blog post from MLA Andrew Weaver. Both refuse to take sides, implicitly suggesting the teachers’ complaints are not justified. Olsen writes, “it appears they have given up on making a real effort to find common ground, and instead focused their efforts on winning a publicity battle that is detrimental to our children and their teachers.”

I wonder if either Olsen or Weaver believe that if someone steals your house, and you get into a feud about it, the right answer is to just split it in half in a compromise?

Party politics aside, teachers are strong on the ground and the mood solid.Teachers are angry about the lockout, in which we do all our work for 90% of our pay. But spirits are high – we’re giving it our 90%!

Tara Ehrcke is bargaining chair and past president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association.

Read More: RankandFile.ca

Metaphors We Bargain By: Labor-Management as Marriage

Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By changed forever complacency about the structure of language by showing how deeply rooted metaphors are constitutive of the way we think and act rather than simply flowery poetic forms of language use. These metaphors are deeply embedded and can be simple (up is good) or multi-faceted (love is a journey; argument is war). Metaphors simplify what is complex or new and they are never neutral but communicate values and ideologies, often shifting or diverting attention in their use.

There is no doubt in British Columbian’s minds the BCTF and the BC government do not have a warm fuzzy relationship. Indeed the working relationship between the two has seriously deteriorated over the past 10+ years. The current labor conflict between the British Columbia Teacher Federation (BCTF) and the British Columbia government has politicians, pundits, students, and others saying labor and management is a marriage. The marriage metaphor now crops up to offer ‘a way forward’ in labor-management in BC public education.

Let’s be clear about one thing to start. This metaphor is not meant to be a universal metaphor for labor-management… would anyone think the locked out IKEA workers and IKEA or the teamsters and the Port Authority are married to one another? Not likely. Here are a few illustrations of the marriage metaphor being used to (re)construct labor-management in BC public education. Note that the inclusion of students as off-spring of the BCTF-BCEd marriage is the core idea upon which the metaphor turns.

Like any troubled marriage, it is ultimately the children who are hurt in the bickering and squabbling. But unlike a family breakup, there are 558,985 public school students affected. Divorce is simply not an option. (Andrew Weaver, MLA)

But unlike a constantly quarreling couple that should just split up and go their separate ways, the provincial government and the teachers’ union can’t get a divorce — not now, not ever. The sour marriage desperately needs counselling, especially if we don’t want the relationship to affect the kids, in this case B.C. students. (Bill Tieleman, The Tyee)

To say a dysfunctional relationship between two parents doesn’t affect the children would be an outrageous lie. The relationship between the BCTF and the province is very much the same and the effects are mostly felt by the students. (Jacob Smith, 12th grade student)

The marriage metaphor, as it is used in these cases, draws on a few key ideas: there is a couple (BCTF and BCEd), they have children (all students in BC schools), and the parents have common goals and whatever differences they have in achieving those goals must be sorted out for the sake of the children (students) because divorce is out of the question (hmmm, what kind of marriage is this?), and if needs be counseling (BC Labor Relations Board Relationship Enhancement Program) should be sought to overcome differences between parents.

Does the Marriage Metaphor Work?

Paranthetically, the marriage metaphor at least gives us a respite from the education as market with children/families as consumers metaphor that is even more ubiquitous in discussions of public education.

So BCTF and BCEd as a troubled married couple with children works if the marriage reflects an abusive relationship, where one partner (BCEd) has forced and bent the other (BCTF) to its will. The fact that twice the BC Supreme Court has ruled that the government acted illegally is plenty of evidence of abuse, and the government’s unwillingness to make things right suggests the abuse is ongoing. (So court rulings as a marital counseling strategy don’t appear effective.)

The marriage metaphor may be more tenuous in assuming that both partners share the same goals, in this case doing right by the kids. Let’s assume that this is a common goal, but what each partner means by doing right by the kids may be fundamentally different. For example, one need not be too cynical to suggest BCEd’s doing right by the kids is to encourage individualism, focus on vocational, jobs oriented education, get those kids out on their own as soon as possible and contribute to the economy. And, although maybe a bit generous, BCTF’s doing right by the kids is in creating a more comfy, tenable, child-friendly workplace for themselves which will in turn make for happy children. These are not trivial, just humorous differences.

And the success of the metaphor hinges on the possibility that counseling will not just be helpful, but will be THE means for overcoming differences. In this counseling BCEd will face up to the fact its been abusive and learn new strategies for being a fair and equitable partner. BCTF will learn new and less disruptive strategies for asserting itself (no more strikes!). (We’ve seen already that legal rulings haven’t been an effective couples therapy, and it’s an open question whether the LRB programs would be.) Meanwhile, the kids are alright (well not really, because this metaphor silences students and strips their agency, in and out of school). I’m no expert on marital counseling, but I’m thinking this remedy has limited potential for success; optimistically, maybe 50-50 for a kiss and make-up and ‘moving forward.’

The labor-management as marriage metaphor diverts attention from fundamental and healthy conflict over the purposes and interests served by public education. The current BC neo-liberal oriented government interests are not the same interests of the poor and working class, First Nations communities, rural and inner city communities, education workers, many parents.

Other Metaphors to Ponder

How ever we think about public education and the relationship between the BCTF and BCEd we will be thinking metaphorically. It’s important for us to use our metaphors wisely and mine them for understanding and taking action. Maybe the marriage metaphor has some traction in finding ‘a way forward’, although I doubt it. Perhaps we should be finding ‘our way home’ or ‘destroying the system’ or ‘moving on,’ but those are metaphors for another day.

Now that we are on to the power of metaphor, let’s think about Labor-Management as…

  • war
  • argument
  • ladder
  • contest
  • duel

Over to you.

#BCed teachers strike #soldaritylookslikethis @FassbenderMLA #bcpoli # yteubc

BCTFstrike2014

Solidarity Looks Like This

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker and BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair are on the picket line this morning in Vancouver as teachers, parents and students stand together. Yes, Minister Fassbender and BC Liberals, solidarity looks like this. BCTF teachers deserve a fair deal and fair bargaining practices. Minister Fassbender, the BC Federation stands for and with the BCTF teachers, solidarity looks like this.

BCFedBCTFstrike2014

BCTF President Jim Iker and BC Fed President Jim Sinclair on the picket line this morning in Vancouver

#BCed teachers begin rolling strikes #bcpoli #edstudies #yteubc

fair-deal

VESTA, May 24, 2014 /CNW/ – All schools across School District #39 Vancouver will be behind picket lines [today] on Monday May 26th, as local teachers join their colleagues across the province in taking a stand for smaller classes, better support for students, and a fair and reasonable salary increase.

“Teachers in our community, like teachers across BC, don’t take this job action lightly,” said Gerry Kent, President of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association. “As teachers, we care deeply about our students and we empathize with parents who have to rework their schedules. Many of us are parents too, and that is one of the reasons we are taking this action. Parents and all citizens should be dismayed by a decade of annual budget and service cuts made by underfunded school districts across the province. These cuts affect the education of our children and grandchildren.”

Teachers are being forced to step up job action because they have been at the bargaining table for 16 months and the provincial government and the BC Public School Employers’ Association still refuse to offer any improvements to class size, class composition, and other important learning conditions for students. On top of that, the employer’s wage offer is unfair especially considering that the last time teachers got a raise was July 2010.

BC’s per student funding is $1,000 per student less than the national average, a level of underfunding that has had serious consequences across the province. Provincial government underfunding has affected a generation of students since 2002. Supports for students with special needs and English language learners, and other services provided by specialist teachers such as counsellors, librarians, and speech and language pathologists have been eroded because of staffing cuts caused by underfunding.

The rotating closures are part of a two-stage strike plan that teachers approved in March, with an 89% yes vote. Any extension of the rotating job action will depend on developments at the bargaining table.

“Teachers remain committed to reaching a fair deal at the negotiating table.” Kent said. “This government must make education a priority, show respect for the work of teachers and come to the bargaining table with the funds needed to improve supports for students. Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender need to stop the rhetoric and show real leadership. Putting families first requires a strong and well funded public education system.

For more details, please visit www.AFairDeal.ca

SOURCE VESTA: Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association

#BCed teachers may move to rotating strikes #bcpoli #yteubc #edstudies

CBC News, May 12, 2014–Parents in B.C. are being prepared for an escalation in teacher job action should current contract negotiations fail.

Vancouver School Board superintendent of schools, Steve Cardwell hasissued a letter to all parents and guardians warning of potential rotating school closures across the province should a settlement not be reached.

“We understand that the BCTF may choose to escalate their job action to a second phase which could include ‘rotating’ school closures,” the letter states.

“If this were to occur, the union would be providing us 48 hours of notice and we would, of course, advise parents of this action.”

The letter was not intended to alarm parents, says VSB spokesperson Kurt Heinrich. Rather it was intended to keep them in the loop.

“A big part of that is just to make sure that parents aren’t going to be caught unaware of the situation,” he said.

“As soon as we would receive that notice, we would immediately be communicating it to our parent population so they would know what to expect. And then we would go from there “

A  B.C. Teachers’ Federation spokesperson said that while escalating job action is a possibility, there are no plans at the moment to move to stage 2 job action.

During stage 1 action, teachers are refusing to supervise students outside the classroom or communicate in writing with principals and other administrators.

Teachers are still taking attendance, marking and assessing students, completing report cards, communicating with parents and participating in volunteer extracurricular activities.

Their contracts expired last June, and the federation says it’s being forced to take action because negotiations are slow.

Read More: CBC News

Everything you need to know about #bced bargaining (a history) #bcpoli #yteubc

Katie Hyslop, The Tyee, May 4, 2014– It’s been almost a year since British Columbian teachers saw their contracts expire, but the union and its employer couldn’t be further apart at the bargaining table.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has demanded a four-year teacher contract with a 10.75 per cent wage increase, plus 2.75 cost of living increase, a return to the class size and composition rules last seen in 2001, and an increase in the number of specialty teachers like counsellors and teacher librarians hired in B.C. districts. The employer has calculated the union’s wage proposal at 15.9 per cent, assuming the national cost of living index will be 1.5 per cent every year until 2017.*

In contrast, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association is proposing a 10-year deal, with a 1.75 per cent wage increase on ratification. It includes a total 6.5 per cent wage increase over the first six years, with contract negotiations reopened in the sixth year to determine further, if any, wage increases. Class size and composition levels, as imposed by the government through 2012′s Education Improvement Act, would remain the same under the employer’s terms.

Efforts to pressure each other into making concessions have had little effect. Now, over 40,000 members of the teachers’ union are currently in stage one of a three-stage “job action,” after 89 per cent of them voted in favour of a gradual strike last month.

Their employer responded to the action last week by presenting the union with an estimated $5-million bill to cover teachers’ health and welfare benefits premiums in June, unless a negotiated deal is reached before the school year ends — a move the union called illegal.

Current negotiations, ongoing for 15 months, are further complicated by a B.C. Supreme Court decision in January that found the government’s response to an earlier ruling, preventing teachers from bargaining class size and composition levels until after current contract negotiations are settled, was also unconstitutional.

The government appealed the January decision, which is expected to be heard in court in October.

Collective bargaining between the B.C. government and the union has a dizzying, yet important history. The troubles began under the Social Credit government of the 1980s and continued under the New Democratic Party government of the 1990s, but the issue has become much more heated since the current BC Liberal government came to power in 2001. Teachers haven’t forgotten any of it.

Looking back at 13 years of quarrelling, one may find hints to where the current bargaining dispute is headed. If you don’t remember every strike vote or court case, this refresher is for you.

Keep reading: The Tyee

#BCed negotiator confirms BC #Liberals bargained in bad faith with teachers #bcpoli #ubc # yteubc #ubced

Katie Hyslop, The Tyee, March 6, 2014– In a letter to the editor sent to the Creston Valley Advance on March 5, Melanie Joy, a trustee for the Kootenay Lake School District and former chair of the BC Public School Employers Association, said the provincial government bargained in bad faith during the 2011-12 teacher collective agreement negotiations.

Joy, who chaired the negotiating team charged with reaching a deal with the teachers union from 2011 to 2013, said she appreciates current Education Minister Peter Fassbender was not involved in negotiations at the time, but said his assertions that government was fully committed to bargaining a collective agreement with the union are “inconsistent with my experience.”

“By my firsthand recollection, government tactics concerning the Bill 28 reconciliation sessions, and collective bargaining between the BCTF and BCPSEA, were accurately described in Justice Griffin’s BC Supreme Court ruling when she concluded, “Government thought that a teachers strike would give the government a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support.

This strategy was pursued, in part, by the restrictive bargaining mandate set by government in addition to the net-zero monetary directive. No other part of the public sector was asked to seek so many concessions from a union with no increase in compensation.”

In 2012, the provincial government introduced the Education Improvement Act, which prevented teachers from negotiating class size and composition limits until after an agreement had been signed, instead setting government’s own class size limits. It also installed a mediator — Charles Jago, a BC Liberal Party donor and author of a 2006 BC Progress Board report that said the province’s education system was “constrained by legislated processes and provisions as well as by labour agreements” — to help reach an agreement between the teachers’ union and its employers.

Joy said the employers’ association and Jago tried their best, and succeeded, in reaching a negotiated deal. But government was disappointed with the effort.

“Although the negotiated agreement met the monetary mandate, government representatives informed us of their dissatisfaction with the agreement, including the lost opportunity, now identified in the recent judgment, to “impose concessions which advance education initiatives” through legislation triggered by the failure of collective bargaining.”

Minister Fassbender’s public statements about wanting to reach a long-term negotiated collective agreement in the current round of bargaining is undermined by government’s actions in this area, said Joy, referring specifically to government’s replacement of the employers’ association’s negotiating team this past summer with one government negotiator.

“Despite how pleased the minister now claims to be with the negotiated agreement, the facts that this government 1) moved swiftly after the election to replace elected school trustees on the [association's] board with its own public administrator, 2) appoint a government negotiator in the midstream of current [union] bargaining, and 3) replace the senior staff at [the association], tell a very different story.”

Given the ongoing teachers strike action vote, Joy concluded her letter by advising the government to heed Justice Susan Griffin’s recent decision on the unconstitutionality of the Education Improvement Act.

“In the future, it might be wise to follow Griffin’s reflection that perhaps, “This affirms the wisdom of the Korbin labour relations model: government is removed from the direct bargaining relationship with public sector employees and bargaining takes place with the employer association, which has a more direct interest in reaching agreement.”

Read her entire letter here. Results of the union’s strike action vote will be announced at a BC Teachers’ Federation press conference tonight at 9:30 p.m.

Read More: The Tyee

#BCed teachers overwhelmingly approve strike vote #bcpoli #ubc #ubced #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF News Release, March 6, 2014– A total of 26,051 teachers voted yes in a province-wide vote conducted March 4–6, 2014. In all, 29,301 teachers cast ballots, of whom 89% voted yes.

“With this vote, BC teachers have sent a very clear message to the BC government; it’s time to negotiate in good faith, take back the unreasonable proposals, and offer teachers a fair deal that also provides better support for students,” BCTF President Jim Iker said.

In releasing the results, Iker stressed that there is no immediate action planned. “There will be no job action tomorrow, there will be no job action next week,” Iker said. “Teachers now have 90 days to activate the strike vote with some sort of action. There is no set timing for when we will begin. It will depend entirely on what is happening at the negotiating table and whether or not the government and employers’ association are prepared to be fair and reasonable.

“BC teachers are committed to negotiating a deal at the table. That is our goal. The vote is about putting pressure on both sides to get an agreement. We will work very hard to get that negotiated settlement without any job action. A strike vote is a normal process in labour relations and helps apply pressure to both parties during negotiations.”

If job action becomes necessary, Iker outlined that it will occur in stages, but any initial action will not:

  • include immediate school closures or disruption for students
  • ask teachers to stop participating in extracurricular activities
  • affect report cards or communication with parents.

Any initial job action will be administrative in nature and have no impact on student learning. If, at some point talks stall or government does not move on key areas, that initial job action could escalate into rotating strikes. Once again, it depends on events at the negotiating table. There will be no full-scale walk out as a result of this vote. Such action would require another province-wide vote of the BCTF membership.

“Teachers voted so overwhelmingly in favour because the government has tabled unfair and unreasonable proposals that would undo the class size, class composition, and specialist teacher staffing levels we just won back in a BC Supreme Court Ruling,” said Iker. “The employer’s salary offer is also less than what was given to other public sector workers and ignores how far BC teachers have fallen behind their colleagues across Canada.”

Day of action or general strike in BC? #bced #bcpoli #bcfed #ubc #bced #yteubc

Consistently for well over a decade the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has stepped up for labour leadership, and thereby opened opportunities for every worker in the province. This has meant taking hard stands at the bargaining table, strike votes, job action, and strikes. At each moment this meant giving time and giving up wages so that other and future workers benefit. At each and every step the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) was there with the BCTF, sitting, standing, and walking beside the teachers. This time is no different as the teachers stand up once again this week to take a strike vote against unfair labour practices.

Make no mistake, a month after a BC Supreme Court finding of the BC Liberals’ underhanded and unfair labour practices, this is a no confidence vote in the Ministers of education and labour if not the government itself. Nearly a decade since mobilizing workers into a general strike capacity in the province, it may be time once again for the BCFED to mobilize a Day of Action. More than 1993 and 1994 or 2004 and 2005, worker and student discontent in BC is boiling over. The BCTF is once again adopting a leadership role and we can expect the BCFED and workers in the province to share in this current stand against unfair labour practices.