Tag Archives: unions

Sandra Mathison explains how #VSB39 firing by #BCED Minister is political and partisan #bcpoli #UBCeduc ##UBCBEd2017 #ubc

Sandra Mathison, The Globe and Mail, October 19, 2016–  Education Minister Mike Bernier fired the Vancouver School Board on Monday morning, a shocking move illustrating how very differently the public and the politicians see the role of school boards. On the one hand the public sees school boards as advocates for their community and their schools. On the other hand the government sees school boards as technocrats appropriately constrained by the B.C. School Act to manage school districts.

Citizens go to the polls in an election year and vote for school trustees who will manage the school district, but voters also expect advocacy for the district, schools and children. The public does not see itself as simply electing bureaucrats; they elect champions. Greater parental involvement in schools was established in the 1970s and 80s with the creation of parent advisory committees giving members of the public every reason to believe their voices matter. With control vested in the politicians and educational bureaucracy of the moment, school trustee advocacy for well-funded, appropriate education is framed in relation to the current provincial party (the B.C. Liberals) and educational leadership (Minister of Education Bernier).

As shocking as firing the Vancouver School Board is, the provincial government’s action reflects a historical pattern of centralized education governance that has become ever more acute. By law, school boards are subordinate to the provincial government and charged with managing the budget and implementing the curriculum and standards set by the ministry. This change is not recent and began as early as the 1970s although escalated dramatically with Socred changes to school governance in the 1980s.

Firing school boards is draconian but it has happened before in British Columbia. In 1985, the Socreds fired both the Vancouver and Cowichan trustees for submitting needs-based budgets rather than complying with government-set spending limits. Provincial governments have made other changes to school boards that have outraged the electorate, such as the NDP’s 1995 plan to centralize schools and reduce the number of school boards from 75 to 37 (a plan only partly implemented and a reduction in the number of school districts to the current 60).

Even though firing a school board in B.C. is legal within a centralized education system, it is unmistakably a political act. The BC Liberals have been in an antagonistic relationship with local education authorities and other education constituencies such as the BC Teachers’ Federation for years. Firing the VSB trustees is a political move, but it is also a bureaucratic move that fosters the centralization of educational decision-making. It is easy to see this as merely a partisan move, rather than one that is both political and partisan.

Mr. Bernier accused the VSB trustees of spending too much time on advocacy and too little time on following the rules. Many Vancouver parents accuse the B.C. Liberals of flouting democracy for political ends.

This dramatic situation in Vancouver raises the question: Are school boards necessary? The answer has to be yes.

Read More: The Globe and Mail

Vancouver’s polar opposites in funding K-12 v University #ubc #vsb39 #ubceduc #bced

UBC's Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre

UBC’s Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre

Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, Vancouver Observer, October 7, 2016– Vancouver, the city of disparities, is faced with polar opposites in its educational system.

The contrast between K-12 schools and the university in Vancouver could not be more stark: The schools sinking in debt with rapidly declining enrolments and empty seats versus the university swimming in cash and bloating quotas to force excessive enrolments beyond capacity.

With central offices just 7km or 12 minutes apart, the two operate as if in different hemispheres or eras: the schools laying off teachers and planning to close buildings versus the university given a quota for preparing about 650 teachers for a glutted market with few to no jobs on the remote horizon in the largest city of the province.

There is a gateway from grade 12 in high school to grade 13 in the university but from a finance perspective there appears an unbreachable wall between village and castle.

Pundits and researchers are nonetheless mistaken in believing that the Vancouver schools’ current $22m shortfall is disconnected from the university’s $36m real estate windfall this past year.

The schools are begging for funds from the Liberals, who, after saying no to K-12, turn around to say yes to grades 13-24 and pour money into the University of British Columbia, no questions asked.

There may be two ministries in government, Education and Advanced Education; there is but one tax-funded bank account.

Read More: Vancouver Observer

#Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor: New issue of Workplace #ubcnews #UBCeduc #criticaleducation

Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

Special Issue of Workplace
Edited by
Karen Lynn Gregory & Joss Winn

Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory in the contemporary university… we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor. 

Table of Contents

  • Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
    Karen Lynn Gregory, Joss Winn
  • Towards an Orthodox Marxian Reading of Subsumption(s) of Academic Labour under Capital
    Krystian Szadkowski
  • Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety
    Richard Hall, Kate Bowles
  • Taxi Professors: Academic Labour in Chile, a Critical-Practical Response to the Politics of Worker Identity
    Elisabeth Simbürger, Mike Neary
  • Marxism and Open Access in the Humanities: Turning Academic Labor against Itself
    David Golumbia
  • Labour in the Academic Borderlands: Unveiling the Tyranny of Neoliberal Policies
    Antonia Darder, Tom G. Griffiths
  • Jobless Higher Ed: Revisited, An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
    Stanley Aronowitz, Karen Lynn Gregory

Special issue: Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements #highered #bced #criticaled

We are thrilled to launch this Special Issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labour:

Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements

Special Issue of Workplace
Edited by
Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown & Khuram Hussain

Table of Contents

  • Forward: The Systemic Cycle of Brokenness
    • Tamara Anderson
  • Introduction to the Special Issue: Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements
    • Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown, Khuram Hussain
  • Articles
  • Principles to Practice: Philadelphia Educators Putting Social Movement Unionism into Action
    • Rhiannon M Maton
  • Teaching amidst Precarity: Philadelphia’s Teachers, Neighborhood Schools and the Public Education Crisis
    • Julia Ann McWilliams
  • Inquiry, Policy, and Teacher Communities: Counter Mandates and Teacher Resistance in an Urban School District
    • Katherine Crawford-Garrett, Kathleen Riley
  • More than a Score: Neoliberalism, Testing & Teacher Evaluations
    • Megan E Behrent
  • Resistance to Indiana’s Neoliberal Education Policies: How Glenda Ritz Won
    • Jose Ivan Martinez, Jeffery L. Cantrell, Jayne Beilke
  • “We Need to Grab Power Where We Can”: Teacher Activists’ Responses to Policies of Privatization and the Assault on Teachers in Chicago
    • Sophia Rodriguez
  • The Paradoxes, Perils, and Possibilities of Teacher Resistance in a Right-to-Work State
    • Christina Convertino
  • Place-Based Education in Detroit: A Critical History of The James & Grace Lee Boggs School
    • Christina Van Houten
  • Voices from the Ground
  • Feeling Like a Movement: Visual Cultures of Educational Resistance
    • Erica R. Meiners, Therese Quinn
  • Construir Y No Destruir (Build and Do Not Destroy): Tucson Resisting
    • Anita Fernández
  • Existential Philosophy as Attitude and Pedagogy for Self and Student Liberation
    • Sheryl Joy Lieb
  • Epilogue
  • No Sermons in Stone (Bernstein) + Left Behind (Austinxc04)
    • Richard Bernstein, Austinxc04

Thanks for the continued interest in and support of our journals, Critical Education and Workplace, and our ICES and Workplace blogs. And please keep the manuscripts and ideas rolling in!

Sandra Mathison, Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Directors
Institute for Critical Education Studies

E. Wayne Ross on The Courage of Hopelessness: Democratic Education in the Age of Empire #ubc100 #highered #bced


E. Wayne Ross
University of British Columbia
Friday, January 15th, 2016  12:30-2:00 p.m.
Scarfe Room 310

In this talk I argue there is a disconnect between the rhetoric and reality of democracy in North America that subverts traditional approaches to democratic education. The tropes that have historically dominated the discourse on democracy and democratic education now amount to selling students (and ourselves) a lie about history and contemporary life. Our challenge is to re-imagine our roles as educators and find ways to create opportunities for students to create meaningful personal understandings of the world. Education is not about showing life to people, but bringing them to life. The aim is not getting students to listen to convincing lectures by experts, but getting them to speak for themselves in order to achieve, or at least strive for an equal degree of participation and a more democratic, equitable, and justice future. This requires a new mindset, something I call dangerous citizenship.

Short Bio:
E. Wayne Ross is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at UBC. He has written and edited numerous books including: Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies and Social Education (Sense, 2010); The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems and Possibilities (4th Ed., SUNY Press, 2014) and Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom (Peter Lang, 2016). He also edits the journals Critical Education, Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, and Cultural Logic.

#UBC says Now is the Time to Speculate #ubcnews #highered #bced #caut

With the Chair of BoG and Sauder School of Business administrators under investigation, UBC advises that now is the time to speculate about President Gupta and all University affairs, if not everything. As it should be at a research institution. As it should be with the economy in shambles.

Over the past few weeks, speculation on the sudden resignation of President Gupta has been impressive. For starters, here are some running reasons for the resignation:

  1. The University guesstimates that the resignation was a “leadership transition.”
  2. The FAUBC reports that the University also presumes that the President “wishes to return to the life of a Professor of Computer Science.”
  3. Martha is inclined to accept at face value that this was Arvind’s “decision to step down” and whatever the reason we should respect whatever the University says it is or isn’t.
  4. Jennifer suggests that in challenging Montalbano, Chair of BoG, the President lost a masculinity contest. In other words, he lost what the Romans called a ludi mingo (roughly translated as a p-ing game or contest).
  5. Wayne postulates that triskaidekaphobia finally took its toll on the President, the thirteenth in UBC’s history. The presidential hot-seat– think of the Spinal Tap drummer syndrome here.
  6. Eva fancies that the President was told by the Chair of BoG that his fountain would not spew higher than the Martha Piper Fountain, prominently configured on the highest point of campus at the centre of the Martha Piper Plaza. Alas, President Piper must be reinstalled. This reason adds missing clues and details to #4.
  7. The Ubyssey posits that the President might have found something foreboding in his “performance reports.” This may have required reading between the lines.
  8. Nassif presupposes that the President was yet another of the “victims of end runs by deans,” wherein there is a well-trodden path dating back more than a century.
  9. Charlie conjectures that Montalbano and the BoG evened the score by making Gupta’s tenure difficult after he canned or nudged out VP Ouillet.
  10. Tony has a suspicion that, post Gupta’s resignation, UBC leaders adopted PM Harper’s template of denying implication in the controversy.
  11. CUPE Locals believe that Gupta was “removed by the largely unelected Board of Governors.” Emphasis on “unelected.”
  12. Simona and Frances figure that administrators still left on campus have some answers. They gather that Gupta “didn’t treat administrators with the same care” as faculty members. Needy as they are, certain admin got anxious and jealous. “Arvind was alienating people one at a time,” one administrator confided. It was time for him to go back down to research and teaching.
  13. Andrew reckons that “there’s some kind of mutual agreement” at work. Nobody knows what this agreement is or if it was really mutual or just a fist-bump and not really an agreement in the official sense if it was just a wink wink to agree to disagree.
  14. ? [send us your reckons]

UBC says now is the time to speculate. Indeed, we’re hearing that a new motto for the next one hundred years at UBC is being bounced around in Central: Occasio Speculatio. After all, Tuum Est, the motto for the first hundred never recovered after the students in the 1960s dubbed it: Too Messed.

#UBC crisis of administration extends downward to bloated middle management #highered #caut #bced #ubcnews

The University of British Columbia’s current failures of academic governance may have been publicly signalled by the sudden resignation of President Gupta on 7 August, but the crisis of administration extends well back into the University’s recent past and down into the lower chain of command. In fact, the President’s resignation is just the tip of the iceberg. The failures and crises extend from the President’s Office through the deans down to the bloat of middle managers, assistant and associate deans. Most noticeably, UBC has been skirting and fumbling around Canada’s Federal Contractor’s Program to appoint its middle managers. One might conclude that favouritism, if not nepotism in cases, is common while searches bound by the Federal Program of employment equity are rare. For this rank of middle managers, appointments are made with no procedures and hence there is no input from faculty members or the wider academic community and reappointments are made with no evaluation or review.

Unlike policies governing the appointment of department heads and deans, which are regulated by searches and reviews, there is no University policy to regulate the appointment and reappointment of assistant and associate deans. UBC has 97 policies but suspiciously none to regulate the hiring of these middle managers. Why is this? And unlike other universities (e.g., Simon FraserToronto), at UBC the deans have liberty to appoint middle managers at pleasure or whim. The result is a bloating of the assistant and associate dean ranks from 47 in 2000 to 72 in 2015— ostensibly all without searches or regard for policy. With no policies or searches to regulate or monitor qualifications, the result is a mixed bag and questionable levels of competence.

Faculty members were expecting President Gupta to clean up a mess. Cleaning house, he predictably ran into the resistance of status quo. The provosts and middle managers preferred to leave well enough alone. Consider this for instance:

On 19 September 2014, a few months into President Gupta’s appointment, I submitted a request to the Board of Governors to form a policy for hiring and reappointing assistant and associate deans. Basically, the request was to reign in these at whim appointments, curb the bloat of middle managers and align with fair hiring practices. Refusing to address the request, in October the BoG bounced it to University Counsel, which proceeded to ‘consult’ with the Provosts, Vancouver and Okanagan. On 12 January, I was told by University Counsel that the two Provosts, “who would be the Responsible Executives for such a policy do not consider this to be a priority.” In other words, employment equity does not apply to a large and bloated subset of management within the University. On 23 February and 30 March 2015 I followed up with renewed requests to the President’s Office. The President advised re-routing the request back to the Provost’s Office. I hesitated until the announcement of the Provost, pro tem. Sadly, unwilling to shake up status quo, on 24 June the new Provost repeated the old: “I also do not see it as a priority at this time.”

Although the provosts, and by prerogative the deans, do not consider employment equity and fair procedures “to be a priority” in the appointment of the University’s managers, for the balance of the University faculty and staff, this remains priority.

Bounced around the President’s Office for nearly a year, this basic request to align administrative appointments with hiring guidelines and peer universities has come full circle. The middle management bloat at UBC coincidentally began with President Piper’s initial appointment. Now, looking back and wondering how we got here, requests to deal with the administrative crisis are piling up, higher and deeper. Now, with President Piper back in office, this specific request lands on her desk, regardless of how and where it has been bounced.

With the Faculty Association of UBC calling for the resignation of the Chair of the BoG, perhaps this faculty governance body will make good on its responsibility to form meaningful policy. Top down or bottom up, its time to clean up UBC’s administrative mess, failure by failure, crisis by crisis. Sorry to say provosts, this actually is a priority.

Threat Convergence: The New Academic Work by Petrina, Mathison & Ross #highered #criticaled


Stephen Petrina, Sandra Mathison & E. Wayne Ross

The convergence of the casualization, fragmentation, intensification, segmentation, shifting and creep of academic work with the post-9/11 gentrificaton of criticism and dissent is arguably one of the greatest threats to academic freedom since the Nazi elimination of the Jewish professoriate and critique in 1933, Bantu Education Act’s reinforcement of apartheid in South Africa in 1952, and McCarthyism in Canada and the US in the 1950s and 1960s. In the history of education, this would be quite the claim yet the evidence seems to speak for itself. Academic work has been fragmented into piecemeal modes and intensified as academics absorbed, through amalgamation, traditional clerical staff and counseling work. The balance of the academic workforce has been reduced and casualized or segmented to an “at whim,” insecure, unsalaried part-time labor pool, the 8-hour workday and 40-hour academic workweek collapsed to 60-80 hours, and the primary locus of academic work shifted off-campus as the workplace crept into the home and its communal establishments. Academic stress— manifested as burnout through amalgamation and creep of work, and as distress through bullying, mobbing and victimization— underwrites increases in leaves of absence. Non-tenure track faculty are hit particularly hard, indicating “contingency or the precariousness of their position” as relentless stressors.

Nowadays, it’s whimsical to reminisce about work-life balance and promises that the academic workforce will be renewed as boomers retire with baited expectations, or that the workweek and workplace for salaried full-timers could be contained within the seduction of flextime and telecommuting. In many ways, the flexible workplace is the plan for boomers by boomers with both nest eggs and limits on retirement age breaking. As currency values, retirement portfolios, and savings spiral downward while dependent children and grandchildren and inflation spiral upward, incentives to retire erode. Precariously unemployed, underemployed and part-time academics aside, boomers still in the academic system are trended to face the biggest losses. As economic incentives to retire decrease, incentives for intellectual immortality and legacy management flourish with the boomers’ political leanings moving toward the center. One can hardly blame them.

Enthusiasts of anything “flexible” (learning, space, time, work, etc.) and everything “tele” (commuting, conference, learning, phone, work, etc.), academics readily workshift with additional liability but no additional remuneration— instead is an unquestioned acceptance of the “overtime exemption”— while the employer saves about $6,500 per year per worker in the tradeoff as worksite or workspace shifts from campus to home. The academic workweek is now conservatively 60 hours with many PT and FT reporting persistent 70-80 hour weeks. Perhaps academic women can finally have it all after putting in the 120 hour workweek. One reason institutions now cope with many fewer FT hires is that academics are all too willing to do the work of two. As Gina Anderson found a decade ago, “with apparently unconscious irony, many academics reported that they particularly valued the flexibility of their working week, in terms of both time and space… in the same breath as reporting working weeks in the order of 60 hours.” For most academic workers, the cost of flexibility is effectively a salary cut as overheads of electricity, heat, water, communication and consumables are shifted to the home. Carbon footprint reductions are a net benefit and for a minority, the savings of commuting and parking offset the costs of this homework or housework. What is the nature or implications of this increasing domestication of academic work and displacement of the academic workplace? For academic couples with or without children, the dynamics of housecohabitry, househusbandry or housewifery necessarily change as the academic workplace shifts and labor creeps into the home. With temptations to procrastinate on deluges of academic deadlines, academic homes have never been cleaner and more organized. Nevermind the technocreep of remote monitoring. Over the long run, although some administrators cling to the digital punch card and time stamp with Hivedesk, Worksnaps or MySammy, “smashing the clock” in the name of flextime and telework is about the best thing that ever happened to academic capitalism.

This is not exactly a SWOT analysis, where Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are given due treatment. Rather, the focus is on this threat convergence as it resolves through historic displacements of the academic workplace and work. To what degree are the new policies for academic speech inscribed in academic work, regardless of where it’s done? As the academic workplace is increasingly displaced and distributed, are academic policies displaced and distributed as well? Observed at work, monitored at home and tracked in between—these are not so much choices as the cold reality of 21st century academic work.

Read More: Threat Convergence


New Workplace Issue: Reforming Academic #Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and #HigherEd

New Workplace Issue #25

Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

CFP: Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor #ices #criticaltheory #criticalpedagogy #frankfurtschool

Call for Papers
Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

Special Issue of Workplace
Guest Editors: Karen Gregory & Joss Winn

Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory: individual autonomy is decreasing, contractual conditions are worsening, individual mental health issues are rising, and academic work is being intensified. Despite our theoretical advances and concerted practical efforts to resist these conditions, the gains of the 20th century labor movement are diminishing and the history of the university appears to be on a determinate course. To date, this course is often spoken of in the language of “crisis.”

While crisis may indeed point us toward the contemporary social experience of work and study within the university, we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor and its ensuing forms of value. By this, we mean a negative critique of academic labor and its role in the political economy of capitalism; one which focuses on understanding the basic character of ‘labor’ in capitalism as a historically specific social form. Beyond the framework of crisis, what productive, definite social relations are actively resituating the university and its labor within the demands, proliferations, and contradictions of capital?

We aim to produce a negative critique of academic labor that not only makes transparent these social relations, but repositions academic labor within a new conversation of possibility.

We are calling for papers that acknowledge the foundational work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels for labor theory and engage closely and critically with the critique of political economy. Marx regarded his discovery of the dual character of labor in capitalism (i.e. concrete and abstract) as one of his most important achievements and “the pivot on which a clear comprehension of political economy turns.” With this in mind, we seek contributions that employ Marx’s and Engels’ critical categories of labor, value, the commodity, capital, etc. in reflexive ways which illuminate the role and character of academic labor today and how its existing form might be, according to Marx, abolished, transcended and overcome (aufheben).


  1. A variety of forms and approaches, demonstrating a close engagement with Marx’s theory and method: Theoretical critiques, case studies, historical analyses, (auto-)ethnographies, essays, and narratives are all welcome. Contributors from all academic disciplines are encouraged.
  2. Any reasonable length will be considered. Where appropriate they should adopt a consistent style (e.g. Chicago, Harvard, MLA, APA).
  3. Will be Refereed.
  4. Contributions and questions should be sent to:

Joss Winn (jwinn@lincoln.ac.uk) and Karen Gregory (kgregory@ccny.cuny.edu)

New #UBC Grad Program in Critical Pedagogy & Education Activism #bctf #bced #bcpoli #yreubc #occupyed



The new UBC Masters Program in Critical Pedagogy and Education Activism (Curriculum Studies) has the goal of bringing about positive change in schools and education. This cohort addresses issues such as environmentalism, equity and social justice, and private versus public education funding debates and facilitates activism across curriculum and evaluation within the schools and critical analysis and activism in communities and the media. The cohort is organized around three core themes: solidarity, engagement, and critical analysis and research.


The new UBC M.Ed. in Critical Pedagogy and Education Activism (Curriculum Studies) is a cohort program in which participants attend courses together in a central location. It supports participation in face-to-face, hybrid (blended), and online activism and learning.

A Perfect Opportunity

  • Earn your Master’s degree in 2 years (part-time)
  • Enjoy the benefits of collaborative study and coalition building
  • Channel your activism inside and outside school (K-12)
  • Sharpen your knowledge of critical practices and skill with media and technology

Petrina and Ross on the #BCTF and @BCLiberals #ubc #yreubc #criticaled #bced


Discussants: Stephen Petrina and Wayne Ross
Scarfe 310
November 4, 2014
12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
Light lunch and gathering Noon to 12:30 pm
Year of Research in Education event

This research conversation will focus on
The Legacy of the B. C. Teachers – Government Impasse

Two questions for discussion might well be:

  • What fundamental problems remain after a “settlement” has been reached? Should these problems affect the curriculum and pedagogy of courses in the UBC Teacher Education program?
  • To this department conversation we encourage faculty to bring with them one or two of their degree candidates, those having written comprehensive exams or in the process of so doing.

Hosted by Wm. Doll and Donna Trueit

If you have a job, thank a #bced teacher #bctf #bcpoli


If you have a job, if you want a job, thank a teacher. And those of us who work in British Columbia truly are indebted to the teachers. Not in some academic way; rather, we are indebted for the BC teachers’ / BCTF’s stand for workers’ rights, for fair bargaining rights, for the right to call into question the failures of employers and governments.

If you don’t have a job, and more and more do not, thank the government and your local elected economist. The economy continues to fail and labour discontent is increasing for good reasons.

This particular teachers’ strike is over but more labour unrest is on the horizon in BC. Who’s next?

Nurses, doctors, postsecondary educators and workers at major Crown corporations including B.C. Hydro and the Insurance Corp. of B.C. are some of the public-sector workers who have not yet accepted the government’s standard offer of 5.5-per-cent wage increases over five years.

The public sector contracts that are still up in the air represent half of the workers, but they include some of the most expensive contracts, accounting for two-thirds of the government’s $21-billion wage bill this year.

That creates significant uncertainty for a B.C. budget that remains balanced on a razor’s edge…

Contract Status of BCPSECRead More: Justine Hunter, Globe & Mail

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


“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?”

#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?”

#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.


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

Rally for public #BCed support teachers June 19 6pm #bcpoli #ubc #yteubc


All Together for Public Education
Rally for Better Support for Kids | Rally to Support BC Teachers

Thursday, June 19, 2014 – 6:00 p.m.

Canada Place, Vancouver

The Officers of the BC Federation of Labour held a conference call today and pledged full support for the BC Teachers Federation who are now engaged in a full strike province-wide for a fair collective agreement.
A mass rally for teachers, activists, parents, and union members is this Thursday, June 19, 2014 at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver, starting at 6 p.m.  (Music and creative poster making at about 5)