Teacher Strike Update, from Andrew Davidoff – BCTF President for SD 20

Gov agendaThe following is an informational mailout that was sent out to local teachers recently.  It outlines very well the ongoing struggles and issues that our Teachers and their employers are still battling out.  It was reposted with permission from Andrew Davidoff, the SD 20 Local President for the BCTF.  

This ongoing bargaining dispute shows us all exactly what length the liberal government is willing to go to in order to promote their agenda on public sector unions, and should be a warning to all of us!

From BCTF Mailout:

A. Teachers and government back at the table

The bargaining teams representing the BCTF and BCPSEA met at the employer’s office throughout the day on Friday.

Last week, when the timing of this bargaining session was set, both parties agreed on a joint statement indicating that the goal would be “to seek a way forward for resolving the current bargaining dispute before the start of the new school year.”

BCTF President Jim Iker and BCPSEA chief negotiator Peter Cameron agreed that discussions will continue next week.

B. Local Summer Picketing

Please note, that the following resolution was passed unanimously at the Special KCTU Executive Committee Meeting held on July 24, 2014:

“That local picketing will resume unless the government makes a significant move to resolve our contract dispute in the next two weeks.”

We will continue to monitor the meetings between the parties and will make a decision on local summer picketing based on bargaining progress.

C. Bargaining myth busting: Working conditions and the court case

“Workload,” as an item for the bargaining table, was returned to the scope of bargaining in 2012 after the BC Liberals brought in Bill 22. Workload encompasses items such as ratios for specialist teachers, limits on class size, and language pertaining to class composition—all issues that address students’ learning conditions and teachers’ working conditions.

This is the first round of collective bargaining in which the BCTF can negotiate workload issues since 2002, when then Education Minister Christy Clark brought in the unconstitutional Education Flexibility & Choice Act.

With or without our recent BC Supreme Court win, and regardless of the fact that this decision is being challenged by government in the BC Court of Appeal in October, BCPSEA and the BCTF can negotiate workload language at the bargaining table in this round.

Currently, BCPSEA is only willing to move the status quo into our collective agreement. That is, the employer is proposing to move the Learning Improvement Fund, now in statute and government regulations, into our collective agreement. There is no commitment to new funding, nor any commitment to improve the process.

BCPSEA also currently has language on the table that would undo our Supreme Court victories if they don’t like what the BC Court of Appeal ultimately rules. Obviously, this will not do. Teachers need to see meaningful improvements in our working conditions as soon as possible.

With the approval of the Representative Assembly, our bargaining team moved off our original position on these matters. Initially, we were seeking actual class size limits, a weighting formula for class composition, and specific ratios for specialist teachers. Late last spring, however, we moved to our current proposal, which is meant to be interim language until the court case is resolved. Our current proposal moves away from specific limits or ratios, and instead would see a pool of funds (beyond what is currently being offered by the employer) with an improved process so that meaningful changes can occur in teaching and learning conditions once the new collective agreement is in place.

Workload was set as a priority objective by the provincial Bargaining Conference based on the overwhelming feedback from members.

D.  Six reasons the BC Liberals shouldn’t use students as $40-a-day pawns

The Broadbent Institute has collected some of the best responses to the BC Liberals’ latest scheme to pay parents a daily stipend should the strike continue into fall:

“As cynical political gimmicks go, this one has got to rank as one of the worst: offering parents $40 a day for each child under the age of 13 if a teachers’ strike continues into September”.

But after negotiating in bad faith to goad teachers to go on strike (Globe and Mail), Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government played this card last week. Since then, the offering has been widely panned as the two sides head back to the negotiating table on Friday.

Here are six British Columbians explaining why it’s such a bad idea.

1. “Band-Aid solution”

Instead of putting money into the education system, they’re taking the wages that we’ve forfeited as a desperate measure to show the government that our schools are in crisis and they’re putting them into private hands.

And I totally get that child care is an issue when we’re on strike. I’m sympathetic to that, really. But this $40 is a Band-Aid solution. Handing out a stipend for a temporary disruption does nothing to solve the reasons that we’re on strike in the first place. (B.C. teacher Ashley D. MacKenzie 

2. Bad “performance-art stunt”

“Reportedly the offer could offset the costs of child care, or tutoring, or finding online courses. Or maybe beer and popcorn for the parents as a consolation for spending unpaid quality time with their kids.

Whatever the impromptu baby bonus might be for, it’s scant compensation for missed days or weeks of school. It also offers an insight into the way the BC Liberals think about government in general and education in particular.

On the face of it, [the] announcement seemed like one of those performance-art stunts, that right-wing governments are so fond of, like ending the long-form census. They’re not responding to a popular demand, just expressing amused contempt for their adversaries.

It’s certainly not a serious proposal. Good luck finding child care on short notice when everyone else is too, and what parent can judge a tutor’s qualifications? For that matter, what parent would allow a stranger to be alone at home with their kids while Mom and Dad are working?….

One reason, I suspect, is partly to give the teachers a poke in the eye for old times’ sake, an opportunity the BC Liberals have never missed since Premier Christy Clark was appointed the party’s first education minister in 2001.

But another reason may be to resurrect a zombie idea that should have died in the 1980s and ’90s: the school voucher.” (Christy Clark Zombie Tactic)(Crawford Kilian, contributing editor of The Tyee)

3. “Paying not to use” concept
The value of public education is something the current government clearly has doubts about, so let’s consider some other possibilities for this ‘paying not to use’ concept.

Some wags have already suggested that the B.C. Liberals might really be on to something if they are prepared to think about other applications suggested by this brilliant ‘keep your child out of school’ funding model.

Everybody knows health care is the other major drag on the government budget. Health care sucks away money that could be spent on better things, so it might not be long until a new plan emerges — pay people not to go to doctors.

It is a constant source of irritation to some within government that every time somebody gets a little pain or a rash or finds a lump somewhere, they go rushing off to a doctor — if they can find one. Of course, some communities do not have a resident family physician, so there is a saving already.” (Geoff Johnson, a former superintendent of schools)

Geoff Johnson is a retired superintendent of schools.- See more at: (Let’s pay our citizens just to go away

4. “Crazy” plan alert!

The value of public education is something the current government clearly has doubts about, so let’s consider some other possibilities for this “paying not to use” concept.

Some wags have already suggested that the B.C. Liberals might really be on to something if they are prepared to think about other applications suggested by this brilliant “keep your child out of school” funding model.

Everybody knows health care is the other major drag on the government budget. Health care sucks away money that could be spent on better things, so it might not be long until a new plan emerges — pay people not to go to doctors.

It is a constant source of irritation to some within government that every time somebody gets a little pain or a rash or finds a lump somewhere, they go rushing off to a doctor — if they can find one. Of course, some communities do not have a resident family physician, so there is a saving already.

– See more at: (Let’s pay our citizens just to go away

The value of public education is something the current government clearly has doubts about, so let’s consider some other possibilities for this “paying not to use” concept.

Some wags have already suggested that the B.C. Liberals might really be on to something if they are prepared to think about other applications suggested by this brilliant “keep your child out of school” funding model.

Everybody knows health care is the other major drag on the government budget. Health care sucks away money that could be spent on better things, so it might not be long until a new plan emerges — pay people not to go to doctors.

It is a constant source of irritation to some within government that every time somebody gets a little pain or a rash or finds a lump somewhere, they go rushing off to a doctor — if they can find one. Of course, some communities do not have a resident family physician, so there is a saving already.

– See more at: (Let’s pay our citizens just to go away

“For Premier Christy Clark, the BC Teachers’ Federation has become Moby-Dick — the object of hatred to be pursued to the end. And Clark has become Captain Ahab, driven mad in her desire to destroy the union version of the white whale.

That became apparent last week when the BC Liberal government announced what truly is a crazy plan – to pay parents of students $40 a day if the BCTF strike continues into September.

Crazy because it makes no sense.

Clark’s scheme would instantly dispose of the estimated $12 million in daily savings from the strike without putting a penny into improving public education.

What’s worse, while the government claimed the money is for ‘child care’ for students under 13 years old, there is no requirement parents spend it on child care – nor is there child care necessarily available to be had, and certainly not for $40 a day.

The move infuriated the BCTF – which it was highly calculated to do – but shows the premier’s unhealthy obsession with harpooning teachers instead of solving the serious underfunding problems in our schools.” (Columnist Bill Tieleman, former BC NDP Strategist)

see more at: Paying Parents During Strike Crazy – Vancouver.24hrs.ca

5. “Cynical ploy”

“If it’s a cynical ploy to sway public sentiment in the government’s favour, it’s not likely to work. Yes, it will be a hardship for many parents if school doesn’t start as scheduled in September, but it’s education they want, not child-care services.

But let’s face it — [the Finance Minister’s] message is not to parents, but to the teachers’ union. He’s saying the government has no interest in negotiating. He’s saying the government holds all the cards and isn’t about to fold….

It’s a clever strategy on the part of the government, but don’t mistake cleverness for intelligence. This is a bad idea for many reasons.

It sets an undesirable precedent. Since when does a government compensate people discomfited by a strike?

It does nothing to advance education in B.C. Paying parents to do educational things with their children is no substitute for the services of professional teachers. (Victoria Times-Columnist editorial)

6. Distorted view of public education

The BC Liberals have already made our education system a corporate affair. By giving back $40 per day to PARENTS for their losses they are continuing their reframing of the purpose of public schooling.

Parents are not our “customers”. We do not teach children so that their parents are free to work, knowing their children are safely off the street.

Education is a public service provided to all of society. This is why it is paid for by everyone, irrespective of the number of children born to them. Even limiting my argument to merely economic goals (the only kind recognized by our government), the nurturing of each child’s creativity and potential is an investment in a vibrant and diverse economy.

With this $40/day offer, the BC Liberals have made a clear statement about how little they value our most precious and valuable resource! (B.C. teacher Maureen Curran)

G. Trustee urges government to settle with teachers

West Vancouver school trustee Reema Farris is a former DPAC chair, post-secondary educator, and blogger who has “a profound belief in the value of education and the benefits of learning as well as a passion for the public education system.”

In a recent posting, which was also republished in The Tyee, (Tyee Article) Farris offers an analysis of the potential consequences of the Appeal Court case to be heard this fall, and urges the government to negotiate a settlement with the teachers. She writes:

“The government is standing on quicksand when it comes to the labour dispute with BC’s teachers although they are acting as if they’re secure in their bunker.

However, if they don’t pursue an out-of-court settlement now (a negotiated settlement which would enable school to start on September 2 as scheduled), if they don’t consider the abyss into which they are staring, when they fall, they will drag students, families, and one of the world’s best public education systems down with them.”