Monday evening: No deal so far

Bargaining information, including history of proposals:

BCPSEA Backgrounder – key proposals compared: 00-DS-Backgrounder-What’s Really on the Table-Bargaining Proposals June 16 2014

BCPSEA Backgrounder – costing the proposals:

Background information from BCTF:

“Call me contrary, but I’m going to start with the good news out of the weekend talks between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the bargaining arm for the B.C. Liberal government.

The union started off on an encouraging footing Friday with a significant reduction in its expectations on the wage front. The bargaining team dropped a demand for built-in cost-of-living increases, for which there was next to no precedent in modern-day bargaining in the public sector.

Then the union announced that it was prepared to accept a five-year deal, another big move considering that the BCTF initially wanted just a three-year deal before going to four.

The shift recognized an important goal of the Liberals, that of obtaining public sector deals extending well beyond the next election. The teacher contract expired June 30 of last year; five years would carry it though to the summer of 2018.

So far so good. After a lengthy back and forth, the government tabled a revised offer Sunday evening that reflected a significant shift on the part of the Liberals.

They boosted the overall wage offer to teachers from a no-strings-attached 6.5 per cent over six years to 7 per cent. More importantly, they front-end-loaded the schedule of raises so teachers would get 1 per cent July 1 and 2 per cent next February for 3 per cent over the first year and a half or so of the term….”

“After a weekend of bargaining between the government and the teachers’ union, Monday dawned with a rare glimmer of hope for resolving the strike/lockout and preventing a full-scale shutdown of the school system.

Both sides went into the crucial bargaining sessions saying they wanted an 11th-hour deal and were willing to budge from their positions to get it. Progress appeared to be made and things seemed to be looking brighter for a change.

But then it all went from the frying pan into the fire.

“The strike is imminent,” said union president Jim Iker, adding the government didn’t seem to want a deal after all.

“It was all talk. The government was unprepared, unwilling and ultimately unhelpful.”

Iker accused the government of actually reducing its wage offer to teachers from 7.25 per cent over six years to just seven per cent.

“They went backward instead of forward,” Iker said.

That triggered an angry response from Peter Cameron, the government’s lead negotiator, who stopped just short of calling Iker a liar.

Cameron said the government’s initial wage offer was just 6.5 per cent, plus a .75-per-cent top-up if the teachers agreed to reduced sick pay.

When the union balked at the sick-pay concession, the government took it off the table and bumped up the wage offer to seven per cent, meaning the teachers were getting a better total wage offer, not a worse one.

“How is seven per cent going backwards from 6.5 per cent?” Cameron asked. “It’s completely wrong and Jim Iker must know it’s wrong. I can’t characterize that as anything other than a misrepresentation.”

Ugly stuff. Forget that glimmer of hope. This dispute is nastier than ever now, and the two sides are still far apart.


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