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.


No school Monday; Strike still on Tuesday as of morning

Public school students across B.C. will not be in classrooms this morning [Monday] as negotiations continue between teachers and the government.

The two sides bargained throughout the weekend at a downtown Vancouver hotel.

Today, teachers are holding study sessions and a full scale strike could begin if a deal isn’t reached by tomorrow.

The teachers’ union served the required 72 hours strike notice last Thursday, after the province’s 41,000 teachers voted 86 per cent in favour of escalating job action.

Things have gone quiet since Friday, with negotiations taking place behind closed doors. Global BC Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey says “no news is good news.”

The BCTF has apparently lowered their wage proposal, but still not to a level that is acceptable to the province. A counter-offer is expected to be presented to the BCTF tonight.

Baldrey says up until now, most of the conversation at the bargaining table has been about compensation, and not about class size and composition.

If a deal is not reached tonight, talks will continue tomorrow unless one of the parties walks away from the table.


Strike updates – Full Strike apparently starting Tuesday

British Columbia’s teachers intend to launch a full-scale strike beginning next Tuesday, potentially keeping students across the province out of the classroom for the remainder of the school year.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation told its more than 40,000 members in an email Wednesday evening that the union planned to serve 72-hour strike notice.

A day earlier, the union announced teachers had voted overwhelmingly in favour of a full-scale walkout, after several weeks of one-day strikes that rotated between the province’s school districts.

“We believe that at this time, the best way to increase the pressure at the bargaining table is with increased job action,” the union email said.

“Given growing public support, our high strike vote, our determination and resolve, it is time to act.”

The email said bargaining is expected to continue “non-stop” throughout the weekend and it’s possible an agreement could be reached before next Tuesday.

However, the email also advised teachers to retrieve any personal items they might require during the summer before they leave at the end of the week.

“Next steps
The BCTF Executive Committee met today to discuss our next steps. The BCTF bargaining team has reviewed and revised our bargaining package. As we have stated repeatedly bargaining is about compromise, but only if compromise moves us forward. We believe that at this time, the best way to increase the pressure at the bargaining table is with increased job action. Given growing public support, our high strike vote, our determination and resolve, it is time to act.

The Executive Committee has decided that June 16 will be a study session day throughout the province as part of Stage 2 action. The study session will give members the opportunity to review our revised bargaining package. Furthermore, we suggest during the study session that members take the time to do what you are doing so well. Continue to tell your stories about life in classrooms and schools. Send these stories to local and provincial media, write to MLAs and trustees, post on Facebook, and tweet to your followers. Your local will organize the study sessions and your local president will send you information once plans are in place.

We are also serving three working days notice to proceed with full strike action beginning Tuesday, June 17. We believe that the combined actions of bargaining hard and the solidarity of standing together are the key ingredients needed to get a deal that works for teachers and for our students before June 30 and hopefully sooner.

Please know that both parties are currently involved in discussions. Our intention is to bargain non-stop throughout the weekend. We believe that a small, but important window to negotiate a fair deal exists and we want to take every opportunity to get that deal. We will continue to provide members with any new information.

As a precaution, however, and because the situation is so fluid, the Federation recommends you take personal items that you will need during the summer home with you this week.”

“…But if binding arbitration was to be used today, it presumably would include many more cost items, not the least of which would be the thorny and expensive issues of class size and class composition. The fact both parties likely fear that an arbitrator could rule against their self-interest on these issues is another big reason for the lack of enthusiasm for that model.

And frankly, I’m not sure binding arbitration could adequately deal with the class size/composition situation. That’s because it’s a very complex issue, and it’s as much about a philosophical split between the employer and the union as it is about funding.

The BCTF wants fixed rules in place that govern how many special needs students can be in a particular classroom, while the employer argues the system needs flexibility to deal with what can  be  very complex situations (the employer also argues fixed ratios are actually discriminatory against special needs kids).

The union’s position inevitably translates into more classrooms being created, and therefore more teachers being hired (this fits with the BCTF’s constant struggle for control of the classroom). The employer’s position would presumably not create the same number of classrooms.

Each side exaggerates the merits of its own position, and the dire consequences of the other’s. There’s no question the issues involved are vital, but I wonder if most people even know what is meant by “special needs” when it comes to diagnosing children.

Do people know there are actually 12 “categories” of special needs? They include: physically dependent, deaf or blind, moderate to profound intellectual disability, physical disability and chronic health impairment, visual impairment, hard of hearing, autism, severe mental illness, mild intellectual disability, moderate mental illness, learning disability and gifted.

The definitions of what constitutes each category are shaped by diagnostic findings of the American Psychology Association, and those diagnostic tools are used to diagnose students when their parents or their teacher(s) think it’s necessary to do so.

And some of the definitions can change. Take autism, for example. In 2000, about 1,300 kids were diagnosed with autism, and this past year the number was 6,750.

Experts say this phenomenal growth is because much more information has become known about autism, and the diagnostic tools are vastly different now than they were back in 2000.

I’m providing this kind of detail because I think it shows the complexity of the situation may be beyond the skill set of a traditional labor arbitrator. Best to leave the decisions surrounding this issue in the hands of those actually running the system – which means teachers and administrators.

The BCTF has made a compelling argument that more funding is needed to address class composition situations, while the employer has made an equally good case about the need for flexibility in the system. Hopefully the two sides can still achieve some middle ground in the current dispute.”

“…The media and government spokespeople have confused the lockout action with talk about extracurricular activities. The employer is saying that we’re allowed to volunteer, but that is not what the actual lockout order states. And, in order to protect ourselves as individuals and as professionals, we have to follow the lockout order.

It’s horribly confusing. We’re essentially being told “You can’t do that,” then the exact same person is telling the public “Of course they can do it. It’s their choice.” But it’s not. Not unless we want to push the limits of the law.

Now, a lockout is not an uncommon employer reaction to strike action. The idea is that employees aren’t doing their jobs, so a lockout is imposed to make them end strike action by showing how little the employer is bothered by the withdrawal of work. It’s playing hardball.

But the hardball here isn’t actually a ball.

It’s your kids.”

Principal Moves

Superintendent of Schools Brian Pepper is pleased to announce the following administrative appointments, effective August 1, 2014:

Kap Manhas – Vice-Principal, Duchess Park Secondary
Kevin Baldridge – Vice-Principal, Prince George Secondary
Parrish Child – Vice-Principal, Prince George Secondary
Lisa Horswell – Vice-Principal, Centre for Learning Alternatives
Linda McGraw – Principal, Edgewood Elementary
Laurie Bryce – Principal, Foothills Elementary
Tracy Kettles – Vice-Principal, Harwin Elementary
Stever Baker – Vice-Principal, Heritage Elementary
Kirk Czechmeister – Vice-Principal, Lac des Bois
Tom Makowsky – Principal, Nukko Lake Elementary
Tracy Baldridge – Principal, Pinewood Elementary
Rob Larson – Vice-Principal, Quinson Elementary
Liza Arnold – Vice-Principal, Ron Brent Elementary
Shandee Whitehead – Vice-Principal, Van Bien Elementary
Brenda Anderson – Principal, Vanway Elementary

We wish these administrators all the best in their new positions.

We also wish all the best to Steve Wyer in his move to School District No. 6 (Rocky Mountain) and to Rick Urquhart in retirement.

Teachers’ vote may not prompt immediate strike

…McQuarrie is expecting a successful vote, which she said gives union negotiators more leverage. Completely shutting down the workplace, however, she said would be the “last big thing” teachers could do.

Charles Ungerleider, a former B.C. deputy minister of education, said he, too, doesn’t expect an affirmative vote will prompt the union to issue immediate notice.

“The fact that you’re taking a strike vote doesn’t indicate that you’re necessarily going to a strike,” said Ungerleider, a bureaucrat under the New Democrats from 1998 to 2001 and now professor emeritus with the University of British Columbia….

Grade 7 Dance at the Hart Community Centre

Friday, June 13 at 7:00pm
Hart Community Centre
4900 West Austin Rd., Prince George, British Columbia V2K 5Y8

Grade 7 Dance at the Hart Community Centre

A time to celebrate, going from Hart Elementary Schools – Kelly Road Secondary. This is a grade 7 celebration for Heather Park, Hart Highlands, Glenview and Nukko Lake. Please invite or inform any Grade 7′s from these schools.

Tickets will be $20.00

For tickets please contact Tara 250-565-1894 or or Darcie Rae

The tickets will include the Dance, and snacks.

***Parents: There will need to be an adult picking the kids up from the dance**

Snacks, drinks and music.


This is a parent-organized event, not affiliated with the schools in any way.

CUPE reaches tentative settlement with BCPSEA

CUPE reaches tentative provincial agreement for K–12 education support workers

BURNABY – On Saturday, June 7, 2014 the K-12 Presidents’ Council and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) reached a tentative provincial framework agreement.
“We’re pleased to conclude a strong agreement that improves education for students and benefits our 27,000 members,” said K-12 Presidents’ Council Chair, Marcel Marsolais.
The tentative agreement fits within the provincial government’s current mandate. Additional details of the agreement will be released tomorrow morning, after the K–12 Presidents’ Council has reviewed it.
Once the agreement is ratified by K-12 Presidents’ Council members, it will form the basis of local agreements between K-12 local unions and their respective school boards.
“I want to thank the members of our bargaining committee,” said CUPE K-12 Sector Coordinator Rob Hewitt. “We bargained hard to arrive at a settlement that recognizes and respects the work our members do and improves the learning environment for students in B.C. schools.”
CUPE represents more than 27,000 education support workers in 59 locals and 53 school districts throughout B.C. including: education assistants, school secretaries, caretakers, First Nations support workers, IT workers, Strong Start facilitators, trades and maintenance workers, and bus drivers. CUPE members do many different jobs to provide safe, clean, well-run and supportive education for students of all ages.
The current contract would have expired on June 30, 2014. The K-12 Presidents’ council represents K-12 support staff unions, with CUPE being the largest. CUPE members will vote on the provincial agreement as part of their package after local bargaining with their respective school boards is concluded.


More information on settlement: