Report on BCPSEA Representative Council – Monday, October 3


From the first page:

As you know, BCPSEA held a Representative Council on Monday, October 3 in Vancouver. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an update on the state of negotiations with the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), hear about the effects of the BCTF Phase 1 strike in districts, and discuss how best to move negotiations forward. Trustees expressed their deep concern about the teacher strike, its negative effect on students, parents and administrative staff, and its potential to carry on indefinitely in its current form. In fact, several local teachers’ union presidents have recently been quoted in various media that the Phase 1 teacher strike “could go on forever.”

This was a very valuable meeting for trustees and for your BCPSEA Board. It is important to hear from each other and share our experiences. We heard that the BCTF strike is having different effects in different districts. We also understand the importance of the local relationship between boards and their local teachers’ unions and how that relationship is being challenged through the BCTF strike action.

After a positive and productive discussion, trustees provided overwhelming support to the BCPSEA Board of Directors to make the necessary decisions regarding the nature and timing of employer response, with the intent of placing counter pressure on the BCTF to get serious at the bargaining table. We also recognize that the support was not unanimous and will reflect on all that we heard. The Board will make thoughtful choices in the coming days and are gratified with the support expressed by trustees for the Board and the bargaining team. We will continue to be diligent in our communications with you as events evolve and will ensure that we provide understanding of any decisions made and the underlying rationale.
It was interesting to note the media and BCTF preoccupation, both before and after our Representative Council, with the notion of a lockout. It’s probably not surprising, though, given that the “controversial” tends to attract the most attention. Although lockout as one of the tools available to an employer under the Labour Relations Code was referenced in our technical discussion paper distributed to boards in preparation for the Representative Council, specific options, including lockout, were not a subject of discussion at the meeting.

We will continue our efforts to properly focus the discussion on the real matters at issue. The BCTF has said the strike is designed to have minimal effect on students, and that the strike is relieving teachers of administrative burdens so they can focus on teaching. That position is disingenuous. Many of the withdrawn duties are fundamental to the teacher–parent–student relationship, including teacher meetings with parents, administering and supervising tests, and assessment and report cards. Strikes, by their very nature, are intended to be disruptive; this strike is disruptive.

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