BCSPEA paper on job action options

The BC Public School Teacher’s Association has created a report titled “Bargaining, Options, and
Moving Forward”. From the report:

Executive Summary
Bargaining in the K-12 public education sector is never a stand alone exercise. Collective
bargaining in our sector has yielded mixed results in terms of the bargaining process.
There has been a variety of circumstances that have influenced bargaining outcomes.
This round of bargaining is particularly unique in that it has occurred and is affected by
several converging events:

Agreement expires (June 30); initial meetings (March); bargaining process issue, the
provincial–local split of issues; BC Supreme Court ruling (April 13) and a
government–BCTF consultation/reconciliation timeline (referred to as the Bill 28
matter); themes and objectives (May 24) to the first set of proposals (May 31); early
talk of a strike (April-May); 90% strike vote (June 24-28); essential service
designation for Phase 1 of the BCTF multi-phase strike plan (July 26, August 5);
strike notice (August 31) Labour Relations Board; the provincial–local split of issues
and the three decisions of Arbitrator Jackson (August 28, September 2, September
17); BCTF withdraws from the Bill 28 discussions (September 13).

Regardless of the bargaining environment and the converging events identified above,
the goal must always remain a negotiated collective agreement. The purpose of this
paper is to identify processes that, when actioned, can create the necessary reason for
movement on the parties’ respective bargaining agendas.


PGDTA and teachers in the classroom

Matt Pearce, from the Prince George District Teachers’ Association (PGDTA), stated that if there are any parents who are having difficulty contacting their children’s teacher or teachers to discuss how their child is doing, to please contact the PGDTA. Teachers are being encouraged to communicate with parents, even during the job action.


Matt Pearce – mpearce@sd57.bc.ca
Tina Cousins – tcousins@sd57.bc.ca

Terry Fox run & teachers

According to Tuesday’s PG Citizen:

…Prince George and District Teachers Association president Matt Pearce said Thursday that [ongoing job action] won’t stop teachers from helping to organize the runs.

“We don’t have any intention of [impacting] extracurricular activities like the Terry Fox Run,” Pearce said.

Pearce said the only type of fundraising teachers won’t participate in is efforts to specifically raise money for schools.

“A lot of the fundraising that teachers have taken on is to support a system that’s no longer funded to meet those needs anymore,” he said. “For outside things like raising money for charities and food banks and things like that, those activities are going to continue.”


Read more in the Citizen:


Superintendent’s Speaking Notes from September DPAC Meeting

September 12, 2011

District Parent Advisory Council

Superintendent’s Speaking Notes


  1. Welcome and Thank You

We really appreciate your interest, donation of time and expertise in the service of students and school.  You are a valued partner!


  1. Strike or “Job Action”

I have attached the British Columbia Labour Relations Board decision of July 26, 2011.  It is the most complete summary of the situation and guides action of both parties.


As a district: “We respect the right of the union to engage in labour relations activities.  We expect the union will respect our responsibility for student learning and safety and our right to run the organization.”


We have a well defined concern/dispute resolution process and the union president and superintendent have established a direct communication protocol.


  1. School Organization

Population estimate for the district is 12 800 students (7 200 elem + 5 600 sec).


School start-up has gone very well.  It is usual to see some enrolment fluctuations in individual schools and as a result, class re-organization.


This is also the time of year where we are heavily involved in monitoring class size and composition.


K 1-3 4-7 8-12
Class Size Max. 22 24 30 30
District Class Size Avg. 19 21 28 30


There are many secondary school challenges at this time of year as a result of new registrations and transfers: ie. Course schedule building and student support programming.

  1. District Website

Our website will be updated later this fall.  Improved communication is our goal!

Back to School information regarding strike action, healthy relations, safety, bus safety and nutrition is available on the front page of the district site as well as on each school website.

Superintendent’s blog coming soon!

  1. Government Education Direction

Five areas of focus:

Teacher Excellence

New Teacher Regulation.

New Collective Agreement

Flexibility and Choice


Class composition and allocation of resources.

Learning:  Curriculum and Assessment

More flexible reporting.

Building competences into curriculum.

New performance standards.

New approach to assessment.

Learning:  Technology

Anywhere, anytime access for teachers.

Infrastructure expansion.

Economies of scale.

Accountability and Open Government

New approach to access to data.

New accountability framework.

Greater transparency on our part – post meetings, minutes, and track to enhance awareness for all partners.

** many actions begin immediately – part of a three year programme

** optional provincial exams – now eliminated


The challenge for education today is to educate many more students to much higher levels of accomplishment, in a broad variety of areas, than ever before.                         (Ben Levin, 2011)







Information from Prince George District Teachers Association for PACs

“Teachers have decided to take job action in an attempt to reach a new collective agreement and have illegally stripped resources returned to our schools. We have deliberately chosen to structure our job action to have maximum impact on our employer while having minimum impact on students and parents.

We realize it is not possible to take even a limited job action without having some effect on our students but it is our hope that parents understand why we have taken this particular form of job action. We know that the illegal actions of the government has impacted students and parents as well as teachers and we don’t wish to add to the damage. At this time we have chosen to drop non-essential administrative tasks that take away our focus on teaching and learning.

It is understandable that parents who are active in their schools are unsure of what activities might be perceived as crossing our virtual picket line. The simplest advice I can offer to parents is that if you engaged in the activity last year please stay involved. If the activity is something that teachers have dropped as a result of job action we would ask that parents not attempt to fill that void.

I would add that teachers are looking forward to having conversations with parents about how their child is progressing and we ask that parents touch base with teachers early and often so that all of us, teachers, parents and students can work together for a successful year.”

Matt Pearce, Chair, PGDTA

Two week strike OK?

A Labour Relations Board mediator’s advice has stated that: “Given that the current dispute is at the beginning of the school year, and given that the parties experienced a two-week withdrawal of services in October of 2005 without any evidence of ‘serious and immediate disruption to the provision of education programs,’ I conclude that teachers can withdraw from the classroom for at least two weeks without any services designated as essential”.

Brown’s recommendations are not a formal decision, but are intended as “guidance” to the parties and any adjudicator who may be assigned to the current case, who could choose to adopt Brown’s decision in whole, in part or not at all, should the job action escalate.

No actual strike is currently planned, but these recommendations will be taken into consideration as the job action progresses.

For more information:


B.C. students could be forced out of their classrooms for two weeks or longer if the teachers’ labour dispute escalates and a Labour Relations Board mediator’s advice is followed.

“Given that the current dispute is at the beginning of the school year, and given that the parties experienced a two-week withdrawal of services in October of 2005 without any evidence of ‘serious and immediate disruption to the provision of education programs,’ I conclude that teachers can withdraw from the classroom for at least two weeks without any services designated as essential,” mediator Mark Brown wrote in his recommendations.

Brown’s recommendations are not a formal decision, but are intended as “guidance” to the parties and any adjudicator who may be assigned to the current case, who could choose to adopt Brown’s decision in whole, in part or not at all, should the job action escalate.

“Should we — and I hope we don’t need to — escalate, then we will have to return to the labour relations board and get an adjudication on how much we can escalate, or cannot,” British Columbia Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert said, adding that teachers do not have a time frame for escalation.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/week+teachers+strike+would+disrupt+students+says+mediator/5379800/story.html#ixzz1XgJPP0uC

Newspaper editorial

According to the Prince George Citizen’s editorial on Friday, September 9th:

Prince George’s district is one of only four in the province whose union staff is taking action by refusing to perform administrative duties – which could lead to missing report cards if left too long – as well as refusing to supervise students during recess.


This is not fully accurate information. The teacher’s union is taking action across the province, not just in four districts. In six districts (at last notice) the school districts have cancelled recess, as a reaction to the job action, due to difficulty in replacing teacher supervision at recess time.

For more information about recess, please see:

There are additional resources about the teacher job action posted on this website.

Two Views on Teacher Job Action

From Janet Steffenhagen’s Vancouver Sun Report Card Blog:

Job action always tends to make people worry. I know many parents in Vancouver and across B.C. are concerned about what it will mean for them and their children.

“The good news is that initially it may not mean very much at all. Schools will stay open and at this point there will not be picket lines. In fact, some BCTF representatives say the “teachonly campaign” will enable teachers to focus more attention on students by freeing them from other administrative roles and from their daily interactions with school administrators and district managers.

“However, while teaching will continue, parents can anticipate less communication as some teachers may choose not to participate in “meet the teacher” evenings and choose not to prepare report cards. Other teachers may refuse to collect money for fees and fundraising. Fortunately, at this stage, it looks likely that many extracurricular activities will continue if teachers choose to participate in them.”

Read more:


Teachers file strike notice


Press release from BCTF:

As the new school year begins, BC teachers are disappointed that the employer has not returned to the bargaining table with a mandate to invest in public education through enhanced funding for services to students and a fair increase to wages and benefits for teachers.

Despite an April 2011 Supreme Court decision that ruled BC Liberal laws stripping class-size and composition clauses to be unconstitutional, the provincial government has done nothing to rectify the situation. By removing class-size limits and guarantees of services to students with special needs, the contract-stripping legislation enabled the government to cut vast sums each year from the education budget: an annual amount equivalent to $336 million in 2011 dollars.

“These funds have been illegally taken away from students, from teachers, and from the public education system,” said Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation. “Teachers are determined in this round of bargaining to regain these lost services, jobs, and resources to meet students’ needs.”

Although negotiations began in March and the collective agreement expired in June, to date there has been absolutely no progress in bargaining. “Government continues to come empty-handed to the table, persisting with their sub-zero mandate. Government spending decisions are a question of priorities, and we believe children should be the number one priority.”

In order to increase pressure on the employer, the BCTF will file strike notice today to take effect at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, September 6, 2011. Phase 1 of job action means that teachers will not be performing administrative tasks such as filling out forms, collecting data, meeting with principals or other administrators, supervising on  playgrounds, or writing report cards. 

“Teachers’ attention will be totally focused on the students in their classrooms, and not on the many bureaucratic and administrative tasks that take away from the joy of teaching and learning,” Lambert said, adding that teachers will be in close communication with parents if the need arises.

Lambert called on Education Minister George Abbott and Premier Christy Clark to send their negotiators back to the bargaining table with a new mandate to achieve a negotiated settlement that will meet the needs of students and teachers alike.

She noted that BC teachers’ salaries have fallen far behind those of colleagues in other provinces, and benefits have not been improved in more than 15 years. Funding cuts also mean scarce classroom supplies, including basics such as photocopy paper and textbooks.

“If the Premier is serious about her ‘Families First’ agenda, she cannot say there is no money for public education. It’s the single most important service to the health and well-being of the province’s children,” Lambert said.

Education Minister Abbott rules out prolonged teachers’ strike

B.C. students returning to school next month will likely face a reduction of services but a prolonged teachers’ strike isn’t something the government will let stand for long, said Education Minister George Abbott.

Abbott told reporters Tuesday he’s not optimistic that a contract agreement between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association will be reached before start of the school year, resulting in limited job action by the teachers.