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    Prolific Poster ftmom's Avatar
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    Default BC teachers dispute

    VICTORIA - The B.C. Liberal government introduced legislation Tuesday that imposes a six-month cooling off period and suspends teachers? ability to legally strike while a mediator tries to bring the parties toward a negotiated agreement.

    But neither Premier Christy Clark nor Education Minister George Abbott would say when the bill is expected to pass, leaving open the possibility of a three-day legal walkout at B.C. schools starting as early as next Monday or Tuesday.

    Once passed, the Education Improvement Act will make it illegal for teachers not only to walk off the job, but also to continue current job action such as refusing to issue report cards.

    The legislation, which prescribes the appointment of a mediator who will report back by the end of June, also sets out penalties in the event of any illegal job action.

    Each individual teacher who strikes after the bill becomes law could face a penalty of up to $475 per day; the B.C. Teachers? Federation could face a penalty of at least $1.3 million per day if an illegal strike were to occur.

    The bill was introduced Tuesday just over an hour after the B.C. Labour Relations Board ruled that teachers could strike for three consecutive days, as long as they give notice two school days ahead of time.

    After the first week, teachers may strike one day each week without violating a provincial law that designates education as an essential service in B.C.

    Teachers were voting Tuesday, and will continue today, on whether to escalate job action. Notice of a strike tonight or Thursday morning could mean a walkout beginning as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

    BCTF president Susan Lambert described Tuesday?s legislation as a highly political document that will not benefit teachers or their students.

    ?This act is the height of political cynicism. It?s much more of a political act than an education act,? Lambert told a news conference.

    ?It?s just looking towards the next provincial election instead of towards the needs of students in classrooms in B.C.?

    Lambert wouldn?t say whether teachers are likely to strike in protest, noting only that union executives would meet Tuesday night to discuss the bill in detail.

    ?Stay tuned,? was her response when asked if a walkout is likely.

    The last time B.C. teachers walked off the job was in October 2005, when they staged a 10-day illegal strike in response to government imposing a new contract. They were ordered back to work and the union was later fined $500,000 for contempt of court.

    New Democratic Party leader Adrian Dix criticized the government for trying to politicize negotiations and turn them into a ?wedge issue.?

    ?I think what we need from all sides is a return to a culture of respect that?s been missing,? he said.

    ?It?s my expectation that the NDP will be advocating a return to mediation, real mediation and that we?ll be voting against the bill.?

    Abbott said the mediator called for in Tuesday?s legislation will be selected by government and has yet to be chosen. He said that person will be asked to look at issues such as the manner and consequences of class size and composition, the scheduling and selection of teachers and the local-provincial split of bargaining issues.

    Abbott said the mediator will be able to look at wages, but only within the government?s net-zero mandate, where all raises must be funded by savings found inside the existing contract.

    After the mediator reports back by the end of June, the two sides will be given time to reach an agreement before the cooling-off period ends Aug. 31.

    Lambert described the proposal for mediation as a sham because the mediator will be required to consider proposals from the employer that would change teacher assessment, professional development and seniority rights.

    ?It?s very wily in my view. It?s very cunning. It?s not very sincere. They?ve crafted an act that legislates us into a mediated process with a predetermined end, and the predetermined end is further strips to our collective agreement,? she said.

    ?So, they want us to be complicit in the mediation or negotiation of strips. That?s what this act does.?

    Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Clark called the bill an attempt by government ?to find some middle ground.?

    ?I want to try to find some way to give the union a chance to back away from the cliff, to climb down from some of the rhetoric that we?ve seen here,? she said.

    ?I want to give the NDP the same chance to climb down as well on this stuff. I think by trying to give it a little time with the mediator with really strict guidelines and parameters on that around net zero I think we give it a little bit more of a chance to get there.?

    Tuesday?s legislation also implements a long-promised $165-million Learning Improvement Fund to help fund support for special needs students.

    Abbott said $30 million will be allocated to schools in this coming year, $60 million in the following year and $75 million every year thereafter.

    That measure comes in reaction to a ruling last April that found several provisions of government?s previous legislation ? Bill 27 and Bill 28 ? to be unconstitutional.

    ?Money will be allocated to classrooms with the highest need in school districts based on consultations involving BCTF representatives, classroom teachers and district school staff,? said Abbott.

    He added that, beginning in the next round of bargaining, teachers will again be able to negotiate class size, composition and related matters during collective bargaining.

    He said this does not restore past collective agreement provisions on those issues, but instead allows for future discussion.

    ?Future bargaining on these matters would start from a clean slate,? he said.

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business...#ixzz1nkcHXu8Z
    http://www.vancouversun.com/business...183/story.html

    Basically, even though the labor relations board has ruled that it is legal for the teachers to strike (with restrictions), the Government is trying to pass legislation that forces back to work, and to give up even the job action that has been taken so far.

    Should this be allowed? Any thoughts on the whole situation? It is a huge big deal here right now, and everyone is just waiting to see if teachers will be at school on Monday.
    Kyla
    Mom to Arianna (5), Conner (3) and Trent (my baby)

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    Posting Addict fuchsiasky's Avatar
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    I don't feel the government should be legislating this. The teachers have a right to strike and fight for good working conditions and the needs of their students. This isn't just about the pay issues. There is also the issue of no class size limits and no limits on special needs kids in the class rooms. How is that supposed to work? A class of 30+ students with however many special needs kids and one teacher? And our kids are supposed to be getting a good education? Really?

    Let the teachers strike and make their point. Education is worth it. I would rather pay for a pay raise for the teachers and another huge pay hike for the MLA's (again!).
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    Posting Addict fuchsiasky's Avatar
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    I have been very disappointed with the trend to legislate workers back to work. The Harper government has done this with Canada post and now the BC Liberals are following suit. How the hell are workers supposed to fight for their rights if the government is just going to legislate them back? It feels like the government can do whatever they choose without accountability and the rest of us have to just suck it up. They talk about fiscal responsibility and tightening out belts but apparently that is only for the 99% since their pay raises still went through.
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    I actually don't think teachers should be allowed to strike.

    Strikes work in the private sector, where the employer loses money as a result. Basic education should be considered an essential service and negotiations need to be managed without walking off the job. It does nothing for public support unless the public is as upset as the teachers. The teachers union has a pretty poor public image and surprisingly low public support considering the importance of the job they hold. They are a very militant union and are never on good grounds with the gov't. That Ginny Sims, who was in charge a while back came across publicly as a loud harpy... I remember once seeing her talk in a press release, "the government LITERALLY drove a truck through our contract!!!" Really??? Literally?

    Anyways, the govt has clearly said they have a net zero mandate. We all know the govt will legislate in a contract if needed. I agree class size/composition is a huge issue and I think the BCTF would be far, far more successful in both their negotiations and garnering public support if they made that issue alone their platform, setting aside all talk of wage increases for now.

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    I agree with Fuschia that government raises need to stop. The economy is down, no one else is getting a raise, they shouldn't either.

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    Posting Addict fuchsiasky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kris_w View Post
    I actually don't think teachers should be allowed to strike.

    Strikes work in the private sector, where the employer loses money as a result. Basic education should be considered an essential service and negotiations need to be managed without walking off the job. It does nothing for public support unless the public is as upset as the teachers. The teachers union has a pretty poor public image and surprisingly low public support considering the importance of the job they hold. They are a very militant union and are never on good grounds with the gov't. That Ginny Sims, who was in charge a while back came across publicly as a loud harpy... I remember once seeing her talk in a press release, "the government LITERALLY drove a truck through our contract!!!" Really??? Literally?

    Anyways, the govt has clearly said they have a net zero mandate. We all know the govt will legislate in a contract if needed. I agree class size/composition is a huge issue and I think the BCTF would be far, far more successful in both their negotiations and garnering public support if they made that issue alone their platform, setting aside all talk of wage increases for now.

    I agree. The focus on the wages is hurting this issue. The issue of class sizes and resources for students is what I am hearing from the teachers I know. The schools do not have the resources to educate the students well and that is a huge issue for me as a parent. There was a school in Maple Ridge that had toilet paper on the supply list because there wasn't enough funds in the budget! Now that is wrong. We need to fund an education system that will do well for our children. I would much rather fund that than many of the other things that our tax dollars go to (provincially and federally - million dollar man made lake anyone?).
    Me- Fuchsia
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuchsiasky View Post
    I agree. The focus on the wages is hurting this issue. The issue of class sizes and resources for students is what I am hearing from the teachers I know. The schools do not have the resources to educate the students well and that is a huge issue for me as a parent. There was a school in Maple Ridge that had toilet paper on the supply list because there wasn't enough funds in the budget! Now that is wrong. We need to fund an education system that will do well for our children. I would much rather fund that than many of the other things that our tax dollars go to (provincially and federally - million dollar man made lake anyone?).
    Yes, every teacher I know is concerned about class composition. But, there seems to be a disconnect between what they are saying they want and what is going on in negotiations.

    I'm curious as to what sort of process goes on prior to negotiations. I'm in BCNU and we all get surveys months and months before negotiations which base the unions negotiation stance. It seems to serve us well. I wonder if they have the same feedback processes?

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    Prolific Poster ftmom's Avatar
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    I would say that it is more the media that is focusing on the wages than the union. The union went in a 13%, has since dropped that to 6% and has said, at least to teachers, that they would be happy to settle at 3% which is simply a cost of living raise and will not bring us anywhere close to the rest of Canada. And is on par with what other agencies are getting. Some examples are:
    BC Nurses – 3% for 2009, 3% for 2010, 3% for 2011

    Delta Police – 8.75% over 33 months as of April 1, 2010

    Kamloops Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2011, 2% for 2012, 2% for 2013

    Surrey Firefighters – 3% for 2010, 2.5% for 2011

    North Cowichan Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2010, 2.5% for 2011, 2.5% for 2012, 3% for 2013

    Comox District Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2010, 2% for 2011, 3% for 2012, 2% for 2013

    Vancouver Police – 2.95% for 2010, 2.95% for 2011, 1.25% for 2012, 1.3% for 2013

    Quesnel Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 0% for 2010, 1.5% for 2011, 2% for 2012

    Courtenay Municipal Employees (CUPE) – 2% for 2011, 2% for 2012, 2.75% for 2013, 2.25% for 2014

    BC Paramedics – 3% for 2010

    Revelstoke Municipal Employees – 1.25% for 2010, 1.25% for 2011, 1.5% for 2012, 1.5% for 2013

    *source http://bctf.ca/BargainingAndContract...24&libID=25214

    Our biggest issue is the class size/composition clause which was ILLEGALLY taken out of our contract in 2005! This bill eliminates it completely and I think does a huge disservice to students. They are also attempting to make changes to our hiring and firing policies and a number of other things.

    I grieve for our education system.
    Kyla
    Mom to Arianna (5), Conner (3) and Trent (my baby)

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    I dont believe teachers should be able to strike, period. Negotiate all you want but when the teachers strike everybody looses.
    Lisa
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom3girls View Post
    I dont believe teachers should be able to strike, period. Negotiate all you want but when the teachers strike everybody looses.
    I totally agree.

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