Monthly Archives: June 2013

Minister’s Letter and Another Vote

Hi Folks,
By now most of you will have observed a wee little missive from our newly appointed Minister of Education.  I believe he e-mailed it to about 35,000 of his close personal teacher friends.  The reality of this letter has very little to do with communication or bargaining, and it has everything to do with good old fashioned union busting.  A number of VINTA members have responded to the minister with polite but clear messages to butt out!  I have included a very creative response from Todd Patrick, a teacher from Maple Ridge.  I believe his responses expresses all of our concerns.  
At the same time as the minister sent out the letter to BCTF members, he also suspended bargaining with the BCTF negotiating team.  He has appointed a new government negotiator, Peter Cameron, who will have the so-called “10 year scheme” as his mandate.  Cameron is set to try and meet with the BCTF leadership.  I belief the Federation just sent out a response to the Minister’s actions and letter.  The BCTF Executive is asking locals to hold local votes between now and Friday to ask the following question;   “Do you support our bargaining team and their efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement, and oppose any government interference into the bargaining process? Yes or No.”
Hmm … not asking too much, especially after we just had a local matters ratification vote. ( I will send out the results in a separate e-mail)  However we are nothing if not adaptable!  And the actions of the minister do require a quick and strong response.  I think the best way to conduct the vote will be staff by staff on Thursday or Friday.  Most staffs will meet at some point during this time.  I will try and contact a staff rep from each school to try and conduct a brief discussion and vote.  There are ballots, however the vote can be conducted in a manner a staff sees fit.  This is very informal and is only meant to send a clear message of support.  
Thanks folks,
Dear Minister,

Below is your letter to all BC teachers.  I have added my comments inside that letter to reflect how I feel about this attack on our collective rights and public education.  This is shameful.


Subject: Greetings from the new Education Minister Peter Fassbender
Reply-To: <>

To British Columbia Teachers

I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself as B.C.’s new Minister of Education.

I would like to introduce myself as a classroom teacher of 23 years.

As a parent and grandparent of children who have thrived in public school, and as a former school trustee, I know we have a great education system filled with talented teachers dedicated to their students. B.C. students consistently score high on international assessments and that is, first and foremost, a clear reflection of the quality of teachers across the province.

You are correct in your assertion that the quality of education in this province is due to the hard work and dedication of teachers.  This is in spite of the attacks on the teaching profession and its collective actions by your government, the right wing media, school boards, and corporations. Your government has no moral authority over public education in a free and democratic society.

While we have a great system, we all share a goal to make it better. I am committed to open communication with students, parents, trustees, and teachers to ensure we are all working together to help our children succeed.

It seems that with your decree from on high that we halt what can only be seen as constructive bargaining, you must understand that you are in direct contradiction with your assertion that you want open communication and want us to work together.  When someone unilaterally stops a mutually agreed upon process that is working and cites “working together” as an argument, it makes most educated people wonder what country we are in.

As part of my mandate, I look forward to pursuing the vision and innovations outlined in the BC Education Plan, expanding access to trades training and the arts, and ensuring seamless transition into apprenticeships for those students who wish to go straight to work after graduation. In particular, I will keep you as informed as possible on another key priority – – pursuing the government’s framework for long-term labour peace with B.C. teachers.

There wouldn’t be a need to look for long term labour peace if your government hadn’t started the ‘war’ in the first place.  Your unconstitutional stripping of our contract, unilateral decision making processes, failure to meaningfully consult with the experts in the classroom, cutting of resources and funding, promotion of corporate interests in a public institution, obvious dislike for unions in general and the BCTF in particular, and your government’s ability to turn a blind eye to any and all criticism of the profession and not stand up for your employees points to legitimate lack of real sincerity when you attempt to sell your vision of peace.

On June 20, I asked BCPSEA and the BCTF to conclude matters currently being negotiated. Government wants to use the time scheduled this week to begin working out with the parties and the BCSTA the process or road map forward. We want to keep moving and that means we need to focus on building a joint road map before bargaining can resume under a new mandate that is consistent with our election commitment.

We already have an agreed to working process and a map forward that we have been working successfully with for months.  I take issue with your statement that you are looking for a joint road map.  What you are really talking about and what is crystal clear is that you want a “my way or the highway” type of road map that is consistent with your commitment to a long term feud with the teachers of this province.

The framework the government released in January includes many ideas that have long been sought by the BCTF, like the full right to strike, more matters being negotiated at local bargaining tables, improvements to the bargaining process, and allowing the BCTF to negotiate directly with government on provincial matters.

At every step of the way, we will work with school trustees, teachers, parents and other partners who care about long-term stability in our schools. We want and need their help in crafting solutions for a long-term agreement. And as we develop solutions, we must remain alive to the challenges of a fragile global economy and the need to balance the budget. An affordable, long-term agreement can help us provide certainty and fairness not only for teachers today, but for future taxpayers as well.

The future tax payers are our students.  They include the ones that come to school hungry, the ones that can’t afford technology, the ones that don’t have a neighbourhood school, and the ones that see a limited future.  What these kids can’t see is that they are in those situations, not because of global economics where you like to lay the blame and scare monger, but with government policies that see taxation and the social contract as some sort of evil.

I want you to feel informed about the process and the details of bargaining. It is important that all interested parties have an opportunity to share the same understanding as we work towards this important settlement. The Ministry of Education’s newsroom is where you can find relevant information and updates on the proposed framework for labour peace with teachers in one easy to find location. You can subscribe to receive Ministry of Education email updates, bookmark the newsroom, or follow @BCGovNews on Twitter for all updates.

The BCTF keeps me informed.  The reason being for this is I am the BCTF.  That is where I lay my trust and not in a website full of rhetoric and empty facts.  You cannot fool 40,000+ well educated people Mr. Fassbender.  Your government is the bully in the school yard and teachers are well versed in seeing the bully for who he is and we will not lie down and roll over.  All you have succeeded in doing with this letter is show us that the leopard does not change it’s spots.  This is shameful.

I love a challenge and I am an optimist. I promise you I will be part of the solution and not an obstacle to getting things done. It is important to remember that despite past labour disputes, the various parties have worked together to build one of the best education systems in the world. I can only imagine what we can achieve together if we work from a position of long-term labour peace.

I too am an optimist.  You can’t work for an employer like your government and still come to work ready to go every day without being an optimist. I am also confident that your promise to be part of the solution is doomed to failure if you continue down this path of ‘Big Daddy Knows Best”.  The ‘best education system in the world’ moniker was built by teachers for students and was done so in spite of government.  It is only through a true partnership with stakeholders and not one based on misdirection, rhetoric, demoralization, finger pointing, privatization, and hidden agendas that we can move forward.  If you also believe this to be true, allow bargaining to continue, provide the needed resources to the students, respect the BCTF as the collective voice of teachers and stop politicking.  Only when you put your ‘guns’ away, will you have labour peace.


Peter Fassbender
Minister of Education



Todd Patrick


Local Ratification Vote Results

Hi again,

Sorry about all the e-mails today.  It is not like you don’t have the end of the year to wrap up.

We did ratify our local matters agreement with the School District.  In fact, it was a unanimous decision.  This will mostly affect our post and fill process.  It will come into effect next school year.  We will meet with the district in the fall to incorporate these changes into the Collective Agreement.  There are a also a few changes from the provincial agreement last year.  Hopefully, the latest version of our Collective Agreement will be available in the fall.

A great big thank you to everyone on our local bargaining team for all of their work on local bargaining this year.  They are: Jackie Poynter, Richard Starr, Robena MacLaren, Robert Fyles, Shawn Gough and Teresa Wadhams!

And, thank you to everyone who was able to come out and vote today.

Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

Local Matters Ratification Vote

Hi Folks,

The local matters ratification vote will be conducted on Tuesday, June 25th.   We will bring the ballot box around to each school.  You will also be able to vote at the VINTA office on:
Monday June 24, from 11:30a.m. – 1:30p.m.

TTOC’s are able to vote at whichever site is most convenient.

An overview of local bargaining can be found on our website at:

The schedule Tuesday June 25th is as follows:

Mark –

  • Woss  –  8:50 – 9:00
  • Cheslakees  recess  –  10:30 – 10:45
  • Port Alice  –  12:00 – 12:30
  • Fort Rupert  – 2:30 – 3:00

Kris –

  • Alert Bay – 9:30 -10:30
  • A.J. Elliott  –  2:30- 3:20

Fred –

  • Sunset – 8:20 9:00
  • NISS    –  8:45 – 9:30
  • Eagle View  –  11:55 – 12:30
  • PHSS    12:45 – 1:30

Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

LIF Allocations

Hi Folks,

Karen Zoffmann and I met with Scott Benwell, Katherine McIntosh and John Martin yesterday to discuss the allocation of the Learning Improvement Fund.

The fund this year is about $232,000.  According to the legislation 12.5% is to be allocated to SEA time.  The remaining approximately 200K is to be assigned to teaching staff.

We started by looking at how the fund was spent last year.  After the discussions last year, the district initially split 2.0FTE among the schools in the district for ‘learning support’ positions.  There was also some money assigned to each school to allow for release time.  Over the course of the year two things became apparent.  There was very little use made of the release money assigned to each school, and the teachers who were filling the LIF positions were in the early stages of their career, and were at the beginning steps of the salary grid.  When we met with the district folks last November we agreed the district would post a further 0.6 FTE.

The fund is meant to be completely spent each year.  If there is money left over it will be deducted from next year’s allocation.  The accounting for this year will be complete by the end of June.  It is possible there could be a small amount of money remaining in the fund.  If this is the case the money will probably be directed to our Pro-D fund to help with next year’s district day.

This year we agreed we would try and direct as much of the money as possible toward teaching positions.  At this point the discussion is focused upon using the money to fund 2.8 FTE positions.  We then tried to assign the money as equitably as possible to schools in the district.

The following is the plan we came up with:

Sunset 0.5
Woss 0.01(used
for release time)
NISS 0.57
PHSS 0.57
District 0.4

The District position will be split along the following  lines –
FRES 0.15;
Seaview 0.1;
other schools 0.15.
It will be a full time position from September through December.
The idea is for discrete blocks of time to be used with each school.

Cheslakees and Eke Me-Xi will receive support through the Sunset and PHSS positions respectively.  There should be 7 postings sent out by Friday.

We will review the LIF fund in November and if it looks like not all of the money will be spent – there could be further postings.  The document we agreed to is on our website at,

If you have any questions please call the office or send an e-mail.



Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

LIF Meeting

Hi Folks,

We will be meeting with the District tomorrow morning to discuss how the Learning Improvement Fund will be allocated next year. It seems likely the fund will generate somewhere around 2.6 FTE.

The Act requires consultation to occur at schools in the district and subsequently between the local president and the superintendent. The positions are to be used in areas that “will require additional resources to address learning improvement issues” It would not be much of a stretch to say this would include the entire system of public education. However, under the circumstances, it is loosely being understood to be in the area of ‘Learning Support’.

The discussion has been along the line of 0.5(ish)FTE for each of the larger schools in the district. (NISS, PHSS, EVES, SSES) , and appprox.0.6FTE split between the smaller schools. This could be an itinerant position that would spend a number of weeks at a time at the smaller schools on a rotating basis. The nature of each position would best be defined through consultation with school staffs

To date, we have not had an overwhelming response to the allocation of the LIF funds.

If there is information you believe will help these discussions with the superintendent could you please send it along.



Local Bargaining and School Visits

Local Bargaining

We concluded our local Bargaining with the School District on Monday. It was an interesting process. There was no realistic dispute resolution process, so, essentially each party had a veto. If one side or the other did not agree to something, they could simply say no and that was it. It meant we usually had to make nice, nice.

We were able to accomplish some of our objectives and others we were not able to achieve. It is the way of many bargaining processes, and it would be unusual to be able to achieve success with all one’s objectives. Under the circumstances, it is note worthy we were able to attain some limited success. A great deal of thanks goes to our bargaining team for their work, their patience and their perseverance. They were: Robert Fyles, Shawn Gough, Robena MacLaren, Jackie Poynter, Richard Starr and Teresa Wadhams.

Currently our plan is to visit with each staff in the district and review all of the items we agreed to with the School District. This will give everyone the opportunity to hear a few more details of the agreement and to ask questions. We hope to visit all staffs in the next two weeks.

We know it is a very busy time of year. However, it is important that everyone has the opportunity hear of the potential changes to our Collective Agreement.

And, as it happens there are some very real unknowns on the provincial scene. The white paper on teacher bargaining (the 10 year agreement jazz) all of a sudden has more significance since the election. The Clark government is seriously talking about the possibility of legislation over the summer. What do we need to prepare?….How do we communicate with everyone over the summer? ….We would do well to put our minds to these and other questions.

If there is a good time to meet with your staff could you please call the office.
I will call around and try and set up times to meet.

The following is a brief review of our local bargaining:

1. School District items

• The district did not bring any large issues to the table. As a result of some of our successful grievances they wanted to update clauses around Maternity leave and the SEP plan. This included how the top up is calculated and the continuation of benefits and experience credit while on leave. We agreed to this.

2. Post and Fill

• We did come to an agreement about some changes to post and fill. We agreed vacancies should be posted and open to anyone to apply. There are a few qualifying details with this as well.

3. Consultation and Collaboration

• There was general agreement about the importance of consultation and collaboration in what we do, especially in the current climate of education. That is where it ended. – The District had no desire to include it in our Collective Agreement.

4. Parental Complaints

• We agreed to a VINTA proposal to try and establish a limited process to try and address parental complaints.

5. Provision of Tech equipment

• It was suggested by theDistrict that provision of tech equipment should be a normal function of the school budgeting process.. This would include supplying teachers with tech equipment needed to perform their jobs. i.e laptop etc.- They believe there is no need to include this in the CA – it SHOULD be happening…….

6. TIC – duties / pay

• The District agreed to address this at a later date through the Mid contract modification process.

7. G.24.4 Leave for Circumstances beyond an Employees Control

• Nope – don’t want to talk about it.

8. TTOC’s – issues

• “A” and “B” lists
– agreement to establish two lists – each is voluntary
• central call
– the district is looking at this but not willing to write it in the CA – infringement on management rights
• Pro-D provision
– No willingness to include TTOC’s in the Pro-D fund

9. Cultural Leave – definition

• We clarified the definition of a cultural leave.

10. Health and Safety

• We agreed to some language about the role of the District Health and Safety Committee.