The year continues and some days it seems, ‘Geez, is it Thanksgiving already?!”, and other days it is something like, “Geez, it’s only mid October!!” And so it goes….
TTOC Orientation/ BCTF Induction
We tried something a bit different this year. We have traditionally had a new teacher orientation to welcome new teachers to the profession and to the Federation. This year the district decided to try and run a brief orientation for new TTOC’s. In discussion with the district, we decided we would try and combine this orientation with our new teacher Induction and have dinner at the Black Bear Resort in Port McNeill. We held the Orientation/ Induction on Tuesday evening. Many of the new TTOC’s in the district and a number of new teachers were able to attend the event. As well, the VINTA executive also attended. It was a successful occasion. We hope to be able to do it again, perhaps with more of a focus on the informal meet and greet part of the evening.
TTOC’s –secondary callout
Richard Starr and I met with John Martin and Katherine McIntosh last week. The topic was TTOC callout and how it could be affected by the change in the PHSS and NISS bell schedules. The issue arose from the creation of the afternoon ‘super block’. During the semester where a teacher has their prep block, there will be one afternoon each week when they will not enroll a class.
Early in September a secondary teacher was away for an entire day on a medical leave. The afternoon was their prep block. The TTOC was called for only 60% and did not receive the scheduled prep. This is quite contrary to our
Collective Agreement Article D.4, that states the TTOC is entitled to any prep time of the teacher being replaced. The situation was brought to our attention. The other article that affects this situation is C.24.3.a. It states if an employee is absent, the Board will employ a TTOC, except in exceptional circumstances when one is not needed.
There was a very brief attempt to say the afternoon prep block was an exceptional circumstance. We were quite clear, prep time is not an exceptional circumstance.
We did come to an understanding without much dispute. The understanding does not actually change anything. It simply respects the Collective Agreement and clarifies the existing situation. When a TTOC is called they are entitled to a teacher’s regularly scheduled prep. A TTOC will be called even if it is for the afternoon of an assigned prep block. . In the unlikely event there is no assigned work for the TTOC, it is understood they will report to the Administrative Officer who would assign other work in the school.
This situation is only partly about ensuring the observance of our Collective Agreement. Of equal or greater significance is the whole issue of TTOC employment. TTOC’s are the least paid teachers in the system. Their work is clearly not guaranteed from one day to the next. We need to make sure a TTOC is called whenever we may be away! This is as true for non-enrolling teachers as it is for classroom teachers. Our Collective Agreement clearly states a TTOC should be called for the absence of any teacher. We need to ensure this is carried out. If it would be difficult to assign some of your work to a TTOC, then there are undoubtedly other tasks in the school the TTOC could do.
CUPE settlement – CUPE cuts
Earlier in September we were all waiting to see the outcome of CUPE negotiations. It seemed there was a good chance of job action. This was averted at the last minute and CUPE settled, for among other things, a 3 1/2 per cent wage increase. The government, in its infinite wisdom, downloaded the cost of the CUPE pay rise to existing school district budgets.
It has become increasingly evident the savings needed for the settlement are coming from cuts to CUPE positions in the district – primarily custodial hours. Most schools have seen a cut to custodial hours. So, on the one hand there is a CUPE pay increase and on the other hand hours are being cut. Hmmmmm….??? As we are all too familiar custodians are being asked to do more with less. It is not sustainable.
I am in the process of putting together a chart detailing the CUPE cuts in the district and the impact it is having in each school. I will try and circulate the chart later this month. If you have some information with respect to CUPE cuts could you please send it along. It would be especially good to hear how the cuts are affecting each school and classroom.
Once a chart outlining the cuts is assembled it would be good information to share with parents and PAC’s.
And I bet everyone was getting quite comfortable not hearing about teacher bargaining. Well we’re back at it. Bargaining with the government is set to resume on October 16. There are two other half days scheduled after that.
Much has changed since last spring. BCPSEA has almost ceased to exist. The entire government bargaining team has changed and their bargaining mandate has also changed. (think ten year deal – but not for too long). This type of change part way through a Collective Bargaining process is highly irregular. Imagine if teachers were to say, part way through a bargaining round, “ Oh we’ve changed our minds, this is what we want to bargain for now” It would be as unacceptable as what the government is currently doing.
The main reason for the late start to bargaining this fall was to wait for the conclusion to our court case. The government was found to have contravened our charter rights when they stripped our Collective Agreements in 2002. The court ruling gave them a year to make remedies. Bill 22 and LIF were the government’s attempt at this. It was clear in the court decision the government redirected over $3 billion away from education since they stripped our contracts. We maintain that Bill 22 and $65 million a year for three years does not come close to a reasonable remedy. The case has now concluded and we can expect to hear a ruling in the next weeks or months. Whatever happens, the decision will likely be appealed – unless we are able to address the ruling through our bargaining.
By far the most interesting aspect to the recent hearing has been the witnesses called to give evidence. A number of former government employees, who were deeply involved in teacher bargaining, gave very interesting testimony. A very clear picture of the government strategy during the last round of bargaining emerged through their testimony. The government was intent on provoking teachers into striking. They had legislation drafted, which would force us back to work and making further cuts to our Collective Agreements. It was just waiting to be implemented. We were able to avoid this, but it gives us a good idea of what we can expect to hear this time. Remember all of those media bits about the ‘rich’ public sector pensions and sick leave provisions?? Now, guess what we will hear from this government.
Violence in the Workplace
Unfortunately, this is a very real concern in our district. It is always important to record and report each and every violent incident. According to Worksafe BC regulations this report should trigger an investigation and a subsequent safety plan. The Health and Safety Committee should be involved with this process.
This is a link to a very interesting articled published by Worksafe B.C:
“ Communicate Student Information: Prevent Violence-Related Injuries to workers in the Education Sector”
Apparently Worksafe B.C. sees violence in the workplace in schools as an issue.
Sorry about the lengthy diatribe. You get bonus points if you actually made it through most of it.
Have a peaceful weekend. I know I have much to be thankful for.
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association