Monthly Archives: March 2014

Update – Cuts

March 19, 2014


Hi Folks,

I hope everyone is enjoying a happy and peaceful break. 

Strike Vote and AGM

Our strike vote was a strong 89% .   When and if 72 hours strike notice is served will depend entirely on what progress, or lack of progress, is made at the provincial bargaining table.  One would hope that the recent court ruling and a strong strike vote would put some pressure on those negotiations.    We will see what happens over the next few weeks at the table.  The link to the reports from the table is:

Kevin, Shawn and I attended the BCTF Annual General Meeting in Vancouver from March 15 – 18.  As one might imagine, bargaining was a large topic of discussion.  There has been minimal movement at the table and the employer continues to ask for significant concessions.   Their salary offer includes a whole bunch of zeros.  There are bargaining dates planned for early April. Much will depend on what happens during those negotiations.

SD 85 budget cuts

This falls under the category of don’t shoot the messenger

During the years of declining enrolment in SD 85, the district has received ‘funding protection’ from the ministry.  This ‘protection’ ensures there is not more than a 1 or 2 % decrease in the annual funding despite what could be a relatively larger decline in enrolment.  This funding protection will be gradually withdrawn over the next few years until  the district’s funding is more reflective of actual enrolment.

The district believes it will need to institute more cuts over the next two years so the final withdrawal of funding protection will not be too dramatic.

To this end, at the School Board meeting last week, the Secretary Treasurer introduced the district’s plan to save just over $300,000 a year over the next two years.  The proposal outlines cuts for the 2014-15 and the subsequent cuts for 2015-16.  The proposal also outlines the principles under which the cuts will occur.

The full text of the plan is posted on the VINTA website:

One of the main principles of the cuts is to attempt to preserve class size and where possible to implement cuts through attrition. 

The main cuts in the 2014-15 are the elimination of the resource centre and cutting the District Low Incidence / Behaviour Support position and the Literacy / Early Learning position.

The following year 2015-16, a District Principal position will be cut as well as reductions in Administration time and Non-Enrolling teacher time.

There are a number of other smaller cuts that are not clearly defined.   When asked about those smaller cuts the Secretary Treasurer was unwilling to be more specific as they might affect employees who had not been notified of an impending cut.  These cuts did not seem directed at teaching staff.

I expressed a very clear concern about these cuts to the Board.  However, unless there is a change in the level of government funding it is very likely the Board will proceed with the cuts.

The Court of Appeal decision with respect to Justice Griffin’s recent ruling could have some impact on these planned cuts.  However, the Court of Appeal will not hear the case until October – with a decision at some point after that.  It will likely be too late to affect the 2014-15 funding.

So, I do apologize about being the bearer of bad news during spring break, but it is probably better to hear sooner rather than later.

Hope the rest of the break goes well.


Student Submissions: Imagine A World Without Violence Deadline: April 30, 2014

Wanted! Student Submissions to imagine a world without violence


Deadline for submissions is April 30, 2014

Brief Update

Hi Folks,

The voting continues to go well. We will complete the voting Thursday afternoon March 6th. The Federation will release the results as soon as all locals have reported. I will e-mail the results as soon as I receive them. Jim Iker will announce the results Thursday night. It will be live streamed at some time around 9p.m. This is the live stream link:

Folks are beginning to sign onto the on-line Harassment training. It seems to be taking longer than the 20-30 minute suggestion. The district did commit to providing release time to complete the training. Either an administrator could cover your class or a TOC can be called to a school. Despite some indications to the contrary, the release time is there if you want it.

Interesting letter from the former Chair of BCPSEA, Mel Joy. She was at the bargaining table all the way through the last round of bargaining.

This was the round that Justice Griffin found the Liberal government tried to provoke the BCTF to strike so the Liberals would have the right ‘conditions’ to introduce legislation to further strip our contracts. Minister Fassbender was quite quick to speak out and say, “nope, not us, we were always working for a settlement”.

Mel Joy, who was at that table with the BCPSEA team disagrees. Here is her letter to the local Creston paper.

B.C. education minister misses facts when speaking of collective agreement, says Creston SD8 trustee
Creston Valley Advance
Tue Mar 4 2014
Page: F
Section: Opinion

To the Editor:
As chair of the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) from 2011-2013, I was closely involved in the collective agreement negotiated between the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and BCPSEA in June 2012.
I appreciate current Minister of Education Peter Fassbender was not involved in 2012, but his recent assertions that government was fully committed to, and even responsible for, the success of the negotiations are inconsistent with my experience.
By my firsthand recollection, government tactics concerning the Bill 28 reconciliation sessions, and collective bargaining between the BCTF and BCPSEA, were accurately described in Justice Griffin’s BC Supreme Court ruling when she concluded, “Government thought that a teachers strike would give the government a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support.”
This strategy was pursued, in part, by the restrictive bargaining mandate set by government in addition to the net-zero monetary directive. No other part of the public sector was asked to seek so many concessions from a union with no increase in compensation.
Despite these collective bargaining limitations, the negotiating teams and mediator Dr. Charles Jago worked tirelessly to conclude an agreement. Although the negotiated agreement met the monetary mandate, government representatives informed us of their dissatisfaction with the agreement, including the lost opportunity, now identified in the recent judgment, to “impose concessions which advance education initiatives” through legislation triggered by the failure of collective bargaining.
Yet recent statements made by Minister Fassbender seem to revise the events of 2012. It is concerning to hear the minister emphatically state that government’s goal was to reach a negotiated settlement, when that claim is so inconsistent with what actually transpired and now forms part of the Griffin decision.
Despite how pleased the minister now claims to be with the negotiated agreement, the facts that this government 1) moved swiftly after the election to replace elected school trustees on the BCPSEA board with its own public administrator, 2) appoint a government negotiator in the midstream of current BCTF bargaining, and 3) replace the senior staff at BCPSEA, tell a very different story.
With Tuesday’s call by the BCTF for a strike vote, current bargaining seems to be drifting. A significant difference in this round is that government now owns it all: the funder, the policy maker and now the bargainer. Will it retreat to a legislative fix or a legitimately bargained one?
One hopes that the decision will provide some direction to government notwithstanding its decision to appeal. The appeal won’t change the facts. In the future, it might be wise to follow Griffin’s reflection that perhaps, “This affirms the wisdom of the Korbin labour relations model: government is removed from the direct bargaining relationship with public sector employees and bargaining takes place with the employer association, which has a more direct interest in reaching agreement.”
Sincere reflection would provide the opportunity for all to learn and grow to make public education better. What is past is past and it is time to focus on the future. The students in our great public education system deserve our best efforts.
Melanie Joy , Trustee
School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake)



Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association