Monthly Archives: April 2014

Supervision / Recess / AGM

Hi Folks,

Well, to absolutely no one’s surprise, Stage 1 of our job action has not brought the government to their knees.

However, the meeting this morning with the Superintendent did bring one little surprise. The district has backed off their position of cancelling recess. It seems there may have been a little hyperbole involved with their call on Thursday afternoon. However, this is not quite universal in its application. Eagle View has fairly high levels of scheduled supervision. We did need to make some concessions with respect to scheduled supervision at Eagle View.
The district will use all available AO’s and excluded staff to cover scheduled supervision in the district. Woss school is the other exception to this understanding. There will be much more information about supervision and the rest of our job action at our Annual General Meeting tomorrow.
So, to be clear, other than a few teachers at Eagle View and Woss, no one should have any scheduled supervision tomorrow. The district is aware of this and they have a plan in place involving all AO’s and excluded staff.

The following is a link to the report from the bargaining table today. As I mentioned, we haven’t quite brought them to their knees yet.

Annual General Meeting

Our Annual General Meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at 5:00 p.m at Eagle View Elementary. Supper will be served at 4:30 p.m.

This is a very important meeting for our union. We will elect next year’s executive and we will set the fee for next year.

As well, it is entirely possible the agenda will include a few little details about job action and the staffing process.

Hope everyone is able to make it.

Good luck folks. See you tomorrow.

Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

Bargaining Update

April 11th, 2014

Hi Folks,

A few people have asked about what is happening at the bargaining table,  all of the referrals to the Labour Relations Board, and whether School Boards will be able to charge us for the cost of benefits.  As I may have mentioned before, the short answer is, ‘Jeez, I don’t know’.

That being said I will attempt my version of an explanation.

I believe all of the recent events ultimately stem from the government’s desire to continue with their strategy of trying to provoke a strike and subsequently bring in legislation.  This is what Justice Grifffin ruled against but the government seems to intent on continuing the strategy.  If you recall during our last job action the government and BCPSEA tried to deduct some part of our salaries when we were in the first phase of job action.  At the time districts did not go for it.  According to Justice Griffin’s ruling the government was hoping to provoke teachers into a full scale strike and then introduce legislation.    

Recently there was a conference call between the government / BCPSEA negotiator (Peter Cameron) and Superintendents and some trustees.  I gather there was more agreement that districts would try and charge teachers for the cost of benefits if we chose to go into stage one and not do supervision. Cameron sent Iker a letter to this effect.  In a bit of an unusual twist Cameron also suggested BCPSEA is not seeking essential service designations  (even though they were the ones who brought in the legislation that brought education under an essential service designation).  

However, the BCTF has gone to the LRB to seek a ruling on the government’s plan saying that during the last round that districts and local unions did agree on levels of service, and the same should apply in this instance – thereby asking the LRB to designate levels of service. 

BCPSEA then submitted their arguments about why they should be permitted to deduct the cost of benefits, and of course, we then made a submission of why BCPSEA is incorrect.  This subsequent submission from the BCTF has some lengthy quotes from the Justice Griffin’s court ruling.  

The LRB then referred the matter to the Minister of Justice requesting her to designate what the levels of essential service. 

Yesterday, the BCTF sent a letter to the LRB chair suggesting that it would be in the public interest if the LRB convened an informal meeting of all parties that could explore issues and processes.   The suggestion is for that meeting to happen early next week.   

And, just this afternoon we see a letter from the Minister of Justice directing the LRB to go ahead and establish levels of essential services at facilities around the province.

I think the line ‘it’s complicated’, comes to mind.

I believe all of the maneuverings through the LRB is an attempt to block BCPSEA from being able to charge for benefits during stage 1 of any potential job action.  

The government originally brought education under the essential service legislation, to which we have always objected.  Oddly enough, we may now be able to use that legislation to block BCPSEA from billing us for the benefit costs.  We will undoubtedly see an LRB ruling next week and we should know more about the government’s attempt to have us pay for all the benefit costs at that time.  

Now, having said all of this the BCTF Executive Committee is currently meeting.  It would be a REALLY, REALLY good idea to go to the bargaining section in the Members’ Portal:

There is a new document titled, ‘Confidential 72 hour strike notice update’. 

If you have any questions please feel free to call or e-mail any time.

Talk to you soon. 



Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association

Update – Staffing and Bargaining

Hi Folks,

Richard and I met with K. McIntosh and J. Martin on Tuesday to hear the School District staffing plans for the 2014-2015 school year.  Our Rep Assembly / Executive reviewed the information at our meeting on Wednesday.

The news is not good, but it is consistent with what has been happening over the past years in our district.  The district believes it continues to face the reality of declining enrolment as well as the gradual elimination of the ‘funding protection’.  The funding protection was a program designed to lessen the financial impact of declining enrolment on some school districts.  I understand the goal was to have district budgets not decrease by more than 1% in any year, despite what may be a relatively larger decline in enrolment.  This protection will gradually be eliminated over the next few years so the district budget is more reflective of actual enrolment.

( As a complete aside and non sequitur, this raises the broader topic of how per capita funding for school districts may work somewhat favorably for large urban districts, but not necessarily so well for geographically dispersed rural districts.  But, that is a discussion for another time.  Perhaps the next election!)

So, the district believes the following:

•            student enrolment will decline by                         41.31 FTE.

•            projected teacher lay-off                                      3.78
(this includes two positions at the school board office announced at the last Board meeting.  I mentioned these two cuts in a previous post.)

At this point two other teachers will receive a lay-off notice in mid May.  This could change depending on the disposition of possible retirements and the continuation of some leaves.

At this point the district has also established an initial list of vacancies they believe will need to be filled during the staffing process.  This list will change considerably between now and the end of the staffing process.

What is not included in this list are the Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) positions.  Last year there were about 2.8 FTE positions created through the application of the LIF.   The money is to be used over and above ‘regular’ staffing.  The fund was established in Bill 22.  (Yup, that would be the same Bill 22 that Judge Griffin found to have violated our charter rights)  However, as far as anyone understands at this time the LIF continues to exist and is scheduled to double for the 2014-15 school year. This could result in an additional 6.0 FTE teaching positions in our district.   The other uncertainty with the LIF is how provincial negotiations might or might not impact the fund.

It should also be noted that this is the first year we will be employing the new post and fill process we changed through local bargaining.  The most significant change comes in the actual post and fill process.  All established vacancies will be open to everyone in the district, including those on the recall list, and filled according to seniority and qualifications.   All other provisions of the lay-off / recall process remain unchanged.  That is, anyone who has been laid off will be able to bump, access severance or an opportunity to retrain. 

We have posted the district 2014-15 staffing allocations on our website.  This is the link:

Please bear in mind the document is still a draft document and is what the district uses for planning.  The percentage allocated in a particular area does not necessarily mean that is what is reflected in school staff assignments.  They are the allocations for each school.


So, after the news of staffing cuts, one might hope we could proceed to something a wee bit more positive.    Well, one might hope but in this case one might be severely disappointed. 

The latest reports from the table are at the following link:

 The latest information from Peter Cameron, government negotiator, is to say if we begin stage 1 of our job action, then BCPSEA will bill teachers for the cost of benefits.  His letter is posted on our website as well.  Our response is to go to the LRB for a ruling on this.  It will likely be heard next week.

Between Fassbender’s latest missives, the complete lack of any progress at the bargaining table, and the move to try and have us pay for benefits, it seems fairly clear the government does not seem especially interested in achieving an agreement with teachers… 

The BCTF AGM in March gave the responsibility for the timing of any job action to the BCTF Executive.  Any decision will depend on what happens at the bargaining table.    And, so it goes…..

And this, just in, (from Jack McDermot of the BCTF)

Thought you might appreciate this funny ad about Anti-Unionol, a revolutionary new anti-worker suppository. 


Fred Robertson

Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association