Facing Unreasonable Government Demands, Teachers Call Strike Vote

Hi Folks,

BCTF President, Jim Iker announced at a news conference this morning that, in response to the Clark government’s unfair and unreasonable demands at the bargaining table, teachers will be conducting a strike vote on March 4th, 5th, and 6th.

Jim’s news conference is quite informative and he very carefully goes through the history that has brought us to where we are today. This is the link to see the news conference: http://new.livestream.com/BCTF/Feb252014

To be quite blunt we are tired of being treated as second-class citizens. We are tired of this government saying one thing and then doing the exact opposite. We are tired of the distain this government shows toward students and teachers alike. And, we are tired of this government breaking the law!

I am forwarding the e-mail from the Federation announcing the strike vote and explaining why we believe we have no other choice. There is a good chance most you will receive the e-mail from the Federation more than once, for which I do apologize.

Everyone will have the opportunity to vote at their own school. We will organize and distribute a schedule by the end of the week. TTOC’s and teachers on leave are able to vote at any of the school-based polls that might be convenient. We will also have a ballot box available at the VINTA office. The schedule will be ready by the end of the week.

As we discussed at the general meeting with Glen Hansman and at school visits, a successful strike vote gives us the authority to engage in legal job action. We have 90 days from the time of the vote. The plan is for a staged approach to any action.

I am always available to come and speak with school staffs. Please feel free to call at any time.

More information to follow,


Begin forwarded message:

From: BC Teachers’ Federation <mailout@communications.bctf.ca>
Date: February 25, 2014 3:04:51 PM PST
To: BCTF Presidents <bctf-pres@list.bctf.ca>
Subject: Facing unreasonable government demands, teachers call strike vote

February 25, 2014

Facing unreasonable government demands, teachers call strike vote

After a full year of bargaining and more than 40 sessions at the table, BCTF President Jim Iker and the BCTF Executive Committee have called for a strike vote to push back against major concession demands, an unfair salary offer, and a deliberately confrontational attempt to reverse teachers’ recent Supreme Court win on class size, composition, and staffing levels.

“Teachers care deeply about our schools, our students, and our communities. We don’t take a strike vote lightly,” Iker told a packed house of reporters at a news conference this morning. “But Christy Clark, her government, and BCPSEA are insisting on rollbacks, freezing wages, and ignoring the Supreme Court of British Columbia.”

To watch the news conference, go to: http://new.livestream.com/BCTF/Feb252014.

Iker said he was incredibly disappointed and frustrated as teachers have worked hard this round to create a sense of calm and purpose at the bargaining table. While the last round was dominated by government acting in bad faith, this time teachers were hopeful that new players and a new framework agreement would help both parties reach a fair and reasonable deal.

Since January 27, when the BC Supreme Court released its ruling that the Christy Clark government had acted in bad faith, the BC Public School Employers’ Association has tabled unreasonable proposals:

· New language that would yet again strip all provisions on class size, class composition, and staffing levels for teacher-librarians, counsellors, special education, and other specialist teachers.

· A salary offer that starts with a 0.5% increase on the date of ratification. The increase is not retroactive. Because the previous contract expired last June, this means zero for all of the 2013–14 school year to date. That is followed by another zero for 2014–15 school year and then various ones and point fives over the next four years. The last four years of the 10-year term, an idea teachers rejected in June by a province-wide vote of 96%, features an ill-defined indexing scheme that even BCPSEA’s negotiators could not explain.

“This government, through BCPSEA, is trying to pretend Justice Griffin’s ruling never happened,” Iker said. “Their proposal would ‘supersede and replace all previous articles that addressed class size, composition, and staffing levels.’ For 12 years teachers have worked to defend our rights, our working conditions, and our students’ learning conditions, and once again we find ourselves facing a government focused only on confrontation.”

On the salary front, BCPSEA’s offer means BC teachers are being asked to take up to two more years of zeros after no salary increases in 2011–12 and 2012–13.

“Despite most other public sector workers receiving increases in the range of 3.5 to 4% over two years as part of the co-operative gains mandate, the government has directed BCPSEA to pursue a totally different agenda with teachers,” said Iker. “Trying to force wage freezes on teachers for another two years is not reasonable or fair, given what the government negotiated with other workers in the public sector. Teachers are asking for an increase that addresses the rising cost of living and a market adjustment that reflects how far we are behind other teachers in Canada. We believe that’s fair and reasonable.

“BC teachers cannot sit back and let Christy Clark and her government talk about labour peace in public, while trying once again to provoke teachers behind closed doors. We will do everything we can to secure a fair deal for teachers and better support for our students.”

Strike vote information
On the call for a strike vote, Jim Iker said: “For teachers, our only recourse in response to the unfair, unreasonable, and deliberately confrontational proposals at this point is to apply pressure through a strike vote. Such a vote, however, does not mean imminent school closures. We will consider all job action options and timing very carefully. Our goal is to reach a negotiated deal at the bargaining table without having to resort to job action.”

Once a strike vote is taken, a union has 90 days to activate it with some sort of job action.

The BCTF strike vote will take place on March 4, 5, and 6, 2014. Results will be announced on the evening of March 6. Job action, if needed, will occur in stages, but any initial action will:

· not include immediate school closures or disruption for students.
· not stop teachers from participating in extracurricular activities.
· not affect report cards or communication with parents.

Any job action will depend on progress at the negotiating table.

Useful information to share with parents and the public can be found here: www.aFairDeal.ca.

As well, the brochure “A Fair Deal for Teachers, Better Support for Kids” highlights the facts behind teachers’ bargaining objectives. Look for copies in print through your local office or online here: http://issuu.com/teachernewsmag/docs/fairdealforteachers.

Please ensure that you keep informed about the arrangements for voting in your local. It’s crucial for all members to take part in this important vote. Together, we will achieve a fair deal that meets the needs of teachers and students in our province.

Keeping informed, and accessing the member portal
We will be posting bargaining and strike vote updates regularly through the member portal. Your BCTF member ID number is your login username. If you need help registering for the first time or logging in, please refer to our portal help guide, http://www.bctf.ca/portalhelp.aspx.

If you need further help, email portal@bctf.ca or call 604-871-2119 or toll-free 1-800-663-9163 (local 2119).


Fred Robertson
Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association