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Chilliwack parents react to full-scale strike vote

Teachers could be walking out as early as next week.

A strike vote held Monday and Tuesday had 86 per cent of teachers voting in favour of job escalation. According to a Labour Relations Board ruling, the BC Teachers' Federation must give 72-hours notice, three working days, prior to commencing a full-scale strike.

"With this vote, B.C. teachers have sent a very strong message to Christy Clark and her government," said BCTF president Jim Iker. "It's time to negotiate in good faith, put new funding on the table, and reach a fair deal with teachers that also provides better support for students."

Some Chilliwack parents agree.

Standing outside Bernard elementary Wednesday morning, Shilo Orellana, who has a child in kindergarten and another in Grade 1, said she was glued to BCTF's live stream Tuesday evening.

A full-scale walkout wouldn't be easy for Orellana's family. She works minimum wage and would require added childcare. But still, she supports teachers.

"They have a very hard job and I think they're under appreciated," she said.

"It's going to be a tight squeeze for us and I'm not happy about that, but at the same time, I'd have to be dealing with this anyway in a few weeks," with summer break.

Parent Michelle Horsley, who has a child in Grade 1 at Bernard, and another in Grade 11 at Chilliwack secondary, was conflicted with her feelings.

On the one hand, for elementary students, she feels it's better a walkout occurs now, at the end of the school year, than the start when there's more uncertainty with new classes and new teachers. But for her step-daughter at CSS, it's extremely stressful, she said.

"She's very concerned about her exams, what this is going to do to her report card, and how it's going to affect her grade point average," said Horsley, who also supports teachers.

"This has been going on for over a decade. If I were them, I'd be rip-roaring mad too."

Parent Carrie Fisher wants to know, either way, if teachers are going to complete the year or not.

"I hope teachers get what they want; these guys work pretty hard," she said. "But I'd like to know what's happening so I can plan for it."

BCTF has not yet served strike notice. However, Iker said teachers are prepared to fully withdraw services and go on a full-scale strike if necessary.

Of the 33,387 teachers to cast ballots, 28,809 teachers voted yes.

Theprogress.com will be updating information as it comes.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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