BC teachers ratify bargaining framework with employer

BCTF and BCPSEA ratified framework agreement on 2013 bargaining schedule, days after government proposed its own 10-year contract.

The BC Teachers’ Federation has ratified a framework agreement with the BC Public School Employers’ Association on this year’s schedule of collective bargaining. This came just days after the government proposed its own bargaining framework, which would lock B.C. teachers into a 10-year collective agreement.

The ratified agreement does not tie teachers into 10 years, instead only structuring the bargaining timetable ahead of the May 2013 provincial election.

“It’s a good framework to start with this year, and one that both parties (BCPSEA and BCTF) are happy with,” said Chilliwack Teachers’ Association president Clint Johnston, He said doesn’t see the need for putting another framework overtop.

The government argues its proposed contract would institute a “labour peace” and ensure that students currently enrolled in Grade 2 would graduate from high school without interruption.

The proposal suggests indexing public school teacher salaries to those of some other public sector employees in the province, and allocating $100 million toward a Priority Education Investment Fund. It also lays out a strict annual bargaining schedule, with many key dates falling in the summer.

One major sticking point for the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association is the proposed new fund, which is meant to address class size and compensation, all while removing these issues from the bargaining table.

“We have fought long and hard, and honestly at great expense to our own members in the courts, and we have won back the right to bargain our working conditions, to bargain class size and compensation issues,” said Johnston. “(The provincial government) is now going to take that from the bargaining table and put it to a policy table.”

Premier Christy Clark released the proposed 10-year framework with no real consultation with the teachers’ unions, and just weeks before political parties start campaigning for the election.