Chilliwack trustees won’t cross picket line

Two Chilliwack trustees refused to cross teacher picket lines set up at the board office during the June 17 public board meeting.

Chilliwack school district trustees Barry Neufeld and Dan Coulter took a stand for teachers at the June 17 public board meeting. The two trustees refused to cross the picket lines and spent the meeting outside with teachers instead.

Two Chilliwack school trustees showed their political stripes Tuesday night.

Trustees Dan Coulter and Barry Neufeld refused to cross the picket line at the school board office Tuesday evening, even though it meant not participating in the scheduled public board meeting.

“In the election, I said I wouldn’t cross picket lines,” said Coulter.

Not surprising.

Coulter, a former welder and millwright, before being paralyzed in a workplace accident, was president of the Chilliwack-Hope BC NDP constituency association before winning last fall’s school trustee byelection.

Instead of sitting around the board table, Coulter and Neufeld spent the duration of the meeting talking with picketing teachers and sitting in Coulter’s truck.

Not crossing the line was “out of respect for collective bargaining and unions and what they do and represent,” said Coulter.

“I think it’s important because locally it’s different then the provincial government negotiating with the BCTF. Locally, when it’s all over, we all live in the same community and we see each others faces, and we’ve got to go back to a positive working relationship when this is all over.”

The majority of of his colleagues, however, disagreed.

Trustees Doug Mckay, Heather Maahs, Walt Krahn, Martha Wiens and Silvia Dyck crossed the picket line and participated in the meeting.

For board chair Walt Krahn, passing agenda items trumped taking a stand.

“The important business of the day needed to carry on,” said Krahn.

Of the agenda items, the board approved the budget and achievement contract, both of which were required to be submitted to the Ministry of Education by the end of June.

“I certainly respect the process of negotiations, I fully understand the issues of funding, but in our case, we needed to carry on,” said Krahn. “Our entire community, including members of the community, students and teachers, need to have a budget in place for September. It was the important business of the board that supported my need to be in the board meeting.”

Krahn said the absenteeism of the dissenting trustees did not affect the meetings proceedings. However, labour strife did.

Originally the meeting was to feature a presentation by staff and students from Chilliwack middle school on the new aboriginal applied skills rotation program at the school. That, however, had been deleted from the agenda because of the teacher strike.

“We didn’t want to put staff into an awkward, compromising position,” said Krahn.

While Coulter expressed disappointment at missing the meeting, he said he’d do it again in a heartbeat.

“I’ve never crossed one, never ever,” he said.

School trustees are paid a monthly stipend, but it is not based on the meetings they attend.

Tuesday’s meeting was the last public board meeting until September.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

Just Posted

Fatal police encounter prompts investigation

Independent Investigations Office called in after one male dies

Overnight snow buries Chilliwack in white

Nearly 27 cm fall over a 24-hour period

Missed opportunities haunt Chilliwack Chiefs in loss to Prince George

The better team lost in BCHL action Friday night as the Spruce Kings escaped with a 2-1 road win.

Book launch for Being Ts’elxwéyeqw is going ahead tonight

Sto:lo Research Centre is hosting the event, which was rescheduled and going ahead despite the snow

Downtown dispensary raided in Chilliwack

Police execute search warrant Wednesday, seizing pot, edibles, oils, cash, business records and more

VIDEO: Coldest night walk raises money and awareness for local homeless youth

Local participation in nation-wide campaign supports Chilliwack youth shelter

B.C. VIEWS: Our not-so-New Democrats

Finance Minister Carole James takes the wheel, steers similar course

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canadians all smiles after record medal haul

Team Canada is taking home a record 29 medals from Pyeongchang – 11 gold, eight silver, 10 bronze

‘All of us should be ashamed’: Calls for change after jury finds Raymond Cormier not guilty

Jury acquitted Raymond Cormier in the death of Tina Fontaine after 11-hour deliberation

B.C. girl hopes DNA drive will help her find birth parents in China

Isabelle Smit, 10, is one of 20 international adoptees from Chongqing looking for DNA samples

That’s a wrap: Day 2 of B.C. Games ends with multiple ties in gold, bronze

Vancouver-Coastal Zone 5 continues to lead, so far earning 25 gold, 32 silver and 25 bronze

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Most Read