G.W. Graham sports won’t be affected by job action

Chilliwack school’s spring athletic program, which includes girls’ soccer, track and field and golf will go ahead as planned.

Warnings of discipline are not enough to stop G.W. Graham’s athletic director from continuing to provide sports programming outside of classroom hours.

Jake Mouritzen has promised athletics will continue at G.W. Graham middle-secondary, regardless of the recent teacher vote to withdraw from extracurricular activities.

“Graham Athletics will continue during this difficult time,” Mouritzen said in an email to The Progress.

“We will support teacher-coaches that choose to coach in their spare time, and we will also support those teachers that choose to not participate in any extracurricular activities during this time.”

That statement flies in the face of a warning, issued in last month’s Chilliwack Teachers’ Association newsletter, that teachers could face consequences if they “flagrantly defy” the will of the majority.

Such consequences listed included the potential for an uncomfortable work environment long after the political struggle ends; a meeting with the CTA executive to provide a rationale for continuing services; and a hearing with the judicial council, where they could “receive a sanction that is deemed appropriate by the council of their peers.”

“We need to stand in solidarity,” the newsletter reads.

But for Mouritzen, the students need to be supported more.

“We appreciate this is a very difficult time for everyone, and at this time Graham athletics will support our current student athletes in the system,” he said.

The school’s spring athletic program, which includes girls’ soccer, track and field and golf will go ahead as planned. However, they will look “drastically different” depending on the leadership in place.

“Moving forward – short term – we will bring in community support for those teams in need of coaches,” said Mouritzen.

G.W. Graham’s football program will not be affected in any way as it has several community coaches involved.

Chilliwack secondary is also going ahead with its track and field program with a teacher at the helm. But its girls soccer program was cancelled following the teacher vote.

Chilliwack wasn’t the only teachers’ union to advise its members against continuing their volunteer work. Similar letters and or newsletters have been sent out across the province.

But it was a letter from the Burnaby Teachers’ Association that caught the ire of B.C. Education Minister George Abbott last week.

The Burnaby letter directed its members to section 44.2 of the BCTF Members Guide, which allows for sanctions against members who act in opposition to collective action – which would include continuing their volunteer work.

Abbott was quoted in the Vancouver media as saying the direction was unfortunate and misguided.

kbartel@theprogress.com

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