UPDATED: BCTF calls vote on B.C. bargaining

The B.C. Teachers' Federation is holding a member vote this week, seeking a mandate to reject "government interference"

Outgoing BCTF president Susan Lambert and president-elect Jim Iker

VICTORIA – The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is holding a member vote this week, seeking a mandate to reject “government interference” in province-wide bargaining.

Outgoing BCTF president Susan Lambert notified 40,000 public school teachers of the vote in a letter sent out Monday, a copy of which was obtained by Black Press. Teachers have until Friday to vote.

“We need to send a strong message to government that teachers will not accept a 10-year scheme to lock in another decade of deteriorating conditions,” Lambert wrote. “The ballot will read: ‘Do you support our bargaining team and their efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement, and oppose any government interference in the bargaining process? Yes or No’.”

The vote signals a reversal of the BCTF position on bargaining. In a submission to the government in December 2012, the union called for “provincial bargaining between the BCTF and government regarding salary, benefits, hours of work, paid leaves, class size, class composition, and staffing levels for specialist teachers,” and “local bargaining of all other items.”

BCTF president-elect Jim Iker acknowledged Wednesday that the union called for direct bargaining on provincial issues late last year, but negotiated a new “bargaining framework” with the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association in January.

“This ‘agreement in committee’ allowed bargaining to move forward in a quiet, out-of-the-media-spotlight manner and meetings began in February,” Iker said. “The talks since have been the most constructive talks in years and that’s why teachers are hoping the provincial government does not interfere.”

The province-wide vote follows Monday’s announcement by Education Minister Peter Fassbender that he has asked for a “pause” in bargaining, to appoint a direct government negotiator for province-wide issues with a goal of reaching a 10-year deal. With the current two-year agreement due to expire June 30, negotiators for the BCTF and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, representing school districts, have been ongoing since February.

“We are not walking away from the table, we are walking toward it,” Fassbender said. “The work that has been done to date will not be lost. In fact, we want to build on it.”

A BCTF spokesman said the government request for a “pause” has been withdrawn, and talks continued Wednesday with BCTF and BCPSEA representatives.


Just Posted

Local rock hound carves a 9-tonne granite grizzly bear

Chilliwack’s Paul McCarl’s about to complete a carving project 14 years in the making

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

GW Graham basketball star signs on with Trinity Western Spartans

Grizzly grad Jaya Bannerman is opting to stay close to home after graduating in June.

Metro gas prices hit 155.7 cents a litre and higher

Lower Mainland could see 1.60 cents by April

WATCH: Giant Flowers artwork going up at Evans roundabout in Chilliwack

The artwork installation Tuesday was causing very little traffic disruption for Chilliwack drivers

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Cops say gun-toting robbers used fake police lights to pull over victims

Information wanted on North Shuswap robbery, police impersonation, burnt vehicle, motorhome theft.

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings close to advancing

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Plane filled with smoke lands at Nanaimo Airport

WestJet flight came in from Vancouver

VSO to perform ‘Star Wars’ music while 1977 movie plays on big screen

Three shows for the classic at iconic Orpheum Theatre this summer

B.C. emergency alert system being tested Wednesday

Alarm tone and message will play on TV and radio

BC Conservatives pumped by poll results

Surge in popularity has BC party picturing elected representatives in Victoria

5 to start your day

A serious crash in Langley, Surrey man wanted in connection to vicious assault and more

Most Read