Re: “Province brings only threats to table,” November 24
The comments of teacher Shawn Gough in his letter of November 24 are factually incorrect and misleading.
The document to which Mr. Gough refers was distributed to boards of education in early October, not “late last week” as asserted by Mr. Gough. At a meeting held on October 3, school trustees from around the province discussed the current state of bargaining with the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), the effect in districts of the BCTF Phase 1 strike, and how best to move negotiations forward. Just as the Labour Relations Code provides options to employees to put pressure on the employer — and the BCTF is currently exercising their option to strike by withdrawing specific duties — there are also a number of options available to the employer, which were referenced in our discussion paper (publicly available on our website at www.bcpsea.bc.ca).
Trustees provided overwhelming support to the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) Board of Directors to make the necessary decisions regarding the nature and timing of any employer response, with the intent of placing counter pressure on the BCTF to get serious at the bargaining table.
On October 26, BCPSEA filed an application with the Labour Relations Board (LRB) to request that the LRB vary the Essential Services Order to require teachers to prepare and distribute report cards, and require the BCTF, upon notice to BCPSEA, to reimburse each school district monthly in an amount equal to 15% of the total gross salaries and benefits costs paid to or on behalf of BCTF members by the school district for that month.
Currently, the BCTF is carrying out its strike action without any financial consquences on the union or its members, as recognized by the LRB in a decision issued on September 2. This results in an imbalance, with the union exerting presure on boards of education with no corresponding pressure on the union. We are awaiting the LRB decision on our application.
Our objective is to achieve a negotiated collective agreement with the BCTF. We have been at the table since March 1, engaged in over 55 bargaining sessions with no substantive progress, and the BCTF is on strike. The BCTF continues to maintain $2.1 billion of proposals on the table.
In a move designed to focus discussions at the table, at the November 22 bargaining session BCPSEA tabled a revised package of proposals that included the withdrawal of eight proposals previously tabled by the employer. Our proposals, as well as a discussion paper outlining the rationale for the proposals, can be accessed on our public website at http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/bc-teachers/teacher-collective-bargaining.aspx.
Melanie Joy, Chair
BCPSEA Board of Directors