School District 20 teachers await further direction after a strike vote passed late last week.
But the president of the local union said right now it’s just a wait and see.
“We want government to come to the table and bargain in good faith; We don’t want to walk off the job, that’s not our intent,” confirmed Andy Davidoff, president of the Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union.
“The strike vote was taken to show government our solidarity and requesting them to come to the table with a reasonable set of proposals that we can actually consider and that’s what bargaining should be.”
More than 29,000 teachers voted, with 26,000 (89 per cent) saying “yes” to the strike option that can be activated on 72 hours’ notice for 90 days.
If job action is needed it will occur in stages but any initial action won’t include school closures, an end to teachers participating in extracurricular activities or an impact on report cards or communication with parents.
“We’re very concerned that it appears that this government wants to govern by dictate, by faith and basically that they receive a mandate and it looks like they believe that gives them cart blanche authority to do whatever they want to do, even if it’s illegal and that really is causing a lot of concern for I think more than just our members,” said Davidoff.
He’s referring to the last dispute, which the former chair of the province’s bargaining team recently stepped out to claim that the government negotiators had no intention of reaching a deal.
In a letter to her local newspaper (The Creston Valley Advance), Kootenay Lake School District 8 trustee Melanie Joy said she became cognizant after reading the ruling by Justice Susan Griffin on Jan. 27, which cut through the Liberals’ education legislation on class size and composition over the past decade.
“She basically made it very clear that what our current Minister of Education was saying was absolutely inaccurate and confirmed what Madame Justice Griffin said in the B.C. Supreme Court decision that the government pretty much lamented the missed opportunity to legislate concessions and there was absolutely no good faith bargaining happening.
“Our members are very concerned about that and that was reflected in the strike vote.”