Why teachers may be forced into job action

"Despite bargaining for more than a year with the government there has been little progress made at the negotiating table."

Like all of you, teachers only want the best for their students.

Despite bargaining for more than a year with the government there has been little progress made at the negotiating table.

We have been waiting, very patiently, for the government to provide the necessary funding required for us to move forward in achieving a negotiated collective agreement.

Instead, they have attempted to remove, yet again, the important provisions for class size and composition and minimum levels of specialist teachers that the BC Supreme Court restored. As a result teachers have voted 89 per cent in favour of job action.

Local teachers concur with the comments made by BCTF President, Jim Iker, after our strike vote: “As teachers, we do not take job action, or even a vote on job action, lightly. We care deeply about our schools, our students, and their families. Many of us are parents or grandparents ourselves.

“B.C. teachers remain committed to negotiating a deal at the table. That is our goal. But once again, it depends on developments at the negotiating table. I encourage you to reach out  to your local MLA and tell them to work with us to get that deal negotiated at the table.  I want to thank our parents for the work that they do with their children and their support of us.”

How you can get involved and help:

• Talk to your child’s/grand-child’s teacher(s) about the supports they need to help our students succeed.

• Check out  www.aFairDeal.ca where you can quickly and easily “Have your say” in a letter to the Minister of Education and your MLA. The site also provides quick access to a great deal of information on the issues around bargaining.

• Talk to friends, relatives, and others in the community about the importance of an agreement that is fair for teachers and that will provide better support for our students.

Five quick facts about any potential job action we may be forced into:

1. A strike vote is a normal occurrence during negotiations of collective agreements and helps apply pressure to both parties during negotiations. Our hope is that a settlement will be reached without job

action being necessary.

2. Whatever happens next will depend entirely on progress at the negotiating table.

3. If a first stage of job action does become necessary, it will have no impact on students’ learning. Teachers will continue to be in classrooms, teaching, preparing lessons, and assessing students. We will continue participating in voluntary activities, writing report cards and communicating with parents.

4. If at some point talks stall or the government won’t make fair and reasonable proposals, rotating strikes would be the next step.

5. We’ve made a commitment that any full-scale strike will require another province-wide vote of the BCTF membership.

Be assured that BC teachers are strongly committed to reaching a negotiated agreement with government. We truly appreciate all the support we continue to receive from all of you to help us achieve this goal.

Andrew M. DavidoffPresident Kootenay Columbia Teachers UnionCastlegar

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