Teachers’ job action shifts school duties

With teachers dropping their administrative duties, management and other school staff may be balancing more than they can bargain for on their timetable.

With teachers dropping their administrative duties, management and other school staff may be balancing more than they can bargain for on their timetable.

Over six months of failed negotiations with the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association led the B.C. Teachers’ Federation to file strike notice at the beginning of the month, resulting in the province’s 41,000 teachers refusing to perform administrative duties as a tactic in bargaining for a new collective agreement.

“It makes our day a little bit longer,” admitted J. L. Crowe Secondary School principal David DeRosa.

“The things that we used to be able to do in that time, we’ve got to find other time to do it now,” he added.

The greatest challenge in School District 20 has been communication with the removal of staff meetings while supervision has also been tough, as management is spread thin during recess and bus duty to ensure students are not impacted by the change locally.

“Teachers’ focus at the start of the school year is kids and start up and getting relationships and plans and rules set for their classes that establish their expectations for the year,” said DeRosa.

“From that perspective, things are relatively normal but it’s a little bit more leg work for us to distribute things and take on some of those day-to-day tasks.”

Andrew Davidoff, president of the Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union, laughed when asked how provincial bargaining was faring. But Davidoff still believes the job action is sending a strong message.

“The intent of Phase 1 was to focus on teaching and that’s what we’re doing and now the administration realizes how many other things that we do other than teach so now they’re doing them and I can’t imagine they’re happy,” he said. “Teachers do a heck of a lot more than just teach and that’s been made very clear and forcefully to administration now and they’re feeling the pressure.”

The teachers’ union is hopeful that those carrying the extra weight will voice their concerns and the message will result in some serious bargaining.

The main sticking points in the bargaining process are class sizes, benefits and wage increases.