Re: Teachers trying to stay positive, Nov. 24 letters.
The assertions made by the Surrey teachers in their letter to the editor are incorrect and misleading.
The objective of the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) from the outset of bargaining has been, and remains, achievement of a negotiated collective agreement with the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), as we were able to do in 2006.
However, we have been at the bargaining table since March 1, we have engaged in over 55 bargaining sessions to date, negotiations have moved at a glacial pace and the BCTF is on strike.
The BCTF continues to maintain $2.1 billion of proposals on the table – an unrealistic approach at any time and particularly during a net zero compensation mandate period when two-thirds of other public sector employees have been able to craft creative solutions with their employers to conclude collective agreements under the mandate. There is no reason why BCPSEA and the BCTF should not be able to do the same.
They also state that “BCPSEA is also making threats, to cut our salary…” That is incorrect.
On Oct. 26, BCPSEA filed an application with the Labour Relations Board to request that the LRB vary the ‘essential services order’ to require teachers to prepare and distribute report cards, and require the BCTF to reimburse each school district monthly in an amount equal to 15 per cent 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 consequences on the union or its members. This results in an imbalance, with the union exerting pressure on boards of education with no corresponding pressure on the union.
We are awaiting the LRB decision on our application.
Further, in a move designed to focus discussions at the table, at the Nov. 22 bargaining session BCPSEA tabled a revised package of proposals that included the withdrawal of eight proposals previously tabled by the employer. We invited the BCTF to make a similar move, but our request was declined.
Melanie Joy, BCPSEA board of directors chair