Confusion over lock out letter sparks war of words

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk
Confusion over lock out letter sparks war of words

The Vancouver School Board is scrambling to figure out what teachers and adminstrators can and can’t do under the employer’s partial lock out taking affect Monday.

Trustee Mike Lombardi says the BCPSEA letter is so confusing they are now seeking an urgent legal opinion to analyze and interpret it.

Lombardi says they have also called the BC School Trustees Association.

“We are asking the BCSTA to get an opinion on behalf of school boards across the province on two things. One, the roles responsibilities, and obligations of boards in implementing the lock out notice and secondly an analysis and interpretation of the provisions of the lock out notice and the questions and answers document.”

Lombardi says the need the information as soon as possible.

“The sooner the better. We have put in an urgent request. We just think it is adding to the instability unfortunately because it is a very very unclear document. I am sure we are not the only district going through this.”

Lombardi says they will also reach out to BCPSEA to see if they can provide any clarity.

“In order for boards to function we need clarity. We are a large district with more than 3000 teachers and 110 schools. We can’t have our senior staff fielding questions and trying top provide guidance on something we had no role in creating and no local assistance, understanding, or guidance. So that is what we are trying to do.”

He says Vancouver staff have fielded hundreds of phone calls about the lock out and have few if any answers.

The provincial government’s lead negotiator is firing back the Vancouver School Board and dismissing its complaint the BCPSEA letter is too confusing.

Peter Cameron says BCPSEA is available to answer any and all questions.

“The matter is in hand and getting a legal opinion about the meaning of a letter is just about useless.”

Cameron also had this to say about Mike Lombardi.

“Mike Lombardi is a great guy but he is a former BCTF staff rep and I think he should be standing back from this. I think this is just creating confusion and not helping at all.”

He adds there is just as much confusion and questions about the impact of the rotating teachers strikes on students.

BCPSEA has now posted two question and answer documents over as many days since it issued a letter rolling back teachers wages and placing them under a partial lock out.

Lead negotiator Peter Cameron is asked if they should have sorted all this out before issuing the lock out letter.

“No. The letter and the purpose of the letter and the activities under the letter are really clear in terms of there general process. This is a matter of detail. There is always going to be all kinds of details. Question and answers are just that. When questions come up answers go out and try to deal with it for everybody. It is just a complex situation.”

Schools in Vancouver, Mission, and New Westminster will be behind picket lines Monday as teachers begin four days of rotating strikes.

Below you can listen to raw audio of Peter Cameron’s comments on Mike Lombardi and the Vancouver school trustee firing back



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    • Your right David their famous for making up policy as they go, that negotiator press conference was a joke where he admitted the lock out order needs tweaking.
      Makes you wonder if their even competent enough to get a deal.

      • Paid as much as he is, I would have expected that the document was ‘tweaked’ before publishing to the public. Every senior high school student knows that is the case before submitting their essays for marking. BCPSEA’s Q & A document on their website seems to contradict their own lock out order. How is a teacher supposed to volunteer their tutoring time at lunch or after school when they’ve been told not to work at those times. If teachers are to be out of the school 45 minutes after the end of instruction, how are they supposed to coordinate the grad ceremonies?

  1. So, instead of going to the BCPSEA which is the other party in this Mess, Lombardi goes to the BCSTA and Lawyers? Why? Just to cloud things more. Lombardi and Bucchus are both so far up the BCTFs/NPDs rear it is impairing their vision of what is really going on.
    If one has a problem understanding the BCTF, would you contact the BCSTA or the BCTF?
    Makes it a little easier to understand why the VSB is so screwed up.

  2. So Peter Cameron, the lead negotiator for the employers group BCPSEA, appointed by Christy, who supposedly represents the school boards – is now telling Mike Lombardi, a duly elected Vancouver School Board trustee to back off. Who exactly is Peter Cameron working for?

  3. My old friend Peter Cameron appears to have gotten himself so thoroughly twisted up and bent inside-out that he, who once was a master at exposing bullshit and bafflegab, has become but a sad caricature of that which he previously despised.

    The facts are that the communications put forward by Peter Cameron and the BCPSEA around the selective lockout of the the BCTF are so convoluted and ill-conceived that they have raised far more questions than they have answered. Elected School Board officials, such as Mike Lombardi, who are expected to understand and administer a Ministry edict, and BCTF officials, who are expected to advise their members so as to not run afoul of such edicts, should not be put in a position of not knowing the details of what is and what is not expected. It is not good enough to be left to register questions to be answered belatedly through a series of slap dash Q&As, hastily issued to cover for the Ministry’s ill-conceived lockout and cavalier directives. These are serious legal issues with serious legal consequences for all concerned and Peter Cameron knows this better than most.

    It is completely disingenuous to suggest that Mike Lombardi should effectively recuse himself from the discussion simply because he was previously a union activist and official. Mike was elected to do a job at the Vancouver School Board; elected one might suggest, partly because of his educational experience and knowledge. He is precisely the kind of person, who, because of that experience, should be asking the questions that need answers. That he and others have to ask such questions is genuinely disturbing.

    It would be foolish in the extreme to suggest that Peter Cameron should recuse himself from participating or commenting on the bargaining process simply because he once was a respected, elected trade union official in a tough, militant and democratic Canadian union. That was then. This is now. So I won’t!


    Jef Keighley
    Halfmoon Bay, BC

    Past National Union Representative with CAIMAW (Canadian Association of Industrial, Mechanical and Allied Workers) and Retired National Union Representative with CAW Canada (now Unifor)

    PS. CAIMAW was Peter’s and my old union. Peter was our respected BC/Alberta Regional Vice-President. In fact, it was on his recommendation that our rank and file National Executive Board hired me for six months to stand in for a good friend and colleague who was going on maternity leave in 1980. That turned into the longest six months of my life, stretching into 25 great years working for our members. Peter left CAIMAW in 1986. In 1992 CAIMAW merged into the CAW. I retired in 2005.