No progress at teacher bargaining table

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No progress at teacher bargaining table

Public school teachers are holding their third day of rotating strikes around the province today — with picket lines set up at 15 districts, including 3 on the Lower Mainland.

Speaking in front of a handful of picketing teachers outside Hillcrest Middle School in Coquitlam, BCTF President Jim Iker is asked if there’s been any progress at the bargaining table this week, with the rotating strikes and the partial lockout.

He says it’s still status quo, though it’s good they’re talking.

Premier Christy Clark said yesterday she wants to see a deal with the employer and teachers within the next 24 to 48 hours.

To that, Iker says, “Well, what we need is Christy Clark to actually give her employer which is also the government the mandate for the necessary funding, more funding to come to that table.”

Iker says the union will decide whether to continue the one-day rotating strikes, after this afternoon’s bargaining session.



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  1. Alberta solution: Focus on the economy. Pay teachers more. AB’s credit rating is stable. Schools open. Learning outcomes measureable. Build pipelines now. Win-Win.

  2. Great letter from a teacher, read by Phillip Till this morning. More real stories from the classroom are needed to educate the public what really goes on in the classrooms! Our teacher are doing an amazing job of parenting and teaching our children in the public system but they need more support for Special needs students. Christy Clark needs to go and sit in a classroom in the Public system for a day and then get a true picture of what’s going on!
    Nancy- parent of a special needs student

    • So, if we pay you more and increase your benefits, all things will be better?

      I wish there was a place where Parents who have had trouble with Teachers and the BCTF to go. Perhaps Till could do I story on that, or would that be not fair, you know, giving another opinion?

      No one is saying there are not problems with in the system, but giving the Teachers more money is not the answer.
      Why not try to work with your employer to make things better?, As it should be obvious to everyone, the approach you have used over the last 40 years has got you where?
      Teachers seem to be very slow learners.

  3. Why do we talk about paying teachers more to get better quality of teachers when all teachers should do their best no matter what they are paid. That is called having pride in your occupation and is evidenced in the students’ successes. We all remember the teachers who made a difference to our education and I hear that from my child when she loves one of her teachers.
    I do fully sympathise with the classroom composition issues, such as having several kids with special needs in the classroom, having worked in that area myself.

    • gill, the classroom composition is the real issue here. It looks to me as if the Liberal Government is attempting to influence public opinion by distorting the real issue into a teacher pay issue. I suspect the real truth would come out in arbitration, but the Government does not want to go there. What does that tell you?

      • Classroom composition and class size are real issues that need to be sorted out but, they have absolutely nothing to do with a union or union demands. This is a leadership (government) issue. An employee has zero right to demand a say in the policies of any industry other than a safe work environment and appropriate remuneration. These issues should be brought to the campaign trail for all voters of BC to decide rather than continuosly holding the children for ransom by the BCTF.

        • Isn’t that what is under appeal; the right to bargain for class size and composition. The province argued teachers don’t have that right and the court disagreed and said they do. Didn’t the Court say that refusal to include it in collective bargaining amounted to “bad faith”? Legal people tell me that the chances of a successful appeal are close to zero.

          Why is this still an issue for you? Let’s move on to arbitration – maybe a properly advised arbitrator can recommend a transitional agreement which takes into account the contingency of the appeal with further bargaining once the appeal judgment is delivered.

          Surely this current dog fight is unnecessary, don’t you agree?

          • You may well be right on the final decision of the courts after all the appeals are exhausted. Time will tell. That doesn’t mean I must agree and be quiet until then does it?

        • Until the Liberals stripped class size and composition language from the collective agreement in 2002, those issues had relevance in the teachers’ collective agreement.

          Two court decisions have reinforced the “rule of law” that NO government is above the law and cannot strip rights enshrined in the constitution.

          Another stupid comment by someone who doesn’t understand democracy and the law .

          Even Christy Clark would not be so stupid to ask the voters for a mandate to break the law.

          And this guy is serious? Can you believe it? He’s beating a dead horse.

  4. The proposal the BCPSEA has on the Table regarding class size and composition is a good proposal. Just not good enough for the BCTF.
    When you look at what has happen since 2002, B.C. schools has actually done better than before. Of course the BCTF/Teachesr just ignore that.
    Why spend the Billions of dollars needed to go back to a system that actually was worse for the Students, just because the BCTF wants it?

    • Dwight, you’re brilliant. Now go down to the courthouse, file as an intervener in the appeal and see if you can convince the Appeals Court of your brilliance in education on a delicate issue like class size and composition. Your shift at Wal-Mart is due.

      • Hey Mike, thanks for the kind words. You are an excellent example of Teachers. Nobody knows anything but Teachers. Attack and name call, belittle. Is that not Bullying Mike? You know all about bullying!
        Why don’t you answer this question… If things have got better since 2002, why do you want to go backward?? Why imcrease our Taxes to go backwards?
        Also, why is it okay for the BCTF to use the Appeal system, but not the Government.

        • So you’re saying you know more about what happens in a public school each day than the teachers that actually work there…That’s the argument you’re going with…??? Tell me what all the teachers in here are missing…?? What piece of wisdom do you know that no one else does…

          • Why Don’t you answer the question Dave?
            Was it not your well thought out remark that CUPE does not deserve the same benefits as you Teachers because they don’t have a degree?
            I am sure all your CUPE brethren really appreciated that comment. WE are better than everyone else and , if you don’t believe just ask you.

    • What evidence do you have that system was worse. Liberals had agenda to gut education budget in 2002 do they could spend money elsewhere. How can having fewer specialist teachers be better for special needs students. HEU also had their contract ripped up….for which the taxpayers of BC had to pay remedy.

      • Test scores are higher, graduation rates are higher, aboriginal graduation rates are higher, drop-out is lower…… Getting the point?

        2002 Education budget = $4.8b
        2014 Education budget = $5.4b
        Number of public school students 2002 = 595,000
        Number of public school students 2013 = 525,000

        Explain your definition of “… agenda to gut education budget…”

    • This is my first post of the day and it was nuked”because you are posting too quickly…”

      Do not be led astray by Dwight’s comment that the BCPSEA class size and composition proposal on the Table is a “good proposal.” Dwight is only expressing an opinion so consider the source.

      In reality, the BCPSEA proposal is to entice the union into an agreement whereby the union will essentially agree to abandon its long-held position on its right to negotiate class size and composition.

      The long-held union position is that the government stripped teachers of their constitutional right to bargain class size and composition. With two BC court decisions upholding the union’ position, it would be insane for the union to give up its best bargaining chip.

      BCPSEA needs to agree to restore the original class size and composition language in its entirety-pending the outcome of the government’s appeal. Let’s face it. It is highly unlikely that a higher court will decide that the government is above the law and can strip teachers’ bargaining rights that are enshrined in the constitution. The “rule of law” is fundamental to our democracy.

      In my opinion, the argument “the government cannot afford to pay the costs of complying with the original language stipulations” is irrelevant.

      Firstly, the government did accept and spent whatever attendants costs arose from class size and composition language in the first place. But that changed when then Education Minister Christy Clark introduced Bills 27 and 28 in 2002 and 2004. Reverting to the pre-2002 language will not cost “more” today than 2001-except for inflationary factors.

      Secondly, the “so-called ability of government to pay” the BCTF or the public sector cannot only be based on the current salary levels or the demanded increases. There are more factors at play. The “inability to pay” was a self-inflicted disease. Concurrent with the introduction of Bills 27 and 28, the government purposely reduced its revenue stream by lowering provincial income taxes.

      Little wonder, the government ran several years of deficits-including a record deficit-until higher revenue came on stream from natural gas royalties, sale of natural gas exploration rights, higher permit and user fees. The shift from income taxes (a progressive tax), to consumption taxes (a regressive tax), continues to this day.

      So it is simplistic to argue that the government cannot afford to pay when it is, in part, the author of its own problems because it mismanaged the revenue and expense sides of the ledger. The government no longer dares to increase income-tax rates-even temporarily- because they were lowered at the same time consumption taxes and fees were increased. We have lost much flexibility in our ability to make fiscal policy changes. There are too many balls being juggled in the air at once.

      So while the BCTF and the government are at war, it is TIME to think outside of the box.

      • In need of another economic lesson I see. Firstly, the government doesn’t pay anything. Normal, everyday, hardworking, taxpaying citizens pay.

        Secondly the ability to pay is THE ONLY relevant point in this whole argument.

        To date there are two ideas from supporters of the BCTF position on how to pay for their demands:

        1. The Nike Plan from Aldina – “just find it” from some place. Stop spending money on worthless things (anything that does not go to teachers) and start spending it on worthy things (teachers).

        2. Your plan, which I will call the Grandkids Plan – borrow the money and let some other generation worry about paying the bill.

        This whole class size/composition issue was a grenade thrown by the NDP as they were being tossed from office. It was a payoff to union friends and a kick to the head of taxpayers.

        • @Don;

          Your response certainly demonstrates that you have absolutely zero knowledge or credentials in economic matters.

          And you can’t read or understand English either. Nowhere did I suggest borrowing money to pay teachers or build stadiums or convention centres.

          Oops, sorry-money was borrowed to pay for those venues as well as SEa-to Sky Hwy, Port Mann and every capital project. since Christy took over, our debt has increased by $20 billlion.

          The ability to pay is a matter of government priority. This government “cut off its nose in spite of its face” -By reducing income taxes, it ran up a record deficit despite increasing user fees, permits and other consumption taxes. And that deficit was rolled into DEBt. It had to be borrowed.

          But you cannot figure out what grade 5 students can-that nothing has changed by putting a little bit of money in one pocket and taking more out of the other pocket.

          So it is somewhat understandable that you hate teachers because you did poorly in school.

          It is tiresome hearing the same BS about putting the teachers in their place by breaking the law.

          I’m for raising income taxes to pay teachers more. That also means 40,000 teachers will also pay more to finance their salary increase. And higher salaries will allow teachers, as consumers, to grow the economy. Intuitively, it is consumer spending which has the greatest influence on GDP growth.

          But you will not understand such concepts.

          • You seem to think that your prior posts somehow disappear. Last week you suggested the government borrow money based on future LNG revenue. Today, you don’t stand behind those words.

            A Grade 5 student understands that when they spend all their money, there is no other pocket. Where is the government hiding this treasure that you seem to think exists?

            And once again, I have to tutor you on economics. Google search The Broken Window Theory of Economics. Taught to every Econ Student. You do remember your Econ courses don’t you? Here is a hint, wealth distribution doesn’t create wealth.

          • @ Don:

            Running out of threads to respond.

            Obviously, I’m way older than someone still wet behind the ears. Is that the only gem you gleaned out of economics? Pie in the sky economic theory wasn’t around when I completed post-grad studies. A lot of economic studies are sponsored by special interests and governments-so no surprise there.

            What’s wealth distribution got to do with paying teachers unless teachers make more money than you? You’ve heard of the Deprivation Theory-have you not?
            Nothing I wrote suggested wealth distribution creates wealth. But, I repeat more money in 40,000 teacher pockets will keep the economy going and contributing to GDP growth.

            The government pleads poverty but promises a trillion dollar LNG industry leading to a debt-free BC. So if LNG is a “take to the bank” financial windfall, why not borrow the money? We’re doing it anyways-$25 billion of borrowing since CC took over.

            I guess you haven’t tumbled to the old government trick ofputting money into one pocket and pick-pocketing the other. WAC Bennett was a master at that. I’m sorry you didn’t catch onto the metaphor.

            Come back with facts and rational analysis-not emotion- when someone does not agree with you. Don’t put words in my mouth or anyone else’s mouth-especially out of context. Have an open mind.

            You can do better than that?

      • “Insite?” I know it is hard for you to understand but others are entitled to opinions also. Funny how you liked my opinion when I told you about the Wright Commission. Hell, now your the Wright Commission expert, or so you think,
        Now you are an expert on class size and comp.also.
        You are indeed a legend in your own mind.

        • Dwight-I agree with you but would rephrase your comments to suggest that everyone, other posters, you and I are entitled to express opinions.

          But what you are ignoring is that expressed opinions often differ and that is a good thing.

          And you have a problem if you cannot accept my or anyone else’s different views and supporting reasons that may trump what you have to say because your m.o. is to attack the person offering a contrary opinion raher than provide a response backed up by further facts or an analysis of the story under discussion. Having said that, you do offer compelling thoughts as well.

          Absolutely not. I did not agree with your opinion that the Wright Commission Report provided the solution to solving the on=going impasse and war. Frankly, I thought Don Wright only got it partially correct in light of the two court decisions. OK-I’ll be fair. The two court decisions had yet to be rendered when he wrote his report. But, you need to admit that he was being rather presumptive.

          I exposed the fatal flaw in the Wright Report. Mr. Wright may have been very sincere but two court decisions have proven his assumption that Bills 27 and 28 were NOT good to take to the bank.

          As for binding arbitration, I am no stranger to arbitration-having been at LRB hearings to deal with union grievances-in a mamangement capacity-as well as a civil arbitration which I lost but I was able to appeal to an Arbitration Specialist that I did not receive a fair hearing. As a result, the said Arbitrator lost his job on the roster. I accomplished that without a lawyer.

          So It was not necessary for me to read the Wright Report for me to call for binding arbitration. The most I will allow is that you and the Wright Report tweaked my memory.

          But seriously, what happened to you? You appeared to be very enthusiastic about the value of the Wright Report for some time. Now, you’ve distanced yourself from the good or valid recommendations (especially binding arbitration) and have reverted to attack mode on the BCTF. I have no problem if you or antone attacks me.

          BTW, I’m capable of taking either side of any issue-I’ve had nearly 18 years in a pseudo-judical environment and in an often adversarial situation.

  5. I wish our leaders would go to Scandinavia and see how they do it because they are rated among the highest in education, healthcare ,life expectancy .
    Lets find out what their doing right instead of reinventing the wheel.

    • And Trev . . . they are busy rolling back Socialism in Sweden and Norway.
      Norway just elected a Conservative PM last fall . . . Sweden will have an election in September and will likely re-ellect their right-of-center govt to a Third Term.

      Do you know why Norway is so successful Trev? They Drill for Gas and Oil, build pipelines, sail tankers and sell their gas and oil to the World. What a concept!

  6. I wonder what the BCTF/Teachers will do if the Appeal court overturns the Lower court?
    This Union, obviously by the posting of its member, doesn’t agree with Appealing decisions?

    • Appeal all you want, but get the kids back to school. See, ms neither of the parties can accomplish that without a third party. Why the resistance to binding arbitration? or ‘does Clark simply intend to legislate? Now that’s the bad faith portion of the court ruling you don’t understand!

  7. Insite: Here is a quote straight out of your last post:

    “Nothing I wrote suggested wealth distribution creates wealth. But, I repeat more money in 40,000 teacher pockets will keep the economy going and contributing to GDP growth.”

    Just in case the contradiction is not obvious to you, you are maintaining that taking money from one person and giving it to another, grows the economy. If your share of the teacher raise is $1000, the teachers will have an extra $1000 to spend, but your spending power was just reduced by $1000. The net effect is zero.

    The public sector does not grow the GDP because you are simply redistributing wealth.

    I will not stoop to taking personal shots like you have done, but I will pass along some advice since you feel free to hand out some on a regular basis. Read your words before you post and try to remember what you have said in the past. You have become quite inconsistent while trying to hang on to your position.

  8. Dear All that like to argue,

    I see here lots of factoids flung back and forth, but realize that maybe there might be a human being behind thos portals or screens controling them? Is that not correct? Well, in so writting, I wanted to point out that the union and the government are always at odds and that happens in a negotiation, but should we not tkae the side of the human in this case? sorry for being criptic, but we should be happy when some one is taken care of and paid properly, treated respectfully and justly. This is not happening and like the old adage, “It takes two to tango” and both are at fault. The ones that are held hostage are of course teachers and thier students wh they care deeply for, thus; even in this confusing time when the government is fling inconsitencies their way and taking a 10% hit on the chin…not even taking into consideration the lost wages from the strike day(s), we have to support those that need it…our teachers. They are the ones that have had to deal with the disrespect of not only your bantor here and mis-information, but also the lies and disrespect of the government. Our society has really gotten mean lately and here it definitely does not get any better…so if you want a good debate, take a look at both sides because the truth is there somewhere and it is that the teachers are just human and they deserve some respect. Respect is not a cut in their pay, not another court case so that more is spent in court and lawyer fees than in negotiating, respect is not a 10% cut in pay because you want to push them into negotiating, respect is coming to the table and showing students and teachers that their job is important. Having a respectful conversation about what is possible, but not stripping a contract and saying that you are worth less than last year or that you are not even worth keeping up with inflation!