BC teachers vote overwhelmingly in favour of full-scale strike

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

Through two days of voting, 33387 teachers cast ballots with 86% – or 28,809 – voting yes.

BC Teacher’s Federation President Jim Iker says teachers have to give 72 hours working notice, and have the weekend to get down to it and bargain, and get a deal done before any further action needs to be taken.

He says rotating strikes will continue until decision on full-scale strike made.

Jennifer Wadge is the President the Surrey Teachers Association, and she says they are very pleased with the vote.

She says “We knew it would be in the sort of higher 80′s or 90′s. So we’re really happy with the percentage. It just shows that you know teachers took the time to be thoughtful in their vote and to show the government and BCPSE that they stand behind their bargaining team. And we’re really excited about the turnout. As Jim Iker said, that’s one of the biggest turnout’s we’ve ever had in the history of the BCTF so it really the teahers were engaged in this vote.”

Turnout was about 81%

Meanwhile Education Minister Peter Fassbender says vote results are not unexpected.

Fassbender adds that since next Monday is the earliest a full walkout could take place, they still have five days of bargaining to go.

“It took five days of hard bargaining to get a framework agreement with school support staff. They did not need to strike to get a fair deal and neither do teachers.”

So, how do parents feel about all of this?

The president of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) says while the result from the BCTF vote was predictable, he’s disappointed that there is potential for job action to escalate.

“I just wish there was some other way to deal with it. I’d like to extend open arms to the BCTF to work with us to, you know, really get the message through to the government. I think we can do that without shutting down the schools.”

Terry Berting says he thinks having an independent arbitrator would be a better way to negotiate a deal than threatening to shut down BC’s schools.

Comments

    • It is a shocker for you Liberal insiders to see that the BCTF is a union of Teachers. A Union is only good by the membership,you guys on the right always like to portray the fact that teachers are being led down a wicked path by the BCTF the BCTF is run by the Teachers.

      • you are wrong there Ken… there is a radical element within the BCTF which is making life hell for any teacher that isn’t toeing the Union line . I’ve talked to some of these teachers and they just put their head down and do as they are told by their union boss

      • Um, no. Wrong again. The shock (note sarcasm) is that for over 40 years the BCTF consitently says that the governments don’t care about education – yes, even your NDP government. They’ve made some mistakes, but I applaud this government for finally attempting to break this cycle for the future benefit to teachers, kids, taxpayers and the BC economy. This crazy hostility has to end and obviously money isn’t enough to stop it.

  1. More teachers turned out for this vote than did for the first vote. Stop ticking off the people that spend the most amount of time with our children after parents. What will schools look like without the good will of teachers that make it a place where kids want to be. Make a fair deal and end this nonsense!

    • Come on Dave, what are you really putting at risk? A few days of salary at worst. Go ahead and strike. The essential stuff will get done, finals will be written and marked, you will be legislated back to work in September and hopefully angry teachers will quit. But have a plan B because the real world is going to shock you.

    • Teachers demonstrated a great resolve by sanctioning a full-scale strike if needed. The result was much more decisive than what I expected.

      Hopefully, all plays out well for them. They deserve a reasonable increase in salary (taking into account-comparative salaries) and better working conditions.

      The turn-out and voting results should effectively silence previous claims that earlier results were not representative of the total teachers eligible to vote.

      Just the turn-out was over 80 percent with a slam-dunk 86 percent mandate compared to around a 60 percent turn-out in the 2013 BC election.

      That said, it only takes 50 percent plus 1 in a democratic process.

  2. If they BCTF isn’t going to move on wages, why wait to call the strike.

    A teacher in my child’s high school moved the date for handing in projects to monday, hoping that there wouldn’t be any school.

    • The teacher already moved on wages where have you been! The government just does’nt accept the teacher’s bargaining strategy, I think most of the parents are behind the teachers! They want smaller class sizes and more funding for special needs.

      • I hardly call a whopping 1% concession the TF proposed on wages ‘movement’. Sure, why not dole out 18% wage increase, have smaller classes and have more funding for special needs – where do you get the idea the money trough is overflowing for teachers? Give them a reasonable increase in keeping with other public sector employees (6%) and hire less expenses EA’s to deal with class composition issues. It’s really not rocket science!

      • The movement is so small it’s meaningless.

        The VP of the BCTF said the classes size are fine except for those with more than 35 kids like gym and band.

        WIth the agreement with support workers the government has already added money to special needs and have stated the have more for the BCTF. It’s just the wages that are so out of line with the rest of the agreements that’s the problem.

      • Oh brother. Who doesn’t want small classes, more special needs funding and well funded classrooms? I want a lot of things I can’t have right now. Surely these need to be goals – not demands.

  3. My prediction for a settlement to this dispute:
    Term – 5 years
    Wages – 10.5% total (2,2,2.5,2,2)
    CS&C – Gov’t abandons their appeal. Directs Trustees, Principals and Teachers to come up with a workable solution.

    Teachers – drop COLA request and increases to prep time
    Gov’t – drop all concessions

    • To bad our “democracy” does not allow the above to be put on a binding referendum. It represents what many feel to be the sane solution and a means to separate the “children” fighting in the sandbox for another 5 years.
      Still, with 2% in the first year my 5 year old grandson’s kindergarten teacher would receive salary+benefit of $107,000 for a class of 18.

          • You do math like Fassbender. Where does he get this 19% increase in wage demand?

            Teachers pay for their benefits and pensions they are deducted from their pay.

            Back up your $107 K figure with facts!

        • You do know that you can look up the salary of public employees. My child’s teacher makes 84,500, add to that around 13,000 from the taxpayer for pension contributions and around 18,000 for benefits that comes to more than 116,000. No, that’s the salary, benefits and pension that has been negotiated and that’s fine. The problem is in asking for so much more than the other unions have settled for (as a percentage). With the current 14.75 from the BCTF that would take this teacher to just under 97,000 per year with a taxpayer pension contribution of 15,500 per year.

          Now that teacher’s been around awhile. The average teacher makes 72,000 (BCTF numbers) and gets 11500 taxpayer pension.
          The new average wage would be 82600 and the taxpayer pension contribution would be 13,200. Just take the teachers that voted that more than 350 million a year in increased salaries and 56 million in increased taxpayer pension contributions. It does add up, that’s 1.6 billion over four year and not one more teacher in the class room or one more special needs assistant. And those number don’t include the shifts the BCTF want made in the salary grids

          • So really your child’s teacher really only makes $71,500 because they lose (are deducted) around $13,000 because they pay into the teacher’s pension plan. Other deductions include: medical, dental, long term disability, life insurance etc. Not everyone can claim these as tax deductions like a private sector worker can.

            You can go on and on about the pension plan all you want but it is funded by the teachers themselves and by investment returns. The investment returns pay for roughly 80 per cent of the benefits paid to retired members. Contributions from employees and employers make up the rest.

            In the private sector the employer pays for the entire pension.

          • Ron, just so things are clear for you Teachers don’t “lose” that $13,000.00 from their paycheck. It goes into their “savings account” called a pension. They can also claim it each year on their taxes as a contribution to a RRSP and receive about 33% of it back as a tax refund.

    • @Dwight-

      Perhaps a solution except it is totally one-sided. How about each side presenting its Final Offer to be decided by binding arbitration?

      At least you’re starting to come around. Now, all you need to do is take the next step and you’ll be in line with my proposal first advanced on April 17th.

      It is stupid to suggest the government present a final offer. If that is the case, it should have the balls anf simply include that in a legislated contract.

      But that is what you always had in mind anyways.

      I believe in fair bargaining to be decided by an arbitrator when the parties cannot agree. The arbitrator can pick one final Offer.

  4. A ‘Fair Deal’? Are you kidding me?
    Teachers have no idea how good they have it. Adjusted for normal full-time hours, the top bracket is making over $100k, with full benefits & fat pension, no accountability, and ultimate job security.
    Teachers do not pay taxes in real terms… because they are paid from taxes. Easy to cry for more when you’re not on the hook for any of it. Hold kids ransom to get easier working conditions? Why not.
    If teachers want more, then we the people paying for it should have the right to hire the good ones, and fire the bad ones… as happens in any respectable profession.
    Mr Fassbender, please give nothing more without comprehensive accountability requirements. THAT would be a ‘Fair Deal’.

    • Blah Blah Blah…Where have you been Graham…??? We’ve all heard this arguement s about a million times…Please tell me you have something original to add to this thread…Go back to your crossword puzzle or Matlock marathon…. You’re boring us with this ….

      • You know, Dave, if my child had the bad luck to get you for a Teacher I’d have him/her removed from your class so fast all you’d see was a vapour trail. You are such a prime example of arrogance blended with a feeling of entitlement.

    • Where do you get $100 K from? Let me help you here is the salary grid below. (Cat 6+ is for a Master’s Degree or PhD is $81,000 and that’s it, with no chance of overtime, or holiday pay, or time and half, etc.)

      http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/documents/39-SalaryGrid2010.pdf

      Where do you get the idea that teacher’s benefits are paid for?
      Teacher’s pay for there “full benefits”, them come right off the pay check (as deductions) including: Teacher’s pension, Life insurance, extended health, Dental and SIP/LTD.

      Don’t talk about teacher’s not paying taxes! It’s the “self employed” (in the private sector) that get all the tax breaks.

      My Wife works in the PRIVATE sector and has FULL BENEFITS paid for (no deductions) our kids are on her plan, she pays less tax because she has tax deductions, gets bonuses every year, has a company car paid for, and gets a pension.

      The grass is not greener on the other side.

      • The taxpayer puts in 16% of your salary into your pension. That’s on top of your salary.

        And you kids are on both of your plans, You should really read up on the benefits plan teachers have.

        And that 16% from the taxpayer added to your contribution is why the average age for a teacher to retire is 58 (BCTF, Teachers Pension Plan).

      • Teachers work 186 days a year. Simple ratio compared to a 245-day work year like most everyone else. That $81K/year translates to over $435/day. Not too shabby eh?

        Where do I get the idea that teacher’s benefits are paid for? Guess you’re not a math teacher.
        Teachers are paid from taxes, so figure it out…
        1. Any pension contributions you make are essentially made with tax dollars
        2. Any employer contributions are made with tax dollars

        Glad to hear your wife is doing so well.

        Excuse me… I’m a small business person and have to continue with my 60-hour work week… baby needs free massage treatments.

        • Graham and Dave:
          I am a tax accountant. Graham is a small businessman. He is right on the money. Congratulations on your wife’s nice job, Dave. She is amoung the few, not the many. We’d all like a job like that. Chances are though that she is doing the work of a more expensive person for less money.

          My brother is a CEO. Has been for 20 years. His salary is slightly over 100k. At the moment , in the current economic conditions he is taking a 2/3 cut in pay. The planet is in a state of flux. this is not the time to be belly aching and looking for higher wages, when you are already overpaid. Let the rest of the world catch up. Please!

          On another note, teachers are paid from general tax revenues. Parents get child tax benefits. Parents actually pay less for the education system than adults with no kids. If a parent doesn’t want to send his child to this type of school, he or she has no choice but to pay his/her share of public schools and whatever fees for private school. We need to make the education system accountable to the people and we need to change the way we pay for it. The funds available should be on a per capita basis(which would change with annual enrollment). There should be extra taxes for parents with kids in school, which they can opt out of if they wish their child to be in a private institution.

          Graham is right on another front. It should be possible to fire a teacher for non performance or non productivity issues. alternatively less wages to adjust for “that type of job security”.

          I , like Graham, must sign off as I have to go back to my 60 hours to earn about 5K per month. There are very bright accountants who get to charge very high rates. I am not one.

  5. If this was really just about the kids, the teachers would accept the increase in pay being offered, and deal more with the classroom issues they say are more important. No where in the reporting is there much mention of some of the benefit increases demanded by teachers over and above the wage increase. Again, if it is about the kids, these should be dropped.

    This is not about the kids. It is about who runs the education system-teachers or government. The only long term solution to this is to offer parents a higher percentage of the per capita money spent on education, so they can apply this to private education at schools of their choice. Many people have lost confidence in the public education system and this current dispute just confirms why.

    Anyone have any ideas where government is to get the extra money for this-plus the extra money needed for increased health care, and all the other services that are “underfunded”? We are talking hundreds of millions here.

    • Well it’s about a fair deal.

      Teacher’s have not had a raise in 4 years and class sizes have gone up and funding has gone down. Everyone keeps talking about comparing us to other “public sector unions” but we are not the same. They all got raises over the last 4 years. They do not do the same job that teachers do. What other public sector unions take work home, spend hours preparing for lectures, and volunteer for free?

      BC teachers have done a good job (provincial rankings) considering the lack of funding, larger class sizes and kids with special needs. Shouldn’t the government reward the teachers for that? NO they have to strike, get locked out, be deducted wages and in the end, pay for their own raise. I ask you how is that fair?

  6. One thing I’ve learned in my life about public administration is a public system needs less administration the more functional it is. My bet is the school system (indeed the entire government apparatus) will remain as dysfunction as possible. One read of the province’s 2013 ‘white paper’ on education, and you’ll come away thinking the government’s planners require the world to be flat, market forces abandoned and freedom of speech silenced. It’s the kind of world that believes we can supply natural gas to Asia more efficiently than Asians can with pipelines from Asia. Where a retired police officer from Langley on the public purse morphs somehow into a global energy chieftain. Government is a total fantasy world. These people could not make a 10 minutes in the real world. Keep law enforcement, fire the works of them.

  7. Fastbender and Clark are rubbing rubbing their hands in glee. Until now, the treasury was bare but thanks to the strike vote, BCTF and CUPE are going to help them out by donating 140 million/ week in salaries. If we can trust the BCTF to pull the pin next Monday the government will have almost 300 million dollars to pump into special needs that will appease the public before legislating the BCTF back to work for the same increases given to CUPE.

        • It is what he told all of us, repeatedly and very publicly. I know you pay attention to all forms of media, so were you just not listening?

          Please, Dave – provide us with a list of his lies since you feel he is such a dishonest man.

          Teachers have way over played their hand.

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