Fassbender optimistic BCTF has revised its demands

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Fassbender optimistic BCTF has revised its demands

Education Minister Peter Fassbender is responding to the BCTF’s move to a full-scale strike, as well as the recent Labour Relations Board ruling on exams and final marks.

Minister Peter Fassbender had promised students in Grade 10 through 12 would be able to write their exams and get final grades, not just the 10 through 12 Provincial exams.

He’s promising that’s still going to happen and staff are working on a plan to get that done.

As for the strike, Minister Fassbender says he’s buoyed by the union’s mention of a revised bargaining package and says he’s optimistic that if it comes to the table with a compromise then a deal before Tuesday may be in sight.

Fassbender has a message for parents and students, “I am profoundly sorry that you’re in the middle of all this. And quite honestly even to a lot of the teachers that no one wants this, but we have to break the cycle, we need to get to a negotiated settlement–that’s our commitment.”


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  1. fastspender is always optimistic.

    And there should have been binding arbitration. Many months ago. But snookums and her ilk don’t want anything to do with that. They would have to come clean.

    • You refer to him with a cute little nickname, yet he is the one trying to hold the line on outrageous cost demands from the BCTF and you are the one telling all that will listen that we should give away the farm to the BCTF. Name calling is small, B.

  2. Don’t get your hopes up, Minister. We have all seen what the BCTF regards as significant movement.

    Time to present a Final Offer. A long term deal (5-years or more), good until the end of June. No deal by then, let them stew over the summer, don’t waste your time trying to hammer out a deal as history has shown there is no deal to be had with the BCTF. Come September, legislate them back to work based on that Final Offer (without the $1200 signing bonus they could have received if they signed the deal by June 30).

    Enough is enough.

  3. “We need to get to a negotiated settlement”, so why keep running to the LRB? Essential but locked out. Double-talk. “The Americans are nowhere near Baghdad.” Are you sure about gravity, minister?

  4. So after 2, yes 2 strike votes the BCTF is shutting the system down, and that is after a “study session”?????? This grand standing has to stop. And that is all it is grand standing.

  5. Fassbender’s optimism does not necessarily translate into a commitment by the government to revise any of its contract demands. But I hope I am wrong and the government will indeed compromise to reach a settlement.

    Having said that, resolution of the current dispute only serves to kick the can further along the road.

    As I posted under an earlier story, binding arbitration with a “final offer” provision is the only way to prevent this circus from re-occurring. The other option available to the government is to impose its might which is hardly a desirable or acceptable solution in our democracy. But, who knows because those solutions, which have a lot of support, will require invoking of the Notwithstanding Clause or an appeal win. Take your pick.

    • Cristy Clark when she was Education Minister already tried to impose it’s might to kill the teachers union’s ability to have an input into their working conditions; and that is what has caused all the current problems. They will keep on appealing any decision by the courts so that they can dictate how the schools are run and put off having to pay the true costs of education the children of the province.

      • “…so they can dictate how the schools are run”? That IS the job of government – which includes appropriate funding in relation to their mandate and the economy of whole province! Under no circumstances is it the job of a self-serving poorly run union who can’t even fund their own fight.

        • The problem is they’ve handicapped themselves by refusing to entertain the idea of borrowing money (running a deficit) to enrich the learning conditions of students (not necessarily the pay of teachers). Pay the teachers a fair wage increase and borrow if you have to restore class size and composition. Post secondary students take out student loans every year and it’s probably the best investment they ever make. Wouldn’t a similar investment in k-12 students be one of the best investments the province could make? Think about what an educated, well payed work force brings back in tax dollars down the road vs. what you’re starting to see in the states.

          • When schools are in session kids are being educated. When the BCTF calls for a strike they don’t. A bigger debt load for the next generation to deal with will solve nothing. Creative thinking would go a lot further than a bag of money. That’s why I voted for a party that ran on fiscal responsibility. “Buy now, pay later” has never worked.

          • If there is any borrowing to do, I want that to go to healthcare plus fare reduction on the BC Ferries along with a reduction in energy costs(BCHYDRO)!

            Education is not on the radar as those programs are well funded now.

          • Ron_26
            They may have run on fiscal responsiblity, but they don’t know how to practice it. In case you haven’t noticed, they have run huge deficits. Even the Sauder School of Business rated NDP’s fiscal management as “moderately” better than the Liberals. Sadly , people are indoctrinated to think that conservative governments perform better economically, despite all evidence to the contrary. They spend just as much money, but on different things (prisons, military). And they gut the tax base to please small minded clowns who think of themselvers as taxpayers and not citizens.

          • “by refusing to entertain the idea of borrowing money (running a deficit) to enrich the learning conditions of students” ? ? ?

            The only ones that have been enriched are the Teachers . . . they have a benefit package that is almost 30 large a year now . . . and the want to add more benefits . . .
            If they want Ontario wages . . . go to Ontario and pay their inflated taxes and sky high electricity rates.
            The BCTF has been unable to get along with THREE Govts over the last 30 odd years . . . time to make union membership optional, eliminate seniority and have teacher evaluations every few years.

      • @ Norman:

        You are absolutely correct that It was Christy Clark who has created the present problem.You won’t get an argument from me.

        If you re-read my post, I am simply saying that if the government wants to exercise its might and “dictate how the schools can be run”(without teacher participation), it will have to win its appeal or invoke the Notwithstanding Clause in our constitution.

        Sadly, some posters such as Ron-26 and coherts, having closed minds, do not understand or accept that government is not above the law. Having said that, I provided the two options in my post (above) which will allow government to dictate as it pleases.

        • Actually, Insite, you are wrong as it was the Political whim of the BCNDP who started this, over ruling the recommendations of MED and the Government bargaining agency (both of whom refused to sign the deal). It was a gift to the BCTF knowing full well such was a poison pill.

          Class size and composition should never be hard wired into any labour education contract. Fact is the policies surrounding ‘inclusion’ into the classroom has been a magnificent failure and that is the issue than needs to be addressed.

          • @stephen

            Who introduced Bills 27 and 28 to strip teachers of their constitutional rights? Christy Clark. Stop blaming a government that isn’t even around.

            If you justify not apologizing for historic wrongs by saying a previous generation did it, then your blame of the NDP can be dismissed with the same argument.

            This is getting tiresome when that blame cannot be assigned to those who are still around. The court or courts certainly agree..

            So I agree you are wrong. Do you not agree as well?

          • Actually, Stephen, CS&C language was in collective agreements long before the deal you mention that was brokered by the NDP government.

            Even before bargaining changed to a provincial model, individual school boards bargained CS&C language with the teachers in the respective locals.

            Christy Clark as Min of Ed removed much more than the language you’re referring to.

          • Class size and composition speak to working conditions. Being able to bargain your working conditions is sacrosanct. Which is why the courts found the Liberals had broken the law.

    • Nope here are the people that are overpaid and they all got there raises under the BC Lying Liberals net zero mandate…

  6. My daughter is in Grade 12 and was advised last week by one of her science teachers that he was cancelling their final exam and they would not be writing it. (HUH?) This was BEFORE the LRB ruling and the strike vote. All very confusing for the students/parents at the schools. I have just sent a message to my daughter telling her to confirm with her principal and her teachers what exams will or will not be held at her school. I would hate for students to miss out on marks from a final exam because the exam was held, but the students were told there would not be one. The only people suffering right now are the STUDENTS.

    The teachers don’t really care (it is almost summer break time anyways for them). The gov’t doesn’t care, it is saving money the longer this goes on and does not really effect them, they are still claiming their salaries and the Premier’s son is nicely tucked away at a private school where he will complete all his required classes and exams for the year (so what does she really care, not having any effect upon her life). Jim Iker doesn’t care, he is pulling in his salary, while all his teachers will end up losing money, no effect on him either. So who is REALLY losing out??? The kids, that’s who.

    The teachers should be in the classroom NOW, finishing off the year and allowing the Grade 12 students to finish their high school careers in a more positive, productive fashion.

  7. Mr Fassbender, I am solidly behind the stands you, with the Premier and your government for the strong positions you have taken with the BCTF negotiations. If a responsible response from the union leads finally to a settlement, that would be great! Welcome news. However, if they stick to their outrageous self-serving demands and a will to dictate education policy, I fully support carrying on with their chosen striking position. Keep up the good work for the whole province.

  8. This makes no sense at all. Kids need to know NOW if they’re writing an exam on Monday or Tuesday for example. Saying we might have a deal by Tuesday does not help. So are they supposed to spend countless hours studying all weekend or not? Will exams happen or won’t they? They need to give clear answers to parents and kids and then NOT REVERSE THOSE ANSWERS no matter what happens. Or it simply isn’t fair.

    • There is no “bargaining” with the BCTF. There is only whining and hyperbole from a group that can’t get along with the Liberals, NDP, SoCreds or other unions. Quite a special bunch.

    • Funny little nicknames (well, that YOU think are funny) are getting tiresome…. I can’t tell you how many people have used this one. It’s getting a tad old.

  9. The Minister is putting forward a conciliatory tone, which is needed right now. I don’t care for the current Liberal Government, but they are in charge of education policy and spending and we need to respect that. Even if we don’t agree! I personally don’t like what’s going on in the classrooms, and hope more attention will be paid to addressing those real problems, but an educational budget is the responsibility of the government, not teachers and their union. That’s how democracy works. We elected them for exactly that reason.

    • Agreed, but in our democracy one also has the right to advocate for one’s working conditions. What is undemocratic about what teacher’s are fighting for? Don’t forget this government ignored constitutional law in a very undemocratic fashion. Whether we voted for them or not, that is something that can’t be overlooked.

      • I agree, to the extent class composition/size are working conditions, that issue needs discussion. It is a muddled area though. I thought it would be a good idea to delegate that problem to a committee composed of teachers, parents , legislators , and other professionals for some negotiated resolution independent of the wage / benefit issue.

    • @Garp-On balance you are correct that the government is in charge of and responsible for education policy. When that thought is offered by a person in the judical system and is a lawyer, layman can easily reach a wrong conclusion or be misled-case in point-the response below.

      But when the government unconstitutionally strips rights enshrined in the Constiution, I would not agree that the government necessarily deserves respect. At the very least, it deserves to be called out since the BC Supreme court determined that teachers have an enshrined charter right to negotiate their working conditions and so ordered that (pre-Bill 27 and 28) contract language along with attendant terms be restored.

      While I was neither a teacher or a lawyer, one thing I learned in my management theory courses is that good policy should stand the test of time-and now we can add the courts.

      • court – not courts. It was one court. And don’t over think the word “supreme” in the name Supreme Court of BC – because it is a misnomer. It is a lower court with oversight by the BC Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

        • @Don

          Just a misnomer. But that doesn’t detract from my arguments. Lawyer speak is always subject to mis-speak and nuances but you can’t manipulate mathematics as you do.

          A $1000 increase in salary will cost each taxpayer $1000 according to a fifth-grade math drop-out.

          • insight – you need to read more carefully. I have laid this out for you more than once. Pay attention this time. I did not say a $1000 increase to the teachers would cost each taxpayer $1000. What I did say (still paying attention?) was the cost to the average tax payer of what the teachers want is $1000.

            What I also said was in response to your silly assertion that if you just give teachers more money, that money will grow the economy because they will spend it. That is the Broken Window Theory of Economics. Again, pay attention…. in order to give teachers money, you have to take money from a taxpayer. If you take $1000 from me to give to a teacher to spend, there is no new money going into the economy (the teacher has more to spend, but I have less). That is the same for all public sector employees. Their wages do not grow the economy. Their value is in the services they provide.

            Hopefully this time you get it because it cannot be dummied down any further.

          • One other thing while I’m at it, insite. I am not of the generation where you could drop out of school in grade 5, or 8 or even grade 12. Perhaps you are.

            I am of the generation where a post secondary education and a designation or certification after that was the path to carving out a rewarding career. A career which I am about half-way through.

      • Insite, my views are my own personal views. They should not be viewed by anyone as a legal opinion or as an opinion shared by lawyers. In fact other lawyers post here with contrary views. I comment here because I want to bring forward perspectives which may help others to understand the factual and legal matrix in which (in my opinion ) this current dispute plays itself out.

        I personally value public education which is an obvious bias in my comments, but unlike some commentators I try to approach the teachers’ strike with an open mind and do change my views. Personally I believe the educational policy on funding for now is short sighted and that we will see the problems down the road.

        As to the current policy of funding, while you and I agree there should be more funding, the majority of citizens – who voted – have delegated policy decisions to the Liberals. In that context we are in a minority and can complain at the poles. Not much satisfaction there, but that’s all there is in a democracy. We can work to defeat the government.

        • @Garp

          Much needed clarification. For a while I feared that you had thrown in the towel.

          I, too, try to have an open mind,but will succumb to the temptation of responding-like-wise-to certain over-the-top comments.

    • No, we don’t need to respect that. Their education policies have been deemed ILLEGAL, TWICE, by the court system. And they are wasting more money on a fruitless appeal. And the reality is that teachers have the right to bargain their working conditions. And frankly, I trust their judgement regarding what is good for my child over a premier who has her kid in one of the most expensive private schools in the province (subsidized by Gov’t by the way), and who is a college dropout.

  10. By throwing the strike gauntlet Iker has painted himself into a corner so obviously he wants a face saving settlement. But what impetus does the government have to settle when Iker is clearly bargaining from his financial knees. The BCTF has already admitted their “war chest” is empty and under General Ike’s leadership they are mindlessly charging into a strike like Germans heading to Stalingrad. Their strike will enrich a cash starved government by a 140 million a week in unpaid teacher and CUPE salaries. Now that the LRB has designated final exams as essential services, a meth-addict has more teeth than the BCTF’s bargaining position. The radical leadership are rabid to have their muscle flexing contest, but unless they capitulate on their outrageous wage demands this weekend, Clark and Fassbender can just sit back and let them throw their hissy-fit for the last two weeks of school. Then dedicate the 280 million savings to address the special needs funding that the BCTF will have us believe, is more important than their 19% wage demand. Fassbender is clever so he will undoubtly throw Iker a couple of bones to sell to his members like increasing the signing bonus to $2000, reducing the term to 5 years, but holding salary increases to the CUPE settlement to avoid triggering “me too” clauses. Hopefully moderate minded teachers will see this as fair deal but if not, the government may have to borrow the NDP’s legislation cane, for a walk to the woodshed. At the end of the day, teachers get a “self-funded raise,” needy kids get additional help, all without shaking down the taxpayer. Most importantly, we won’t have to see this circus for another 5 years.

    • Iker is simply playing into the narrative that the government has no intention of bargaining in good faith. He’s playing the role to a tee. If the BCTF loses in the court of appeal and themselves appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Supreme Court will look unfavourably at the unheard of lockout of teachers and the completely unrealistic 10 year proposal, not to mention cabinet documents which apparently quote CC as saying force the teachers to strike.

  11. Please don’t give these over indulged teachers a signing bonus. Bargain tough. It doesn’t matter what you give them they will never be satisfied. It is hard to believe that with the mentality they have they are capable of teaching. They think they should be classed with Doctors and nurses. Please, when you can’t get into anything else in University there is always teaching.
    You won’t gain any votes by patronizing them. Remember, they are In the NDP camp.
    Ideally you should break this union. It happened in Wisconsin and everyone was better off.

  12. Funniest part of all the comments is people have forgotten that an impartial judge found Christy’s Liberals guilty of bad faith bargaining. What have Liberals exactly done in this negotiations to show the people of this province that they are actually bargaining. ..the onus was on the government to try and heal the relationship. …they were the ones that were guilty. There own documents which they have sealed and judge saw…proved this. If Liberals are that confident in the fair offer they have made…make it public.

    • Iker was asked today, during his press conference, about the “new offer” they were going to present. He refused to provide any details. So, when you call on one side to make their offer public (which, the government has), ask your union why they are not making their offer public.

      The relationship broke long before this government took office. The only constants are the BCTF and the teachers who just refuse to quit and find a better life outside the horribly, disrespectful, stressful, under paid and under valued public sector.

  13. Maybe Mr. Iker sees the importance of the moment and knows that in order to get something done over the weekend, this cannot play out in the media circus we have had to this point. The government is not releasing its potential movements at the table either. Finally some sense and respect for the bargaining process.