UPDATES: BCTF and government continue negotiations

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk

The government and BC Teachers Federation have agreed to bargain all weekend in Vancouver in an effort to reach a deal.

BC Teachers Union President Jim Iker says he’s respecting the media black out and refusing to comment on progress, if any with the ongoing negotiations.

No one has been seen coming in and out of the discussions, except for food.

While a media blackout has been imposed, we do know the two sides are hunkered down in seperate rooms, with government negotiator Mark Brown going back and forth as they try to reach an agreement.

While there appeared to be no movement yesterday, a man who is part of the negotiations told CKNW they would be staying put until a deal is made.

If that doesn’t happen, teachers will go on a full-scale strike starting Tuesday.

Monday is set to be a “study session” with no classes and no picketing.

We will continue to bring you the very latest on this developing story.


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  1. Class size and composition is an easy fix to me, take the special needs kids out of mainstream classrooms and have them in their own classes with an exceptional support system, also take ESL students out as well until they get a basic grasp of the language !

    Feelings will be hurt but problem will be solved !

    • Which special needs? The one’s with fine motor skill issues, the one’s with dyslexia, the gifted students (they are classified as special needs), what about those that get straight As in math and science but struggle with english (cognitive issues). And there’s kids with Type 1 diabetes, they are classified as special needs.

      What about the ‘normal’ kids that haven’t been taught self discipline at home, should they go? They cause a great deal of problems within the class.

    • This comment makes no sense – if you had a child who had special needs, you would understand that segregation of these kids is a ridiculous idea. Seriously? This would be an evolutionary u turn. Dex, this is a joke right? If not, you have zero understanding of the needs students face.

      • Rick, sorry it does make sense – it makes a lot of sense. Inclusion is the direct cause of classroom disruption and the cause of teacher frustration and student learning. We cannot afford the luxury of inclusion, so we have to find another alternative. Classrooms with specialized teachers and EA’s and visits to regular classrooms is a reasonable and economical alternative.

      • @Rick, this is absolutely not a joke, this is what needs to be done !

        It would be the best solution for everyone ! … I really don’t see how you can argue this point ?

        I am not suggesting it like a punishment to special needs kids, it would be a way better learning environment for all involved !

        Your attitude is one of the biggest issues Rick because your are allowing your emotions to rule over your common sense ! … Yes feelings will be hurt but if you look at the facts and leave emotions out of it then this really is the best solution !

        • I think the best solution is to remove the ‘normal’ kids than cause distruptions and don’t put the effort in. They have no chance to succeed anyway, let’s give them a place to stay where they won’t cause any problems for the other students. You won’t even have to staff it with teachers, just guardians that make sure no one gets hurt. And most of their parents won’t complain given they don’y have any interest in the kids lives anyway. Think of the savings.

  2. I am very surpirised but delighted that the two parties are still in negotiations given the apparent prevailing toxic climate.

    But I also offer the following:

    Here is the direct quote from a recent post directed to me:

    “What I did say (still paying attention?) was the cost to the average tax payer of what the teachers want is $1000.”

    And my reponse followes:

    Translated, he/she is saying that the cost of what the teachers want (in salary increases and benefit improvements) is $1000 per ‘average taxpayer’ or ‘per individual taxpayer’ (my words). I suggest that those two terms are synonymous. I have estimated that there are more than 2,931,000 taxpayers in BC. Using his figures, I computed the total incremental cost to all tax payers collectively (the BC treasury).

    Do the math:

    ($1000) times (2,931,000 taxpayers) = $2.931 billion total cost to all taxpayers collectively.
    If the $1000 cost figure is reliable, the incremental cost to all taxpayers collectively (the BC treasury) is $2.931 billion to satisfy BCTF demands for salary increases and benefit improvements. That $2.931 billion is more than what the BCTF members receive in salaries and benefits receive today- and represents a demand of more than a 100 percent increase. I believe some have calculated the BCTF demands in the range of 10-20 percent.

    Accordingly, his/her assumptions regarding the cost impact of teacher demands on the average taxpayer should be viewed as highly unrealistic as analyzed.

    • Peter Cameron says that to meet the teacher demands, the dollar amount was $1100 per taxpayer… I figure 2.6m taxpayers for a total cost of $2.86b. Divide that among 41000 BCTFers, and you get $69k/each, which is about right for an average.

      Now… this this isn’t a cost of *increased* wages demands — it includes the pre-existing costs. If you unravel the 13.5% BCTF wage demand, the 2013 cost of a teacher was $970 (1100/1.135) per taxpayer. The gov’t offer is 6.5% for a purported per-taxpayer cost of $1033 (970*1.065).

      The disparity right now, then, in this dispute, is a difference of $1100-1033 = $67 per taxpayer per year (in the final term of the agreement).

      That $67 is a lot cheaper that what parents are fronting in extra childcare costs right now. Just sayin’.

      • Actually the cost that you are not including is for decreased class size = more classes, more ESL teachers, more special needs teachers and teacher librarians at 2002 levels. I agree its not cheep except as a news sound bite to frighten those not in the loop. The BCTF has said that these are negotiable unless it gets back to court and the BCTF wins again. This cost was also calculated over the length of the deal. Listen carefully and Factbender never says per year.
        What I want to know is why no one is upset that they have taken that much out of education for the past 12 years

      • @Bruce-
        ‘The ‘cost/taxpayer’ may be defined to include pre-existing costs as well as all salary and benefit increase proposals as you say.

        I prefer to define ‘cost/taxpayer’ as the incremental cost of paying for demands for additional salary and new or increased benefits. That will explain the difference between your analysis and mine. It is strictly a matter of defining demand. Since that poster’s comment was so equivocal, I had the “license” to apply any definition of cost/taxpayer as I saw deemed fit. Accordingly, my math is correct.

        IMO, in a negotiating context, it is more logical to define settlement cost as the incremental cost of agreeing to new contract terms. Pre-existing costs are already known. Going forward, agreed-upon pre-existing salary and benefit costs have no further additional impact on the taxpayers’ pocket or the provincial budget-of course, contracts may often call for certain items which cost more in succeeding years.

        When I was at the bargaining table, we only discussed incremental costs with the union because those are much easier to wrap one’s head around. There is more clarity when the wheat is separated from the chafe. The issue of total cost was not regarded as a concern of the union as such information might be useful to them and our competitors.

        Cameron, to no surprise, employed a common self-serving strategy of presenting numbers in a manner publically to achieve maximum effect. It is like saying LNG will create a $100 billion heritage fund-in the face of enormous uncertainty.

        If people buy it, you wil get away with it-and Cameron, obviously, has.

        • “Cameron, who represents the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, said teachers’ demands would cost each taxpayer roughly $1,100.” (these are not BCTF words, these are the reported words in a local media article).

          @insite: That’s the number I used… and I worked from that… not sure how I’m altering the cost-per-taxpayer definition by using that number THAT HE GAVE.

          @Kirby: Again, have that discussion with Cameron about what he meant. If he meant it for maximum effect, then that amount is likely as large as it can be. So that’s what I went with.

    • Wow! Really?

      I don’t know where to start …

      Perhaps not your fault given that the post had been sent to you, but perhaps some better research on your part would have avoided the humiliation of your math fail.

      The statistic being quoted is that the average per student funding is $1000 below the Canadian average. This number comes from Statistics Canada and is irrefutable. (see http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-595-m/2013099/c-g/c-g19.1.1-eng.htm) BC is not only $1000 behind the Canadian average, but even further behind such “have” provinces as Manitoba and Newfoudland. Thankfully we are still ahead of PEI, making BC only the second-worst province in per student funding. At least we were in 2011, so maybe we do have the lowest funding now …

      Did I mention that was per STUDENT funding. NOT per taxpayer.

      So, if the BC government were to fund students in this province to the Canadian (or Saskatchewan, take your pick) average, here is the math:

      $1000 per STUDENT times 550,000 K-12 students in the province = $550 million, right?

      Divide, not multiply, that number by the number of taxpayers in the province, which by your own figures is 2.931 million of us, means it would cost each taxpayer an additional $187.65 to improve education to the amount that the teachers are suggesting.

      All I know (besides math) is that students in this province are being short-changed. Worse still, people like you have bought in to the economic argument that this province has been espousing for years.

      Are my wife and I willing to spend $375 more per year per household, that is $1.03 per day (only $1.025 per day in 2016 – it will be a leap year), to improve the education of our daughters? Of course we would! That would be less than a cup of coffee! That is less than anything I can think of buying – oh, except Sesame Snaps.

      This dispute has become so polarized in this province. It does not help when people such as insite try to rationalize a certain perspective with faulty arguments.

      At best, insite, your post equates to mathematical incompetence.

      At worst, it is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public with inaccurate information for partisan gains.

      Go back to school!

      Oh and one last stat for all of you who think teachers in this province are overpaid:

      • I love this analysis.

        The one difficulty I have with it is this… The $550m number you’re coming up with is additional funding for the ENTIRE system… as that’s how it’s dealt with — teachers salaries PLUS admin salaries, support worker salaries, secretaries, custodians, heat, light, maintenance, capital (physical plant) costs, books, supplies, technology… and on the list goes.

        To attribute that final $187.65 as an amount that “teachers are suggesting” somehow implies that that is money directed specifically to teachers.

        It isn’t.

      • @J-

        I’m getting it from both sides of this issue so I take every dissenting comment with a grain of salt.

        Let me categorically state the I am in favour of giving teachers a fair wage taking into account wages paid elsewhere.

        I was challenging the notion and did not agree that pre-existings costs should be included as the cost of settling this contract. To include pre-existing costs is VERY misleading.

        The relevant costs of settling this contract are the incremental costs only. Please reread my original post and response to @ Bruce.

        Having said that, I’m pleased my posts generate much needed discussion whatever the perspectives offered. We all need to keep an open mind.

        • @insite If Cameron was trying to gain maximum effect to show how “outrageous” teacher’s demands are, would he not include the largest number possible (ie. including pre-existing costs). Why would he NOT do that?

          If it’s the case that Cameron’s just quoting incremental costs, then I think I’ve shown that teachers are asking for doubling of their wages… which is absolutely ridiculous.

          • As for your question, that is exactly what he did-include pre-existing costs-in his numbers to create the sense that BCTF demands were unreasonable and outrageous.

            The point is that if Cameron was quoting incremental costs, he tossed out the $1000/taxpayer cost ntentionally. If I were in his shoes, I would have done exactly what he did. But I just happen to not agree with his methodology or his numbers as they are misleading.

            And your last comment would appear to suggest that you are agreeing with what I was attempting to put across in all my posts.Exactly, the $2.931 billion does not represent the cost of new/additional demands. Cameron included pre-existing costs to make it appear that the increase in wages and benefits would essentially double current wages and benefits. A far cry from the 10-20 percentage increases quoted elsewhere.

            It is a relief to learn that there are people like you who are able to think issues through to separate the wheat from the chafe. And you did so without being judgmental. Thank you.

            Sadly sothers are seduced by big numbers designed to win their hearts. Words are often deliberately chosen to to ellicit a strong emotional response. I can attest to that judging form the responses I receive. But I make no apology.

            Of course, one has to be naive to not recognize that Cameron, as a professional negotiator, is very good at articulatng his arguments to achieve maximum effect (PR-wise). That is not meant as a criticism but as an acknowledgement of his ability. He does not need anyone to defend him. He is not trying to convince the BCTF. He only wants to win. He wants to influence public opinion with his pronouncements. He is doing what he is paid to do and he is doing it very well.

            But nothing compels me or anyone else to agree with him in our democracy. I think he understands that.

      • Wow. Another poor ignorant comment. Your full of them aren’t you? Why don’t you go write another essay so no one can bother listening to you.

        As for the blackout, it’s the sides not talking to the media. I guess your lack of insight is truly starting to show. Now go leave.

  3. It’s obviously the premier doesn’t care about my daughter’s education or her scholarships. Her Grade 12 year is already ruined. Why would the govt compromise? So when she’s offered a lucrative job outside the province in a few years, my advice will be the same: Why compromise? Look after yourself. B.C. wouldnt invest in you or your brother why should you in them ?

    • There are two sides here, Mike. One side, the employer or the government (however one views it) and the other, the employee. One side has settled with many other unions with reasonable wage increases etc. The other is demanding more than the others. One side was able to reach a settlement in 5 days. The other is only willing to reach a settlement if more cash is brought to the table. So, who’s fault is this? You can argue that the blame must be shared. And it should!

      As for your daughter finding a lucrative career outside BC. “The province doesn’t own her anything” should not be a reason to accept nor should “I need to give back to my province” be a reason to turn it down. You do what’s right for your career, family and future, that’s why you accept or decline. Don’t try to put that on the government. Those decisions you accept the responsibility for.

      • @commonsense-

        You sometimes appear to be very thoughful until you throw in a comment that reveals your true colours. Furthermore, you are so naive.

        Your problem is that you approach this government-BCTF war in the context of your values alone. You do not understand the nuances of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is not about who is right. It is about negotiating the best possible deal for your congregation or . constituents. If either party believes the other party is unreasonable , has a choice and each party has specific tools to exert presuure on the other side.

        It seems you are bringing moral issues, possibly based on your religious beliefs, into play. But you know what? in the final analysis, moral issues are irrelevant provided the parties conduct themselves within the law. No agreemnet that contravenes the law is enforeable.

        Now do you know which party has been ruled as not operating within the law? funny, you don’t acknowledge that as an impediment to a successful negotiation-do you?

        I do not believe the BCTF or anyone should be compelled to agree to a contract that is in contravention of the charter or prevailing law.

  4. Talk about a sense of entitlement!!!
    I find it astounding how we demand that education and health care come to us for FREE. You need to listen to yourself and think about what you are saying. I suppose if you don’t like the cost of education, you could move to the third world and try ignorance. We have lived there, and are happy to pay the taxes necessary to maintain the services we need. Take a look around..

    • So “Al”, if you were to walk into your local elementary school and visit each classroom as the teachers were busy working with their students, would you have the inclination or the gall to call them a greedy bloody teacher to their faces? No, you wouldn’t. First, because it’s easy to call names from your computer desk at home, but second and more importantly, it’s just NOT TRUE! Go see the great work that teachers do with their students every day before shooting your mouth off.