Fassbender disappointed in latest BCTF demands

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Fassbender disappointed in latest BCTF demands

Education Minister Peter Fassbender says he is disappointed with the latest contract demands from the BCTF, and he says they have pushed the union further away from the affordability zone for public sector settlements.

He says they are twice as much as what other unions settled for, and on top of that the union wants hundreds of millions more each year in other contract demands.

He is referring to the BCTF’s demand for two, $225-million dollar funds – one to hire more teachers to improve class size and composition, and the other to improve health benefits, prep time, and professional development for teachers.

“And I can tell you when we finally got the full response from the BCTF on Wednesday and when we looked at the numbers and they had filled in the blanks that they’d had there before, it is unaffordable. It is well into the $2-billion range, that is not affordable for the taxpayers of British Columbia.”

Earlier this morning, the union announced it would like the dispute go to mediation, saying the past two days of contract talks have yielded no progress because of stonewalling from the government.

Fassbender isn’t saying yes or no to that request.


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  1. With the brilliant leadership of the ole hipster Iker . . . the teachers will pay for their own increase . . . which when all is said and done . . . will be in line with the other Public Sector Unions . . . . who by the way are all better paid than those of us in the private sector that pick up the Tax Bill !

  2. The BCTF has become a joke. 225 million to improve prep time, health benefits and professional development. 150 million just to sign the contract.

  3. Minister….thats what you get for breaking the law. A court has told you twice to deal with class size and composition. ..you didn’t. ..a court will say the same conclusion a 3rd time. Then you will have to spend millions to restore class size and pay for grievances early next year. If you can’t do it now….then maybe Christy and Liberals should be held responsible for the grievances. ..not taxpayers

    • Well in a sense the government did address the CS&CC issue by saying no. The issue of class size and class composition should NOT be hardwired into any labour agreement.
      You will note that in 1998, the Employer association at the time, along with the Ministry and other educational professionals refused to sign on to the inclusion of such in the Labour agreement. The NPD government of the time gave the BCTF a gift without providing any funds for such.

      • Stephen, you need to mention that when that agreement was signed teachers agreed to accept no wage increases in exchange for the class size and composition clauses. Your post is not complete factually and therefore misleading and unfair. You can well understand that giving up an increase in wages only to have your collective contract stripped of hard negotiated bargaining is in principle contrary to any reasonable sense of fairness.

  4. Why doesn’t he explain how the teachers are asking for more than other unions because, unlike the other unions, the BCTF was awarded redress by the BC Supreme Court for a decade of having their constitutional rights denied by his government? Why doesn’t he explain that, unlike with other unions, his government has asked the negotiator to include a clause in the agreement that states if they do not like the ruling of the Appeal Court in October them they can serve the BCTF notice that the contract will be terminated and a new round of bargaining will begin? It really doesn’t matter what else is on the table, that one concession alone is a deal breaker as no other union in the history if collective bargains has ever been asked to agree to give up all the gains they have made in decades of bargaining.

    • Wow! If I could fit all that into Twitter, I would retweet it. Well said, thank you :)
      Basically if we accept the offer as is, we are agreeing to deny our students extra funding for the next 5 years. Rock (classrooms) Hardplace

    • Over the last TWO decades . . . the union folks that work and bargain in the REAL WORLD . . .

      Lost their Sick Days . . .
      Pay for 50% of their Pension today, if they are lucky enough to have one . . .
      Pay increased amounts for extended health . . .
      and in the 90s took substantial wage cuts . . .

      But the Teachers soldier on . . . never giving up a thing . . . just expecting more and more out of the hapless tax payer.
      All this while public education has been in Decline for decades . . . and teachers today don’t even work HALF a year.
      What other profession can you work in all your life till retirement, never have your abilities tested or questioned and skate happily to a mostly Taxpayer Funded Retirement?

      • Dale,
        Neither one of us in in the real world – Afghanistan, Syria, the Ukraine are the real world. Not sure you can say the teachers never give up anything. Teachers have been at 0 % for the past two years. I guess you could say that is not giving up anything, then I would have to agree with you. Has public education been in decline for decades? In what way? I would agree that since 2002, some aspects of public education have declined – support for special needs students, for example. The government, whom you are making a case for, believes that public education, presently, is fine. They have produced statistics to back this claim up (increased graduation rate as an example). The tax payer does pay for increased wages, does that mean never get a raise? As for the working only half a year – that is not even close to being accurate. Sure, teachers do get summers, spring and Christmas holidays, but that does not add up to half a year. That is just silly. Private schools, by the way, get more time off and they never seem to get criticized (the public does pay for 50% of the private school funding). With regards to never having abilities tested – never is a stretch. Sure, formal evaluations are seldom, but when teachers do not meet expectations (incidentally, there is dead weight in every occupation), there is a process for bringing teachers up to speed. As for the mostly tax payer funded pensions, I don’t know what the ratio is for teacher pensions, but are you fine with the pensions, and other compensations for that matter, of our MLAs? Here is the thing Dale, and I mean this respectfully, if it were simply about the wage increase, teachers would be standing in front of kids as I write this note. It has so much more to do with the cost of class size and class composition. That is expensive! The public, in the end, must decide if having thirty kids in a secondary class, along with an unlimited number of kids with learning and other disabilities is wise. I contend that it is better for my kid if the classes were marginally smaller and limited to only a number of special needs students so that the needs of my kid and his peers can be met. If that costs me an extra thousand bucks a year – I am good with it!

        • Comparing fire fighters’ and RCMP pensions to teachers’ pensions is like comparing apples to oranges. The cops compensation is truly a golden parachute. That too just goes to show our upside-down priorities!

        • Rick . . . teachers work 180 days a year . . . that is less than half according to my math.

          There are certainly many issues in play . . . but throwing more money at a broken system never fixed anything.

          When we came here from Alberta in 1975, my oldest was in Grade 4 . . . the teachers said he Read at a grade 8 level . . . I was taken aback and wondered what is going on here?
          My youngest went school a decade and a half later . . . he attended a Private School, cost me a couple of new cars, but today he is light years ahead of the pack.

          • I guess, if you include two days off per week, but who doesn’t get at least 104 days off – if you go 2 X 52 weeks? In that case, almost everyone works only 261 days, before holidays. I still do not know which part of the system is broken, other than issues related to what teachers want addressed.

    • @David-Hopefully, the BCTF salary increase and benefit demands reflect common strategy in normal bargaining and will be reduced during the bargaining process. But that is highly unlikely. But what we are seeing is not normal bargaining-far from it.

      I think the BCTF has to read Fassbender’s lips and focus on every word rolling off his tongue. Salary and benefit increases that exceed what other public sectors received are off the table (Full Stop).

      Do not take his willingness to sit at the table as a commitment to negotiate upwards from that position-even ever so slightly. What he has said consistently is that the government will be at the table whenever the BCTF is willing to and forwards a new proposal. ” Will be at the table” only means that the government will be there physically-not necessarily negotiate. If we are to believe Iker’s version of last weekend’s sessions, Fassbender was doing exactly that-staying at the table.

      Going forward it may be wise for the BCTF to reassess its position (demands) and come out of these negotiations with the best outcome pending the is nego

      It looks like I am wrong to suggest that the government will legislate the teachers back to work as Fassbender and Clark have essentially ruled out that option-at this time.

      If no agreement is reached by end of June, the BCTF will be hung out to dry for disrupting child education at year-round schools and summer school. The government has stated those decisions are up to the BCTF.

      The BCTF has only one hope-that the judical system will rule in favour of the BCTF and order all or part of the CS and CC language and terms to be restored as requested by the union.

      It may be a long summer…..

  5. If the government loses the appeal, regarding its appeal of class size and composition and all they were ordered to do in restoring funding,they will pay even more and will the BCTF take it in installments or a one lump sum! Seems no one is talking about that scenario of what the Government was ordered to do and then hide in the courts that the Liberals love to do so well at taxpayers expense.

      • Dale, if you knew all the facts you would that despite the appeal and likely final appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, a precedent has been set. Contract stripping from 2002 was proven in the SCofC by HEU. The gov’t knows they will eventually lose the legal battle, hence the venom with which they are attacking these “negotiations”. The BCTF’s position is called bargaining posture and leaves room for changes and reductions (as shown by several moves already [although where the $5000 bonus came from I have no idea]). The Liberals view of negotiations is to stonewall misrepresent and dodge. While the BCTF strategy leaves much to be desired at least it is negotiating. Two final points: 1) Teachers would love to have the LRB’s version of class size upheld. It stated a supervision ratio of one to 25 students. Ask teachers that is a ratio for their classes they would love. 2) Just my odd idea but teachers were locked and then told they were not doing their full job so they were docked 10%. Fair enough if it is a two way street. Since schools are closed early and no records and marks are in the system the entire Ministry of Education from Minister Fassbender on down should be docked 10% as they cannot be doing their full job with the schools closed. Seems right to me. Be sure you understand the precedents and where the court case will finalize. The Liberals will lose and have to find the money, it would be far more cost effective to negotiate a reasonable agreement now while in appeal as opposed to wait until all legal means are done and they have no choice. Facts are facts, just as the case is being appealed so the decision is stayed, precedent says they will lose so clear it up now.

    • Wrong, the NDP never did allocate any funding for the CS&CC issue, they forgot about that detail. Secondly the Court did not order any financial damages to the BCTF. Further if any damages were to be levied, such would not be retroactive prior to 2007. Perhaps you might want to read the actual Court decisions on the matter.

  6. British Columbians elected a government that had legal baggage. Liberals were found in a 2011 Supreme Court decision to have violated the Charter Rights of 40,000 British Columbians. The judge gave them 1 year to address the repercussions of her decision. The Liberals response was to pass similar invalid and unconstitutional legislation and to sham bargain in bad faith [additional judge's finding February 2014 follow up decision].

    The Liberals need to weigh the costs of breaking the law twice and paying for it later in October at the Supreme Court of Appeal versus negotiating a “good faith” remedy for their unlawful behaviour now. One way or the other, it will be BC taxpayers paying for Liberal legal blunders and endless delayed justice for teachers.

  7. The other day a teacher on CKNW said the teachers at the high end of the pay scale make $70,000 a year. He said it as if it wasn’t much. I’d like to say that the $70,000 is for 10 months work and is the base salary without benefits being factored in. I don’t think the teachers are winning over any average citizens.

  8. Let me begin by telling you that what this “Liberal” government seems to be trying to implement is a two-tiered education system–one for the wealthy “elite ruling class,” and one for the serfs–the “working” class.
    Public education is the greatest investment any society can make. When citizens are properly educated the economy will be strong. The trouble is, our governments have never seen our citizens as the greatest resource. We’ve always lived like a banana republic, off the profits of natural resources. Now the bottom has fallen out of our resources market and we’re in deep trouble. (Who is responsible for unaffordable housing and sky-high gas prices? The blame must be placed precisely where it belongs: on those elected to look out for our best interests–government!)
    I’ve never been a strong union supporter, and I do not support all the demands our union is making. But I will say this Dale, if you had to do my job you’d crap your pants. You would not last one week. I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my day. I’ve packed a 35# chainsaw through chest-deep snow, and set chokers in the same. I’ve been struck by trees, and battled bugs while slogging through knee-deep mud in landings all in the name of survival. I’ve built roads, hauled logs, and repaired vehicles and equipment, yet teaching–and I have been doing it for twenty years–is far and away more taxing and difficult.
    You see Dale, one of the subjects I teach is Automotive. It has often been claimed the shops are a “dumping ground” for students who cannot handle the more academic classes. I deal with the youth of a failing society who are unable to cope with the demands of an unforgiving world. They come with myriad problems, psychological, behavioural, sociopathic, drug, self-discipline, educational, violence, criminal, and the list goes on (my colleagues in the academic stream also see much of this, perhaps not so concentrated in most cases). My greatest reward is when some of those students come back even years later to tell me how I positively impacted their lives. As an aside, the majority of teachers leave the profession within five years, largely due to the aforementioned working conditions.
    As an Automotive teacher I’m responsible not only for educating the students, but also their safety. If I take in vehicles for the students to work on for experience I become an accountant responsible for accounts payable and receivable. I am responsible for much of the maintenance of equipment in the shop as I cannot wait for someone to be sent out. On top of that I have course planning, marking and evaluation, and program development and personal upgrading.
    As for my salary Dale, 40% (yes, forty per cent) of it is gone before I see a dime (pensions, income taxes, and other deductions). I have inquired about getting out of the pension plan; however, once vested one is stuck with it until retirement or termination. So don’t tell me teachers salaries are lucrative. Don’t tell me the vast majority of us don’t work for what we earn (I haven’t even brought up clubs and coaching, all of which has been provided essentially “free” on our own time).
    So before you (and the likes of our Premier), “open your mouth” to spew vitriol and untruths, walk a mile in my shoes!

    • You’re not the only one who works hard, is responsible for other people. That’s what the bctf wants everyone to believe. There are hundreds of thousands of small business owners in this province who struggle everyday to earn a living, make payroll for their staff. When times are tough they have to work harder, more hours, learn how to do everything in their business, ap, ar, as well as advertising anything and everything to do with running a business. They don’t get to schedule time off, they can’t take sick days and get paid, extended benefits they have to pay 100%, pension, if they have money left over maybe they can get a small rrsp. None of these business owners are guaranteed an income, unlike all public sector workers. As for clubs, sports activities, these same people find time to squeeze in to coach kids also.

      You commented about the down turn in resource activity, well put the blame squarely where it belongs in this province, the ndp. They are always leading the cry for no mining, no forestry, no lng, no pipelines, no anything that may stimulate our economy. The HST was designed to help business re-invest in the economy, especially small business. Every public sector union, led by cupe and the bctf, rallied to vote this down because “we don’t want to pay anymore taxes”, but expecting to be paid by tax dollars.

      A lot of other people work very hard in this province, do not have any guarantees, and make no where near what teachers do or have the benefits, but all I ever hear is how bad off the teachers have it. If you don’t like your job in this province you’re free to move to one where you feel more appreciated, but I have a feeling most are getting tired of bctf’s rhetoric.

      • You completely miss my point Ray. But then people only believe what they want to believe anyway, right or wrong. That said, the whole world system is broken and the only solution we know is complete destruction–a world war–and that, if you follow world trends at all, is clearly what is coming. As the greatest statesman of our time, Sir Winston Churchill said, the farther back in history you look, the farther into the future you can see. According to Cambridge professor Margaret MacMillan we are living in the modern equivalent of 1914, the prelude to WWI. There are greater fish to be fried than Christy Clark and the BCTF.