UPDATES: Meeting between mediator Vince Ready, BCTF and BCPSEA wraps up for the day

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

A three hour meeting aimed at taking teachers’ picket lines down by Tuesday ended today with a promise of more ‘exploratory’ discussions tomorrow.

“They’re going to meet with their respective committees.”

Mediator Vince Ready wouldn’t disclose any details about what was said when he talked to union leader Jim Iker and the government’s lead negotiator Peter Cameron in a small conference room at a hotel near the airport.

He says he needs more information to decide if enough progress has been made to start mediation… and hopefully get a deal done when most schools are slated to re-open Tuesday.

“It was a very candid exchange about the differences in their positions and they still are a long ways apart.”

Ready says the three men are slated to meet again some time in the afternoon at the same hotel.

When today’s meeting wrapped up, shortly after 5pm, Jim Iker didn’t talk to reporters, but Peter Cameron says there’s still hope picket lines could come down before Tuesday.

“Yes, of course, it is possible. Obviously, there’s some challenges involved logistically, but it’s possible. I’m not pessimistic. I’d say that much.”

Friday’s meeting will include the full BCTF and BCPSEA bargaining teams, but Iker has already indicated he has no plans to talk to media after it wraps up.

He’s asking Ready and Cameron to do the same.

Meanwhile, people heading into a meeting held by the Vancouver teachers’ unions earlier in the day said they aren’t pleased with the minister’s idea of two weeks to cool off.

“Cooling off? He’s been cooled off all summer. He’s not been willing to negotiate with us.”

“I think it’s a ploy by the government to relieve pressure on them. I think it’s a clear indication that what we have been doing has been contributing pressure to the government.”

As for whether they think school could start on time next week?

“I have no idea.”

“I would love to say I’m hopeful for that. Yesterday, Fassbender’s comments really kind of stuck in my craw.”

They say the “cooling off” proposal is a sign the province is feeling the pressure.

Tomorrow’s meeting will include the full BCTF and BCPSEA bargaining teams.

A BCTF spokesperson has sent out a statement saying Jim Iker will NOT be available for comment tomorrow.

The union is  asking Education Minister Peter Fassbender and Cameron to follow suite.

Comments

  1. Once the BCTF remove their gravy train demands including the signing bonus, more prep time on top of their existing 3 month holiday time, and more extended benefits on top of their existing excellent benefits, then the gong show can end and we can seriously mediate this deal. People talk about what teacher’s deserve, what other teachers in other Provinces make, and what other Professions make but those are arbitrary statement that have no meaning here in this place where tax dollars are limited and we have tens of thousands of unemployed certified teachers who would take these jobs as is now. Don’t get me wrong I think teachers deserve more and wish we had abundant tax dollars to just give them what they want and be done with it but then reality hits the fan and realize it is what it is. In hindsight the BCTF probably shouldn’t have opposed resource projects that would be brought in more tax dollars to the Province but details details.

      • I haven’t kept up with the Rob Ford news so I’m not sure what the reference is but I guess he enjoys the gravy train life too on Toronto tax dollars? Anyways in regards to the BCTF, when you have a group that has it great already and asks for more, what else but a gravy train status quo would you call it?

      • $3000 massage allowance per teacher per year, allowance for fertility drugs; free maternity/paternity leave, $5000 signing bonus, a total of 12.5% increase in basic demands; $250 million just because; $250 million for union determined class composition issues … yes I would call that ‘gravy train’ demands.

        • $3000 per year? Nice try. You’ve certainly bought into the Liberal / media misinformation campaign.

          And you have something against Maternity / Paternity leave? Even the Federal Government provides that for everyone in the country.

          Do try to become a bit more informed about the realities rather than regurgitate misinformation.

          BTW — many things will no doubt be negotatied away — once the Liberals actually come to the table ready to truly negotiate in good faith. So far all they have been doing is spouting misinformation through the media.

        • Give your head a shake, Stephen – find out exactly what they are asking for before spewing such garbage. People like you would be leading the strike parade if you were an educator….

          • I don’t have a clue what that last sentence means, but I find it interesting how so many say someone is “spewing garbage” yet offering NOTHING to prove them wrong.

    • Sammy, tell us how you really feel! Sammy boy, you fail to mention the real issue – class composition and the existing grievances against the government. As well, how about the two court cases the government lost? Do you think it is ok to simply tear up agreements? Where would this happen in the private sector? It is pretty tough to negotiate with your employer when your employer is the one who makes the laws. Sure, the tax dollars, as you say, are limited, so does that mean we simply do not fund education? The police, at least in my area, just got a 7% raise over three years and a retro check to follow. I, personally, think they deserve it but why are they not criticized? My friend who is a police officer works four on four off – that equals more than the three months you claim teachers get for holiday. Are you fine with that? His pension is much better than a teacher’s after the same time worked in the field – good with that? The best and brightest at ICBC are jacking up my rates, are you good with that? Another best and brightest are jacking up my hydro by 28%, are you not outraged by that? Gas is a buck and a half where I am, courtesy of your best and brightest – good with that? No, it’s the teachers who are draining the province! Don’t get me wrong, I think you are probably a nice person, just out to lunch!

      • Rick it is simple! First the Court simply said that the Government needs to negotiate with the Union; the Court did not specify any result of negotiations. Second, Governments are elected to manage programs and budgets, Labour unions are not. Third, the BCTF could care less about economics, the state of finances or other programs. Where do you suggest programs cuts to satisfy ‘gravy train’ demands of the BCTF to the tune of some $1.5 billion dollars?

        • Fair comment Steve, but the court ruling was scathing in its report on the government. It reprimanded the government for its underhanded dealings with the BCTF. Second, sure, they are in charge of managing budgets and so on (they seem to be ok with rewarding there own however), but that does not mean tear up contracts and agreements. If you did this in the private sector, which by the way some of you call the real world, you would be sued. Just because they are in charge of the budgets, it does not mean they can simply break the law and/or disregard the rights as guaranteed by the Charter. Thirdly, call it a gravy train if you like (by the way, the Premier spent 80,000 bucks traveling last year – you good with that?) but even if the three grand worth of therapeutic massage were provided (it’s not a Thai rub down we are talking about here Steve) not many teachers would take advantage of it. In any case, that is a throw away, and how many teachers really would be using fertility drugs? Come on! With regards to class composition, are you ok with having thirty kids in a class with any number of kids having learning disabilities? If you are, then you are insensitive or do not have a child with a learning disability. And, contrary to some views, yours obviously, working conditions are negotiable. In fact, class size was negotiated until the government simply tore up the agreement. Would you be ok if the government sent you a note informing you your pension was going to be cut in half? I think not! In any case Steve, you seem like a good person, but you simply are not up to speed.

      • Rick, firstly there are lot of holes in your arguments. Firstly I have no concern if Professionals in the private sector make a lot as that money is not from us. As a License Professional Engineer in the private sector I get paid based on my performance, not seniority. For the BCTF, asking for more is the easy part. It’s determining where the money comes from that’s hard. If I have $5 in my wallet and somebody asks me for $10, I’ll tell them I can only offer $5, if they then go on a long speech about why they deserve more then $5, that doesn’t change the fact that I only have $5. It is what it is. In simple terms this is what tax payers have been trying to tell the BCTF. I agree with you other public sector unions and crown corps also enjoy a gravy train but that doesn’t mean Teachers should also have one too. Seriously more wrongs don’t make a right. Not sure about you’re argument with the Police as they risk their lives catching criminals so it’s not comparable to Teachers. I do agree with you on BC Hydro. Anybody who has dealt with BC Hydro and compare them to other utilities like Fortis and Atco, , etc. it becomes obvious how slow, inefficient, and wasteful a Utility can be when they are crown corp with a monopoly.

        • Sam, not sure what the making of money in the private sector refers to, I agree with you about making as much money as you are able. However, my comment was intended to point out that in the private sector, if you simply tore up an agreement, you would be sued. Case in point, a fellow simply walked away from a property deal off Vancouver Island. He was ordered, after being sued, to pay seventy grand. Too bad the fellow was not the provincial government, he could have simply made a law providing him with an out. As for the asking for more, I think the government and the BCTF are actually closer than people think. With regards to the wage issue only, I think they are a percent apart. Again, class size and composition are the big ticket items. With regards to the police, whom I have all the respect in the world, I don’t get your point – did they just discover the job was dangerous? My point was that police have negotiated a seven percent raise over three years. There was money for that pay raise, and the retro. For the record, I think they deserve more! Just because there are forty thousand teachers does not mean they do not get compensated – there are a lot of teachers, that’s the deal! Someone has to pay them – guess who? By the way, if I have to pay an extra thousand bucks a year so that my boy has a teacher who is capable of delivering a good product, I am in! What is the alternative? Here is a question for you – if all of a sudden people in BC began getting sick, say Ebola, and required medical coverage beyond what was budgeted, would simply say, “Sorry, not enough money.” Of course not.

          • Well not sure what to tell you. Trying to compare people dying of Ebola to deciding on whether to provide a 5K bonus, increasing Teacher’s existing extended benefits up to the gravy level and providing more prep days beyond their existing 3 months per year to the tune of $400M difference more above the affordable stage is like comparing apples to oranges. One is a life safety issue the other is a nice to have for the good times issue. Yes they close with the wages but far on the extended benefits which is killing the deal.

        • Gosh, Sammy, try telling the families of the teachers killed at Sandy Hook school that they did’t risk their lives for the kids – THEY LOST THEM. And last I heard, teachers pay taxes too. And the $5 you can’t afford if someone asks? Teachers regularly buy school supplies, keep snacks at their desks for those who come to school hungry, and give many hours volunteering at school functions, not to mention after school hours writing report cards (no, they don’t have time during the day to work on them), nurse your snotty kids’ noses and bring the bugs home because after all, teachers are today’s babysitters as well as educators. And no, I am not a teacher.

          • Marilyn, are you for Real.
            That is why the BCTF cannot negotiate. Because it appears very , very few of you understand the Real world. To actually use that tragedy to argue for more money is sick.

            You just don’t understand that the rest of us do volunteer work, look around your school for goodness sake. You see all those Parents there, they are Volunteers. Lots coach Hockey , Baseball etc. You Teachers just don’t seem to grasp life out of a school situation. And would not writing report cards part of Your Job?
            Did you not have any idea of job you went to school for?
            You and your ilk, unfortunately, make up the majority of the BCTF. That is why you are in the situation you are in.
            Your greed has clouded your vision to the point of you only see in “Teacher World”

          • Marilyn omg I don’t know where to start with you. Please do your research. All professionals buy their own supplies, welcome to the real world. Ask any Mechanic who buys their tools. If I even need to explain this then I give you no hope. The teachers killed in that incident was an isolated case you can’t compare that to the police who by nature have a dangerous job. Heck people die in car accidents every day, do stop driving? As a Structural Engineer in the private sector I have to careful when I’m on a rooftop for an inspection but I don’t claim to be a life risking job. Just use common sense and your safety training. Don’t over dramatize it.

        • Sammy — and you don’t think that the major private corporations (with private unions) are receiving massive amounts of tax breaks and incentives from the Government?

          Don’t forget, upon their election in 2001, the Liberals slashed the corporate tax rates by over 30% to foster their “lowest taxes in Canada” mantra.

          So, in essence, that IS money “from all of us.”

          • Bob, you have to lower corporate taxes in order to increase economic activity thus overall providing more tax dollars due to the change in the private sector behavior. Anybody who think increasing corporate taxes will help the economy is simply delusional.

        • I’m not sure what type of Professional Engineer you are or what your responsibilities are, but try to imagine that your supplies / materials that you are responsible for working with change in quality each time you receive a shipment.

          Let’s say it’s steel. Every shipment of steel looks the same on the outside, but you never know its quality and whether or not it is capable of performing or holding up to the plans you have for it. And then, your job “performance” is based on it, even if it was because of factors beyond your control.

          A simple analogy, granted, but one which tries to address your “performance” argument against teachers.

          The classroom has changed considerably in its composition, especially over the past 12 years. Who best to speak out about these conditions than the people who are in them day after day?

          • Bob, as a Structural Engineer actually any Engineer, we would specify what materials to be provided (or approved equivalent). Meaning if the Contractor wants to use something else they have to provide shop drawings on that and we approve or not. Building codes must be met. Anyways you asked so there you go. For any Profession, Engineers and Teachers , supply and demand is also a factor. I expect to get paid less in say Victoria then Edmonton or For McMurray because supply and demand in each location. Teachers in BC have a high supply of fully certified unemployed teachers who would work at last year’s deal. Keep that in mind. It’s not about what people deserve it’s not about emotion it’s about reality.

    • This will end when the Liberals take their Opt Out clause off the table and actually come ready to negotiate in good faith.

      This will end when the Liberals stop demanding that the teachers throw away their the class size and composition grievances (awarded through the two BCSC victories) as a “precondition” to any negotiating.

    • If the tax dollars are so limited, then why have the Liberals spent MILLIONS of it fighting the BCTF in Supreme Court (losing twice) and why have they spent MILLIONS in their campaign against teachers?

      Or are they only tax dollars when they go to teachers and not tax dollars when the Government spends it attacking them?

    • They want what other provinces have for teachers, well one thing, other provinces do not have that many pro-d days, so eliminate them, other provinces do not have the benefits that BC is going for, so eliminate your wish list and come into reality. And in these meetings, how are teachers making up the time the students lost last year and what they will lose this year. Here is a thought, give up your pro-d days, any other real job if they want upgrades and Pro-D, they pay for themselves. So if you feel strongly for the “children” just teach and give up a lot of the perks, the 3 months off a year is plenty.

  2. “The Province is feeling the pressure”. Really.
    Another indication that The BCTF are delusional. So Jim Iker wonders why they should take a vote about standing down from strike action when the time should be used trying to get an agreement. Give me a break.
    Is Iker saying that the BCTF couldn’t attempt to negotiate a resolution while at the same time conduct a membership vote…
    Iker doesn’t want a vote because he knows that the result would show a lack of confidence in his leadership

    • You may be right. I think the offer by the government is satisfactory. However it is clear that the main issue driving this entire labour dispute is the class composition problem. The BCTF wants TOTAL control over this issue and that is completely wrong.

      The class composition issue is a much larger issue that has been spawned by the flawed policy of ‘inclusion’. It is that policy that needs a rethink to determine solutions, and that is a much greater process than just the BCTF.

      • Precisely. I don’t know why it’s so hard to understand that some of us that don’t like at all how the BCTF has fought for control of such issues class size and comp don’t disagree that it needs to be addressed. Just not by a union!

  3. I do not support the Teachers period, they have been a problem in our society for years not just this year. Another Question “Why are taxpayers paying for multicultural programs we do need, if you want multicultural program you pay it yourself seperaltely

    • Kenny, keep your support – my guess is you probably support very little good anyway! As for the multicultural programs, have you not noticed? It is a multicultural society we live in man! Try to keep up here! Jeez!

      • @ Rick , Kenneth brings up a good point. One of the issues is the large number of ESL/ELL students that require substantial effort to learn English/French. Whose responsibility is that; parents or the schools system?

        If a student has substantial problems with the English language, then frankly they should to enrolled in a separate school that deals with that subject, BEFORE, they are accepted into a normal classroom. It makes zero sense to include such students if they are unable to communicate or understand what is taught.

        • Stephen, the responsibility belongs to the province. Not really sure what Ken is talking about when he says Multicultural Programs. However, every school has support for ESL kids. If they do what you say, enroll them in a separate school, who picks up the tab? Same school system I would assume. If you are suggesting these students be funded by their parents or someone else, how bout the refugees we accept? If they are refugees, I doubt they have the money to fund their education. Steve, education is the responsibility of the province. It is expensive and you may not wish to pay for it, too bad! It is, according to the United Nations, a right! The provincial government are going to find out, like you will, they may not want to fund education, but they must! Stay tuned!

        • Well Stephen that would be great in a perfect world but we do not live in a prefect world. ESL/ELL students are not something new and they will always be part of the public education system. Teachers just have to deal with it along with a myriad of other situations. Autism, health conditions, serve and moderate learning disabilities, behavioural problems, parents, principals and of course the BC provincial government. I could go on and on.

          We live in a richest part of the country but have the lowest spending on education. That doesn’t make any sense to me, what do you think?

        • The issue is NOT the ESL/ELL learners in the classroom. They are funded largely through the high tuition fees charged by the Province/Districts.

          The CSC issue revolves around the various categories of IEP students. These students who range from specific learning difficulties in reading / writing / math / etc. to ADD / ADHD to Behaviour to medical to anxiety / emotional to FAS to Aspergers t Autism all the way up to various developmental difficulties.

          And ALL of these require medical and/or professional PsychEd confirmation. They are NOT determined by teachers.

          And yet, the Liberals are seeking to remove all the “labels” from these children in order to remove their supports.

          In fact, the Liberals are calling the supports for all these children as a “benefit” for teachers. That is how they have come up with their highly inflated “benefits” figure that is so misquoted by the media pundits.

          • the fundamental issue is the matter of Class composition and it is clear the current policy of ‘inclusion’ is not working well under the current prescription and needs a serious review, rethink and solution building.

            I do not believe such should be left up to the Courts, nor do I believe such should be included in the BCTF agreement except perhaps a letter of agreement to undertake a review that is urgently required.

            The policy of inclusion will need a much larger audience than just the BCTF /Government. Such would likely include a host of specialists; doctors/nurses/ language folks, psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, educationalists, affected parents, financial folks, and likely others.

            This is the crux of the dispute that needs to be addressed. There is no sense in throwing a bunch of money at the problem hoping such will go away, it will not.
            Better solutions need to be found, the 13 student categories now used need to be reviewed and validated.

  4. I guess fastspender could only hope that the BCTF would vote to go back to work. And also keep in play that The Brightest and the Best don’t have to do what this pesky court system says if they don’t like the out come!

  5. There is a clause in the proposed contract has a 60 day cancellation . The government could come to an agreement then cancel the contract after 60 days.
    Would you sign a contact like that ?
    We should never trust a politician anytime from any party.

  6. @Trevor J. You are right about not trusting a politician from any party. BUT certainly from snookums and the rest of THE LIE BERALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I have said it a dozen times. The Libs need the BCTF to abandon their goal of improving class size and class composition. The Libs have stipulated time and time again, that the one thing they will not negotiate on is their demand that the BCTF forgive them for stripping their contract in regards to “size and composition”. They need to be let off the hook, before the Supreme Court Appeal Ruling comes out. So if the BCTF don’t cave on their stance for improving the learning environment, there simply will NOT be a deal. Vince Ready is nothing more than a spectator, unless the BCTF says “OK, OK, we promise to ignore the Supreme Court’s decision when it comes out”
    Oooh …. the big $5,000 signing bonus (that just gives them back what they have lost) and the $3000 massage benefit (that less than 2% of their membership will cash in on), those are just smoke screens that the Libs are using to fool the intellectually challenged. Outside of Size and Composition, every other issue is minor at this point !
    My gut feeling is that the BCTF aren’t going to cave until there members are financially ruined. That sounds like an early October start up to me.

  8. Stephen…language to opt out of contracts may exist in other contracts….but in this instance Liberals using it to circumvent court losses that is a problem.

  9. If Vince Ready is given a mandate to mediate this dispute, both parties will be compelled to move closer with their positions.

    Translated this means the BCTF will need to reduce its demands and the government must offer more to address the concerns of the BCTF as well as remove its pre-conditions.

    So far the government has remained with its original offer and demands. It has not moved one iota save the offer to reduce the length of contract from 10 to 6 or 5 years. At the same time, it has placed pre-conditions for mediation which the union must resist.

    Since it has come this far, it should not fold its tent by agreeing to pre-conditions imposed by the government which offered nothing else so far.

    If Vince Ready is as good as advertised, the government will need to move the most. Otherwise, Vince Ready will need to depart from his well-known trademark strategy of forcing both parties to compromise.

  10. Hmmph We have a split her . I have noticed in a lot of comments from the NDP supporters that they have yet to grasp that the majority of voters do not support them .Ahh the last election so many are still in shock . Get over it the party of NO LOST and will continue to loose.
    The government is responsible to the taxpayers as a whole . Not the teachers as some seem to think .
    So no to handing over the surplus ,NO to raising the provincial tax rate by three percent to pay the teachers off .We have a crisis coming in health care etc .
    The teachers have to settle in the established pattern that other unions have accepted .
    OHHH please spare me that teachers are so special etc . The majority do not sit and whine . We work a lot in tough conditions. We pay taxes .That is where the salaries for all public employees come from not some piggy bank.

    • What makes you think that all teachers are NDP supporters?

      The teachers I talk to cover the whole political spectrum — some are even Liberal! However, collectively teachers are speaking out against the rapidly declining classroom conditions, the removal of supports for Special Needs / Learners and the chronic underfunding of public education.

      Why are BC Students receiving $1000 less per pupil than the Canadian average?

      • AHH now in first year we were taught never to assume anything . Break up assume . Now re re read the first sentence . I said NDP supporters . not Teachers as you read .OHH come on about the schools . They are way better than I went to public schools .Funding ??? The first school I went to covered three grades in one class . ESL ??? We are all immigrants .We all helped to teach English to our friends. Go and look at other countries and how they deliver education .Highly competitive . Their students have to survive in the global market
        Go check out Japan ,Mexico ,Costa Rica etc on how education is there .We have lived there .
        Next lets talk about a private sector comparison . What quality of student does the B.C. system produce . majority of 1st year university students fail English entrance .
        Computers we never had .Spell check??? No we typed and sweated blood .
        Do not talk to me about hard done by

  11. What a crock , more hot air and bum sniffing , like a pack of Kures .
    When are you going to realize , that it takes 3 different lrvels of education to do this right , # 1, put the brightest and best in one class , # 2 put the ESL students in another class , and #3
    put the siow leaners , and what not in this class , and introduce programs like Occupation ,
    Enterance , for grade 11 students . And trades in general should be started in Junior High level .
    With all those years of education , and they still don’t know a dam thing .

    • British Columbia should model the best education system in the world; and that would be Finland. Instead, they will aim to model what California does. Why?
      ANSWER: Because it is way cheaper !
      The days of the public education system being the “Great Equalizer” are coming to an end. The rich will go private, and they will dominate the top careers in the next 20 years.

      • What was that about California being “Cheaper”???
        They are totally broke. One of the main reasons was their decision to go to smaller class sizes. Cost the state Billions of $$ hiring thousands of Teachers etc. And what was the Result?? It was a total flop, and Californians are still trying to dig their way out.
        This is exactly what the BCTF wants, without any consideration for anything, less of all the Taxpayer!

        • The policies down south suck, and for the past decade we keep aiming to copy them !
          Kids with learning disabilities need support. Sure you can take 50 strong academic kids and put them in one class with one teacher, and the research will show that they do just fine.
          But try having 1 in 5 kids with either a learning disability or a behavioural issue and the rest of a class of 30 suffer greatly.

        • Unfortunately, your grasp of the situation in California is far from accurate.

          The primary reason that California is in such dire straits financially is because of the huge (over 30%) percentage of illegal immigrants. They, of course, have no (legal) jobs and pay no taxes. However, their children are entitled to public education and health care. It has nothing to do with smaller class sizes.

          All the border states are facing similar pressures on their health and education systems.

          • Funny, not a word on how the experiment worked?
            You can spout any opinion you want on why they are where the are, but how did the small class sizes work???? And how much money was spent/wasted to get nowhere.
            And this is what the Teachers want? Or do they even care?

  12. I’m glad that it won’t be you makeing the desigen . But mabe a few new scools will be in order ,
    Mobiles , are the answer if you have to meny kids , they take up the over flow , and are cheep .
    Where as teachers , Save money and retire , some , and make room for those starting out .
    Seperate the kids , and solve the problem .

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