KEY QUESTIONS

  1. Why didn’t you bargain all summer? Why hasn’t government signed an agreement?

BCPSEA was prepared to bargain all summer, in fact, they started bargaining earlier this year. But in the summer, the BCTF showed little interest in coming to the table with any affordable proposals.

The lead negotiators even held exploratory discussions with Justice Kelleher who concluded that mediation was not indicated.

The BCTF’s wage and benefit demands are nearly twice what other public-sector workers have settled for.  They continue to insist on a special $5,000 signing bonus that no other public-sector worker has received. This is one of the reasons, why we encountered difficulties while negotiating with the teachers, but we hope to overcome this situation.

When veteran mediator Vince Ready met with both sides on the weekend of Aug. 30, he concluded that wages and benefits were some of the big stumbling blocks. He talked with the both parties and he hopes he will be able to reach an agreement.

The BCTF needs to be realistic about wages and benefits so we can move forward and negotiate class size and composition.

  1. Why are you appealing the court case? Why not just negotiate class composition now?

BCPSEA wants to negotiate class size and composition.  It is the most important issue at the bargaining table. BCPSEA’s proposal would guarantee $375 million to deal with complex classroom needs.

Government is appealing the court case because we disagree with Justice Griffin’s interpretation of recent Supreme Court decisions.  However, the appeal does not prevent either party from renegotiating class size and composition in this round of bargaining.

We believe decisions about complex classroom needs should be made at the local level by teachers, principals and districts. However, the BCTF wants to return to a factory model where students are managed through rigid ratios and arbitrary formulas.  No other province manages their classrooms this way because it is inefficient, ineffective and highly discriminatory against students with special needs.

  1. What is the E.80 clause?

E.80 is BCPSEA’s proposal on class size and composition.  We’re ready to commit $375 million to deal with complex classroom needs.  More details on the proposals

  1. What about class sizes?

Compared to other high-performing jurisdictions, British Columbia does not have large classes. In the past years (2013-14) average class sizes are near historical lows of:

  • 19.3 students for kindergarten.
  • 21.5 for grades 1 to 3.
  • 25.7 for grades 4 to 7.
  • 23.0 for grades 8 to 12.

This is a significant problem for the B.C. and continuing with this rate in the following years, we will have no one to teach, if we don’t change something.

  1. How much do teachers currently earn?

The average compensation (salary and benefits) for a newly hired teacher in British Columbia is just over $60,000 ($49,000 in salary). The average teacher receives nearly $90,000 in compensation ($73,291 in salary) and an experienced teacher receives on average of $99,000 (includes $81,000 in salary). When we look at this statistic, the benefits they receive aren’t that bad.

  1. What has the government offered to teachers?

BCPSEA’s most recent offer to the BCTF was a seven per cent wage increase over a six-year term to provide stability for the education system and a guarantee of at least $375 million over five years to address complex classroom needs like hiring more teachers and education assistants.

At set points in the contract, teachers would also be entitled to additional wage increases if the economy performs better than forecast. For example, if real GDP grows 1 per cent greater than the forecast, teachers would see an additional 0.5 per cent wage increase.

This is a way to share the benefits of a growing economy with our public-sector employees.

More details on the proposals

  1. What are the sticking points with the BCTF counter offer?

The BCTF’s compensation demands remain double compared to the 150,000 other B.C. public-sector workers have recently settled for, including the union’s demands for a special $5,000 signing bonus that no other public sector workers have received.

On class size and composition, the BCTF wants to go back to rigid pre-2002 contract language that would increase the number of BCTF members required to staff schools and take flexibility away from teachers, parents and administrators to deal with individual classroom needs.

More details on the proposals

  1. Why won’t you just legislate now?

Rushing to legislation is part of the problem, it’s not the solution.  Legislating and then litigating agreements will just keep us on the same dysfunctional treadmill that we have been on for the past 30 years.

This dispute needs to be solved at the bargaining table.  We are committed to reaching a negotiated agreement with the BCTF – an agreement that works for both sides and the taxpayers of British Columbia.

Since April 1987, there have been more than 50 teacher strikes, three full lockouts and one partial lockout.

  1. Where is the money coming from ‎for the $40 a day program?

Parents with students 12 years old or under enrolled at B.C. public schools may be eligible to receive a payment of $40 per day, per child, to help ease the impact while schools are closed due to the labour disruption. These funds come from the school districts’ payroll and operating savings while BCTF members are on strike.‎ Learn more at http://www.bcparentinfo.ca

  1. Why are you locking teachers out?

There is no employer lockout in place.  The BCTF is choosing to strike.  If a teacher were to cross the picket lines and report to work, they would be paid in full.

On August 27 Minister of Education Peter Fassbender asked the BCTF and BCPSEA to suspend any strike and lockout activities if the parties entered mediation so students could start school and teachers could go to work.

BCPSEA confirmed they would not engage in any lockout actions.  The BCTF, on the other hand, refused to suspend their pickets and they would not even canvass their members on the proposal.