Jim Iker: B.C. government sticking to unreasonable positions on teachers

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker issued this statement today (July 2):

For two weeks, BC teachers have been calling on government and the BC Public School Employers’ Association to enter mediation. For the past week, I have been meeting with BCPSEA’s Peter Cameron and Mr. Justice Stephen F. Kelleher of the BC Supreme Court in exploratory discussions. I am very grateful that the BC Supreme Court granted Justice Kelleher leave to facilitate these discussions and for his willingness to act as mediator.

Unfortunately, mediation at this time will not be productive. The government, by trying to impose a series of unworkable preconditions prior to entering into mediation, has not provided the flexibility required to make mediation work. The preconditions would have predetermined the outcome.

The BCTF has made a number of significant moves to bring the two sides closer together, including a salary proposal that puts the two sides within 1%. Teachers have been looking for government to respond with counterproposals that would improve learning conditions for students like class size, class composition, and staffing levels for specialist teachers.

Successful collective bargaining requires flexibility, an open mind, and a willingness to bring creative ideas to the table. Teachers called for mediation to help facilitate those kinds of ideas. However, the government insisted that teachers accept proposals that would limit bargaining before even entering mediation. When teachers proposed a compromise that would have brought the two sides even closer to make mediation work, the government rejected that compromise. That is not a fair or reasonable process.

The government wants teachers to accept wage demands before they will even disclose their new proposals on class size and composition. That is unacceptable. At no point during these exploratory talks did the government offer any new money for class size, class composition, or staffing levels for specialist teachers.

At this point, with the government maintaining entrenched positions that are unfair and unreasonable, mediation will not be able to move forward. We will keep the lines of communication open in July to restart bargaining if the government is ready to make a real effort and bring the necessary funding to the table. If not, BC teachers will try again in August, with the new school year looming, to reengage Justice Kelleher and the government in meaningful and fair mediation.

Comments (20) Add New Comment
So the government said two weeks ago the sides were too far apart for successful mediation and now Mr. Iker agrees with that assessment. Well, at least they have found something they can agree on.
Rating: +4
$48,250 is average wage in Canada
$71,340 is average BCTF teacher wage
BC has lowest provincial income tax for a $71,340 income
Taxpayers pay 75% Medical Services Plan, 80% Extended Health Benefits, 80%
Group Life Plan, 75% Dental Plan of BC Teacher benefits. Average BC Teacher benefits estimated at $18,000.
$19.8 Billion is BC Teachers Pension Plan, I assume taxpayers have been more than generous to this account
3.7% student enrollment decline from 2009/10 to 2013/14.
I'm not very concerned with what the BCTF executive says because there is a lot of shading of information and manipulation of numbers in the babble they put out.
Rating: +7
Well, no. Entering mediation with pre-conditions on a major item while only hinting at solving an other is not reasonable. Enter mediation or don't but why pretend to? Too bad the public isn't going to get a third party opinion/clearer numbers or is that what the government is afraid of?
Rating: -17
ex-Hanry guy
Well, where to start you sonofabitch! Teachers do such an unimportant job that they should make twelve grand above poverty level? The "average teacher wage" you state obviously includes principal's and vice-princepal's wages which would skew the average. (If you've taken any grade 12 or higher levels of math, you'd know that averages are not as accurate as means..but ...)Taxpayers pay....well we are all taxpayers and what do we want?..... a good society; which is done with low hospital stays for f**ups who don't have any education; low court time, police time, etc. and what can be done -well educated citizens! Not just consumers, low wage earners, but smart people. What do you want to pay for that?
Shit wages for a job few can do-(hey, like, I went o a doctor, so I like know hoe to do that stuff..) It is a profession not a f**ing clerical job.
So Forget all those bullsh*t Medical ro pension plans stuff-the public and the private sector do it so your arguement is crap.You pay what you get-public education is the cheapest way to a nice society and anything else is a Chicago school line of bullsh!t dogma.
Rating: -27
Pat Crowe
Christy Clark has said she wants to, "grow the economy."
Actually that was pretty much her only talking point during the last election. That and we are all going to be rich when LNG comes online.
Therefore ALL provincial government employees agreed to accept minimal wage increases during the Liberal term. Rate of inflation be damned.
The teachers are aware of this and in line with it.
The issue on the table is learning assistants in classrooms so teachers can do their jobs correctly. Not wages.
Rating: -32
Dave, being spiteful towards those with a bit more than average, or a bt more than you wont improve things.

Unfortunately for the BCTF, spite seems to be the default setting of the country these days and even if they had come into this fight with a plan, or any leverage at all (they have neither) thy could not win much of the public over. At this point, they would be best to cave before they blow any more money as the outcome will be decided by the government either way.

Rating: +9
400 ppm

How many years of post secondary education to get the average wage and the teacher wage?

How many years of post secondary education do you have?

How many years of post secondary education does he have?
Rating: -35
"with the government maintaining entrenched positions that are unfair and unreasonable, mediation will not be able to move forward."

This should read:

"with the BCTF maintaining entrenched positions that are both plainly stupid and unreasonable, mediation will not be able to move forward."
Rating: -2
Meathead is being fatuous, I guess. This government's actions over class size and composition have been deemed unconstitutional. That's the real sticking point.
Rating: -21
Internet made me obsolete
Look at it this way: any increase in the budget for K-12 has to come out of other Ministries' budgets. So what's it going to be, more numerous and more expensive teachers or more nurses? More "assistants" or more day-care? Fatter paychecks for a privileged elite or higher welfare rates?
The only way to pay for the BCTF demands is the NDP way: you borrow the money. It was the NDP, after all, who gave the BCTF that ridiculously expensive collective agreement on their way out the door. Even if, by some fluke, they had won the election, they would soon enough have had to face the same economic realities we face today.
A large cohort of teachers, some estimate as many as 40%, will be retiring in the next 5-10 years. They will leave with generous pensions and the right to use their seniority to monopolize TOC positions to meet their RRSP limits. The BCTF pension fund, while sizable, was not immune to the vagaries of the financial markets since 2008 and now faces an infunded liability of over a Billion$. The cost of this makes $225 Million for librarians pale into insignificance. Once the Province legislates yet another collective agreement, the battles over this issue will take central stage in the next round of "bargaining". Then we face the same difficult choices: who gets more and who gets less?
Rating: +10
Martin Dunphy

Look at it this way: a cynic might say that the province will pay for the BCTF raise the way it always pays public-sector increases during disputes that involve strikes or lockouts, and the same way the City of Vancouver does: bargaining in bad faith or delaying negotiating, putting off or refusing mediation or arbitration, then settling for the amount of money it has saved by not paying salaries for the duration of the dispute.
Of course, that would be a cynical view.
Rating: -18
to mORGUS - Where is my spite, all I did was lay down some numbers and an opinion that BCTF spin doctors their message. Pretty much any press release by any organization is spin doctored.
to 400 ppm - Post secondary schooling does not entitle anyone to a level of income, though it can help. I apprenticed for five years in my line of work, call it education on the job, and for 17 years of that self employed career, I earned more than an average paid BCTF teacher.
to ex-Hanry guy- All you did was bully (sonofabitch name calling) and rant rather incoherently. You mention poverty level, the average teacher costs taxpayers $18k for benefits and pensions while a person on welfare receives about $14k. People don't go to hospital because they are low education, anyone can break a leg, get a stroke, need radiation etc. Thanks for the zero facts you provide.
Rating: -3
These are ruff times we live in...
surely, there must be alternative way to do things
Rating: -14
400 ppm

How much did your vaccinations as a child cost taxpayers?
How much did the knowledge to develop your vaccinations cost taxpayers?
How much did your education before your apprenticeship cost taxpayers?
How much did your apprenticeship cost taxpayers?
How much did the knowledge you gained during your apprenticeship cost taxpayers?
How much did the roads you drove on during your self employed career cost taxpayers?
How much does the clean water to your home cost taxpayers?
How much do the cops and military who allow you to earn more than a teacher cost taxpayers?

Rating: -16
Alan Layton
The biggest problem facing the BCTF is how to maintain the bogus hysteria revolving around a system, that by all accounts, seems to be doing quite well. How can they continue to present a fake teaching crisis in BC, especially when the weather is turning nice and people are off on vacation? I'm sure the ace reporters of The GS will do their part, but will it be enough?
Rating: +4
Alan Layton
400 ppm - Excellent post. When you add all of those factors together the answer is that taxpayer are shouldering a huge load already, so why make it even worse by over-funding the educational system? Thanks for putting it in perspective.
Rating: -4
to 400pm
1-the same as your vaccinations
2- same as for you
3- zero, I worked and learned hands on in the private sector
4- zero
5- same as you and the roads you use. Roads move people, groceries ,products, are routes for water and sewer services, allow for garbage removal and emergency services.
6- same as you
7- same as it costs you

Your reply wasn't apples to apples, not even apples to oranges, more like apples to ufo's.

Rating: -3
What's the government's incentive to wait til August, Jim Iker?

You know that the government's appeal of Bill 22 is getting heard in October. If they bargain with you on class size then they might as well dump their appeal.

How are you going to entice them to do that?
Rating: -2
Well, you've hit the nail on the head. If the BCTF thought they had a good case on appeal, they could defer to their grievances on the matters of class size and composition and deal with remedy in that process. Instead, the BCTF maintains its position of $225 million in each year of a 5 year agreement (about $1.3 billion over the term of the agreement). Prevailing view in the Labour community is Justice Griffiths committed reviewable errors and the Gov't will win the appeal. That is one main reason Kelleher (formerly a chair of the BC Labour Board, noted mediator and arbitrator and now a BC Supreme Court Judge) and Ready won't touch the mediation. Neither wants their effort and reputation tainted by this dispute over education policy particularly given the high probability the Court of Appeal will over turn Griffith's decision.
Rating: -9
Problem with trying to compare wages of teachers to the average of the population isn't apples and apples. The average job in Canada does not require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. How about we compare the wages against professions that require a bachelor's degree or higher?
Rating: -3
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