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

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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.

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Bob

Jul 2, 2014 at 3:06pm

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.

Dave

Jul 2, 2014 at 4:02pm

$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.

Blue

Jul 2, 2014 at 5:07pm

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?

ex-Hanry guy

Jul 2, 2014 at 5:36pm

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.

Pat Crowe

Jul 2, 2014 at 5:55pm

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.

mORGUS

Jul 2, 2014 at 6:46pm

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.

Meathead

Jul 2, 2014 at 7:18pm

"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."

Blue

Jul 2, 2014 at 8:11pm

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.

Internet made me obsolete

Jul 2, 2014 at 9:43pm

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?

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