LETTER: BC Teachers Taking a Stand for Public Education With Possible Strikes
BC Teachers are taking a stand for public education! What’s going to happen?
It’s not something we do lightly but, after 16 months at the bargaining table and still a long way off from a fair deal, teachers across BC will begin rotating strikes on Monday, May 26 to May 29, 2014.
Teachers in our school district will be on the picket lines on Tuesday, May 27th.
All extra-curricular, voluntary activities and field trips will not be proceeding on Tuesday or on any days that teachers may be on the picket lines.
The rotating strikes will begin on Monday, May 26 and continue May 27, 28, and 29.
All school districts will be impacted on one of those days. All schools will be open on Friday, May 30.
Any extension of the rotating job action will depend on events at the bargaining table.
The rotating closures are part of a two-stage strike plan voted on by teachers in March.
During that vote, teachers gave their bargaining team an overwhelming mandate to begin low-level job action and escalate to rotating strikes if meaningful progress was not made in negotiations.
In all, 29,300 teachers cast ballots—89% voted in favour of the two-stage job action plan.
Why are teachers walking out?
We have been at the bargaining table for 16 months, and the provincial government and the BC Public School Employers’ Association still refuse to offer any improvements to class size, class composition, and other important learning conditions for students.
BC’s per student funding is $1,000 less than the national average. It’s not fair to your kids, our students.
The BC government has to begin reinvesting in our kids and their future.
On top of that the employer’s wage demands are unfair after teachers have been legislated two years of zeroes.
Last week we were hopeful when we saw the government and BCPSEA put out an olive branch by backing off the unrealistic 10-year term.
But then the employer announced a series of threats around wage rollbacks, lockouts, and attempts to divide teachers, parents, and students.
Government is trying to ignore the BC Supreme Court.
Teachers have twice won the right to negotiate our working conditions, which are also students’ learning conditions, in BC Supreme Court.
The constitutional rights of teachers can’t be swept under the carpet. And the fundamental rights of all children to a quality public education should also be respected.
We expect government to bring new funding to the table to make those much-needed improvements happen.
Kids matter, teachers care!
As teachers, we do not want to be taking job action.
We care deeply about our students, and many of us are parents too.
We empathize with parents who have to re-work their schedules, and that is why we have taken the unusual step of giving between six and ten days’ notice in advance.
But we are firmly convinced that we need to take a strong stand now to convince Christy Clark’s government to reinvest in BC’s students.
It is time for government to make education a funding priority.
If this government is serious about labour peace they should offer teachers a fair deal and show some good faith.
We will remain at the bargaining table. There are six days left before the first schools shut down.
We are appealing to parents and concerned citizens to please join with us in encouraging Christy Clark and Peter Fassbender to move off of their unreasonable demands, and empower BCPSEA to negotiate a fair deal for teachers and better support for kids.
Thank you for your continued understanding and support!
Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union
Andrew M. Davidoff, President