Thursday, June 28, 2012

More reasons for a "no" vote

Victoria teachers met yesterday to take a look at the tentative agreement. Feelings are mixed. While there is certainly some sense of relief that the concessions are now off the table, there is also a strong concern that the agreement does little to address the concerns of teachers.

After the meeting, he GVTA Executive Committee met and decided to recommend a "no" vote in Victoria.

This agreement does not address the three issues identified as the highest priorities for Victoria teachers:

1 - class size & composition
2 - salary
3 - preparation time

There is little in terms of improvements in this agreement. The compassionate care leave top-up will be accessed by very few teachers. To qualify, you must qualify for EI, which means a doctor must certify that the family member you are caring for is likely to die within six months. The unpaid family leave is already in the Employment Standards Act and is not a new benefit. It is simply being written in to the collective agreement.

There are some improvements in benefits. However, the $2.6 million in additional monies for benefits is very little compared to either the $7.5 for CUPE in their negotiations or the $30 million saved by gov't during our three day strike.

Finally, while this agreement provides zero and zero for salary, the gov't is currently offering 3 1/2 % over two years to the BCGEU. Having a settlement now will mean teachers will not be in negotiations at the same time as our public sector colleagues this fall. This could present a missed opportunity for joint action to contest the four years of "net zero" mandate while private sector and municipal workers are consistently seeing 2 - 3% annual increases.

Some teachers argue that we should simply wait for a change in government. But I don't hear a commitment from the NDP on two important issues: returning class size/composition limits, and ending the "net zero" mandate. I have asked repeatedly for a commitment to these issues, but none has been made. In fact, my most recent question posed to NDP education critic Robin Austin has gone unanswered.

I am concerned a "yes" vote gives a win to Christy Clark and tells any future government that if you want to squeeze public education and teachers, simply legislate their rights away and frighten them.


  1. A "yes" vote not only hands the "Lie"berals a false sense of credit for a less-than adequate surprise deal made without our bargaining committee, but, if you actually read the breakdown of this net-zero deal, it appears that some districts in our province who have locally negotiated good benefits will stand to lose some of them!! If I had to grade this recent action by our provincial executive, I would have give a "not yet meeting minimal standards" grade and ask them to focus their priorities carefully. Then again, as one of my colleagues said, perhaps what Susan Lambert said about being bullied into this agreement is code for "vote no". I can sleep for doing just that.

  2. A Yes vote was never about capitulating. Class size was never on the table at all, and Bill 22 made sure of that. I disagree that members with more lucrative benefits will now lose them.

    The most important thing about the AiC was the removal of the vicious anti-union language. Read more at:

    Ian in East Van