Tuesday, 1 July 2014

On behalf of the Peace River North Teachers’ Association, Mary and I would like to thank the community of Fort St. John and area for standing with us during our job action.  We have had such amazing support from parents, students, community members, CUPE  and other unions in our area.  They have been exceptional in their unity. 
Even though Peace River North teachers will not be picketing schools this summer, our job action is not over.  The BCTF will continue to bargain during the summer in hopes of reaching a negotiated Collective Agreement for its members.   We must keep the pressure on by writing Premier Christy Clark, the Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender, and SD 60 School Trustees, to urge them to settle with the teachers. 
Once again, we want to thank you for all your support during this difficult time and want to wish you a safe and relaxing summer.
 ~ Michele Wiebe, PRNTA President
 ~ Mary Tremain, PRNTA Vice-President

Thursday, 26 June 2014

      School’s out for summer!
Lunch and Rally
12:00 at the Legion
10103 - 105th Avenue
Fort St. John
(Across from the School Board Office)

Please have your entire picket group (this includes our CUPE supporters) gather at your picket site from 8:00 to 12:00.
Come to the Legion as soon as your pickets come down for Subway sandwiches, munchies, and socializing!
Picketing will not resume after our rally.

Have a wonderful summer!


Now more than ever is the time to keep up the pressure on trustees to demand they speak out about the urgent need for mediation to reach a fair deal for teachers that brings better support for kids. Many of you have already written and/or phoned with this call to action. Because the BCSTA website only offers email addresses to school district offices, the BCTF now has compiled a list of trustees’ individual emails to make it easier for teachers and supporters to write directly to them. The list is accessible from the home page of the BCTF website under the headline SAY YES TO MEDIATION. The link is: http://bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/Public/ContactUs/SchoolTrustees2013-14.pdf

Michele Wiebe, President
Peace River North Teachers' Association
Fort St. John, BC
Office: 250-785-8881
Cell: 250-262-4205

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

We called around to our local financial institutions about relief for PRNTA and CUPE members.  The general response was that it is best to go into your credit union or bank to set up an appointment to explore the possibilities. 
We are posting a table with a brief description:

 Financial Relief for Teachers/CUPE in SD 60

Student Loans
-arrangements can immediately be made to defer payments for 45 days
- it is possible to apply under a hardship program for other help
- is offering payment deferment for vehicles

250-785-0361 #1, # 3, #0
- you may qualify for a payment deferral  (some conditions include that you live in the house, and it is not a low-rate closed mortgage
- may be available although the conditions are stringent
- make an appointment to apply & to determine if you meet their criteria
- if you meet certain conditions you may qualify to pay only the interest portion
- the local branch has more control over granting
LOC and personal loans
* * many people selected payment protection with their credit cards – you can get Creditor Insurance contact information from the branch
North Peace Savings & Credit Union

- Mortgage payments can be deferred for 2 months
- long-term contract teachers  (members and potential members)may qualify for a LOC or other borrowing
All of our decisions are made locally.   Come in and see us so we can help you through this period of uncertainty.
250-787-0681 #0#1
Lynn (reception)
- if you have held your mortgage for 1 year , 1 month’s payment can be ‘skipped’ (will be added to the end of the mortgage)
- L-O-C is a possibility
- check out www.rbc.com for more information
250-262-5150 (voice activation)
- call the branch to make an appointment to defer payments & extend the life of your mortgage
- call the branch to make an appointment to explore possibilities

250-262-5000   #3
call the branch to make an appointment to defer payments & extend the life of your mortgage – maximum of 1 payment if you pay  monthly or 2 payments if you pay bi-weekly 
- call the branch to make an appointment to explore possibilities for financial relief

Andy Nesdoly, Surrey teacher and actor, wrote the script for this video. His director friend helped him film and edit it. It's hilarious and does a great job of explaining how we've ended up where we are. Please check it out. 


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

OPEN LETTER: BC Teacher's Strike

June 18, 2014

Honourable Peter Fassbender
PO BOX 9045

Fax: 250 387-3200

OPEN LETTER: BC Teacher's Strike

Dear Minister Fassbender,

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the full-scale teachers' strike that commenced yesterday, Tuesday June 17. While the media focus and majority of public scrutiny has been directed towards issues such as provincial exam grading, class composition and teachers compensation, First Nations priorities have fallen to the wayside.

This strike is especially concerning as First Nations students statistically have a higher rate of special needs than non-First Nations students. Many of these special needs require additional support and resources. A strike effectively means the essential services necessary to bridge the educational gap between First Nations students and non-First Nations students will no longer be provided, and will serve to negate the hard work put in throughout the years so far. This is unacceptable.

The Province of BC's failure to continue educational services to its learners has communicated that the significant needs of First Nations students are unimportant, that these services can be interrupted without an explanation and without direct consultation with First Nations communities and leadership.

We strongly urge the province to take the necessary steps and immediately find a solution to this strike. The province owes a clear explanation to Indigenous leadership at large and all BC residents, as we all have a stake in the education of our youth.


[Original signed]

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

Chief Robert Chamberlin

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson

First Nations Summit
BC Assembly of First Nations
First Nations Education Steering Committee
BC Teachers' Federation

June 23, 2014

Let’s get straight to the heart of the matter
Government is trying to knock us off our game. They are trying to confuse us and the public with statistics, ads, and other kinds of information. Teachers, however, are strong and resolved. We are clear
and we know what needs to happen:
Teachers need a fair deal on salary. We have not had a raise since 2010.

Kids deserve better support. Class size, class composition, and staffing levels for specialist teachers must be improved.

BC’s per-student funding second-worst in the country. It’s time for government to reinvest in education.

These are the three key reasons why we need to keep our picket lines strong and well organized. Public support has been terrific and is holding. Strong picket lines show both the public and the government that we are still determined and undeterred.

We know that going on strike is never easy. Besides losing pay, strikes can add to stress and worry. Employers never give rights to workers without workers fighting to get them. And that’s what we’re in right now, a fight not only to better ourselves as teachers, but to improve and protect what we love to do, teaching children in a properly funded public education system. We’re also protecting what we’ve won in the courts

needs to “get in the zone”
It was not lost on us that Premier Christy Clark stood in an industrial setting wearing her hard hat responding to questions about the BCTF’s call for mediation. Many observers feel that Clark poisoned the well with her comment that “no credible mediator” would step in at this point.

Clark, Education Minister Peter Fassbender and BCPSEA chief negotiator Peter Cameron are constantly repeating that the two parties are “too far apart” for mediation to work. The whole purpose of mediation is to find common ground when the parties are apart. Quite frankly, we see this line as a ruse to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of teachers and the public.
Furthermore, the BCTF did revise its salary proposal. BCPSEA responded that it wasn’t good enough. Then we proposed a class-size and class-composition fund. BCPSEA did not even respond to this proposal.

Their mantra of “too far apart” has become tiresome and unhelpful and begs the question: are BCPSEA and the government really interested in reaching a deal? At this point, it is government that needs to get in the zone
in particular, on funding necessary to meaningfully address classroom conditions. We moved to them on salary, now they need to move to us.
Government's excuse for not bargaining
Over the weekend, social media was buzzing with links to videos, info-graphics, and other creative responses to the government’s full-page ad in Friday’s 24 Hours newspaper on the “zone of affordability.” What is a “zone of affordability” anyway? To us, it sounds like lingo from the Fraser Institute or an inexplicable slogan from an expensive public relations firm. And, as stated previously it’s government that needs to get into the zone.

However, teachers and the public were quick on the mark to respond to the misleading ad with spoofs of their own. Here are a few of the many responses:

Here’s a great graphic that points out the real tragedies of the Liberal’s “affordability zone.”

One teacher published a clever math lesson for BCPSEA video debunking the government’s numbers.

Jim Nelson, educator and writer, published a blog this past weekend listing recent wage settlements in both the private and public sector in BC.

Andrew Weaver, Green Party MLA, gave the government a failing grade on how they came up with the math.

Vince Ready occupied with truckers’ dispute
Some reports have questioned why the BCTF would propose Vince Ready as a mediator without confirming his availability first. BCTF President Jim Iker talked with Vince Ready on two occasions and he said although he was very busy, he did not rule out taking on our mediation. Iker also discussed mediation with BCPESEA negotiator Peter Cameron, who also expressed concern that Ready might not be available until later in the week. Both sides were hoping for a Monday start.

However, on Sunday Ready contacted Iker to say he would be unable to take on the mediation citing prior commitments. Unfortunately, the truckers’ dispute with Port Metro Vancouver has heated up again. Just because Ready is not available does not mean mediation is no longer an option. The BCTF will continue to pursue it as a means of resolving our dispute. We believe that if mediation is to work, the government and its representatives need to end their rhetoric, take the process seriously, and move off their entrenched positions.
Upcoming rallies
Monday, June 23

4:00 p.m. NANAIMO - March from Wall Street to Maffeo Sutton Park for a 5:00 p.m. rally
Tuesday, June 24
6:00 p.m. PRINCE GEORGE2100 Ferry Ave
Wednesday, June 25
4:00 p.m. POWELL RIVER—Old Arena Site at Willingdon Beach
5:00 p.m. KAMLOOPSRiverside Park Band Shell
Thursday, June 26 
1:00 p.m. VICTORIAProvincial Legislature

Have you called your MLA?
Many of you have sent letters to Premier Clark, Minister Fassbender, MLAs, and trustees, calling on them to agree to mediation. We believe all of your efforts helped them to say yes. Please keep up the pressure. If you haven’t contacted your MLA or trustees yet, please do so today. If you already have, now is a good time to follow up with a phone call or an in-person visit.

There is also a new poster saying “We support teachers” on the BCTF website that you can plaster around the community, encourage local businesses and shops to display in their windows, etc. Thank you once again for all your tremendous work towards a fair deal for teachers and better support for kids.
Here are the links to contact MLAs and school districts. Your local office will have direct contact information for trustees.

PRNTA Pro-D Survey

Thank you for your input!

What is your preference for allocation of PRNTA Pro-D funds?

What method of application would you prefer?

How many times have you accessed PRNTA pro-d funds (full allotment) in the past 10 years?

What have you accessed?

How would you prefer to utilize a $1500 allotment in the next 2 year window?

How would you utilize TTOC days in the next 2 year window?