Thursday, 2 October 2014

Submitted to the Alaska Highway News on October 2, 2014

Wanted:  Public School Advocates

Supporters of a strong public education system are urged to consider lending their voices to the cause by letting their name stand for election to the position of school trustee in School District #60 this fall. The Civic Elections taking place on November 15th will be electing candidates for an unprecedented 4-year term, and candidates must declare their intention to run by October 10th.

An important role of a school trustee is to be the voice of the public on education issues.  That public voice was absent in our district during the recent job action, and we want to encourage candidates to run who are willing to speak publicly on behalf of public education.

While there is labor peace in education for the time being, the issue of underfunding remains very much at the forefront.  BC remains far below the national average of per pupil spending by government, and the continued lack of services and resources still plagues our students. Parents have called for more support for students and classrooms, and trustees have the obligation to pursue these resources on behalf of their constituents.  

We need citizens who are passionate about making improvements to public education to take on this challenge. The provincial government has not demonstrated the willingness to adequately fund the public education system, and only reached a contract with teachers because of public pressure.  We need to elect trustees who will embody the voice of the public and maintain that pressure.  If you value public education, please consider running for School Trustee. Our children and grandchildren deserve a better-funded public education system.

Kevin Frankham, Local Elections Chair
Michele Wiebe, President Peace River North Teachers’ Association

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Congratulations teachers! We have stuck to our guns and will be voting on contract ratification on Thursday!   (Polling details TBA)
Despite all the talk in the media, we do not yet have any of the tentative language that we will be voting on. Michele will get that out to us as soon as possible!
We understand that discussions regarding a 'return to work' plan are on-going - please DO NOT go in to your school before the details are determined!
We will continue to maintain picket lines today and tomorrow.

Monday, 15 September 2014


The Peace River North Teachers’ Association will make available interest-free loans to those members whose financial situation has reached an EMERGENCY level as a result of a recent strike or general hardship.

Applications open September 15th 8:00am and close September 21, 10:00pm. Time stamp will not impact decisions.

 We anticipate cheques being available by Tuesday, September 23rd.

Each application will be assessed on its own merit.

The maximum amount for a loan based on availability of funds is $1000

The terms of repayment are as follows:
* To be paid back by June 30, 2015
* Or, if leaving the district prior to June 30, 2015, to be paid in full before you leave

Priority for applications will be given in the following order:
* Single parent/ single income parent with dependents living at home
* Teaching couples with dependents living at home
* Other teachers, based on need

We will try to accommodate as many applicants as possible; therefore, your requested amounts may not be fully funded.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Financial Support via BCTF Advantage:

Earlier this summer we advised members that our Advantage partner, Ellis Mortgages Canada (EMC) was available to provide a free service to BCTF members to assist them through this difficult period.  EMC is a financial services firm that may be able to assist current homeowners with restructuring their debt in a variety of ways:
·       reduce mortgage payments
·       access funds for short or long term needs
·       reduce or eliminate credit cards and loan debt
·       arrange lines of credit
Over summer 2014, the average size for lines of credit for BCTF members has been around $25,000.  Deals have processed in as little as three days, typically taking about a week.  In 2013 EMC was able to save clients an average of $450 per month in regular mortgage payments (for those seeking to reduce monthly payments).

All BCTF members are encouraged to contact EMC to discuss your options in order to ensure you are making the best financial decisions.  EMC representatives can be reached at 1-604-739-0320.

Some BCTF members who have worked with EMC recently shared their thoughts on EMC:

"A high level of expertise and prompt, personal service—[we] trust our analyst to get the job done.  [Our broker] understood our financial situation precisely and was never judgmental.  Best rates anywhere!"

“This was my third mortgage with Ellis Mortgages and I have been completely impressed with the patience and time given to explain each step of the process and for the mortgage analyst to find out about my individual situation.  I felt the mortgage analyst genuinely cared to help obtain the best rates she could and had my best interest at heart.  This is very important to me when choosing who to do business with.  I am so sorry I didn't know about Ellis Mortgages earlier.  I highly recommend them and have no reservations about doing so.”

“Thank you EMC! Your staff consistently demonstrates professional, knowledgeable advice in a patient and personable manner. I feel confident refinancing my mortgage with your company.  My sincere thanks.”

“I appreciated [my broker’s] hand-holding and understanding during those days when I’d call every few hours.”

“Very hands on; kept me in the loop.  Very happy with the service, thank you!”

“My mortgage analyst saved me stress and time.  He was courteous, polite, and helpful.  He answered all my questions, was very patient, and generous with his time.”


Sarbrinder Lalli
Assistant Director
Income Security Division
British Columbia Teachers' Federation
Toll free: 1-800-663-9163 Local 1890

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Here is the link to the amazing YouTube video created by teachers!  FN teachers rock!
Please check out this Global TV interview.  Well worth watching!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

September 9, 2014

Have your say and vote tomorrow

Every BCTF member will have the chance to vote tomorrow to support the BCTF Executive Committee’s recommendation calling on BCPSEA to drop Article E.80 and enter into binding arbitration. Teachers would return to work once the government agrees to this process, meaning that schools could reopen promptly.

Support for binding arbitration is picking up speed throughout the province. Mayors, counsellors, school trustees, the NDP, and affiliated unions of the BC Federation of Labour are also calling on the government to enter into binding arbitration as a fair and practical way to resolve this dispute.

Each local will be conducting the vote in the way that suits them best. Some locals have decided to take ballot boxes to the picket lines while others will conduct the vote at local offices. If you are unsure of the voting arrangements in your community, please contact your local president for more information. Every vote counts, so please take the time to have your say.

Public sector unions write to Premier Clark: Stop using our settlements as fodder for your rhetoric

BC public sector unions are sending a message to the Premier that they stand in solidarity with BC teachers and are urging her to accept the proposal for binding arbitration.

 “The Premier is attempting to use other settlements in the public sector to create a divide among workers in the province,” said BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair.  “This tactic is not only an insult to working people in BC, but it also shows how little the Premier understands and respects the collective bargaining process.”

The letter states:

This set of negotiationslike every other table in the public sectorhas unique challenges and opportunities. Each union goes to the bargaining table to address their own specific needs; we strongly support the BCTF in determining their own path and negotiating for a fair collective agreement that ensures quality education for all of the children in BC.

We have each negotiated our own collective agreements. For those who have settled, wage increases and benefit improvements varied from sector to sector. They all have unique features and each path to settlement was different.

We urge you to immediately stop attributing your refusal to bargain critical issues with teachers because you want to be “fair to other public sector workers.”
If you want to be fair to all public sector workers, send the outstanding issues to binding arbitration as proposed by the BCTF and remove E80 from the bargaining table.

Our unions stand in solidarity with BC teachers in their efforts to win a fair collective agreement and improve educational resources for BC’s children.

Read their letter in full here.