Tuesday, 24 June 2014

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.

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