Teachers overwhelmingly approve strike action

Teachers in the Comox Valley and across the province have voted to take "teach-only" job action this September if there is no progress in provincial collective bargaining.
Ninety per cent of teachers across B.C. voted "yes" in a provincewide strike vote conducted June 24, 27 and 28.

Teachers in the Comox Valley and across the province have voted to take “teach-only” job action this September if there is no progress in provincial collective bargaining.

Ninety per cent of teachers across B.C. voted “yes” in a provincewide strike vote conducted June 24, 27 and 28.

In all, 28,128 teachers cast their ballots, with 25,282 voting “yes,” according to a news release from the Comox District Teachers’ Association (CDTA).

About 70 per cent of teachers in schools and teachers teaching on call participated in the vote, it noted.

Failing progress in bargaining, job action in the form of a “teach-only” campaign would begin Tuesday, Sept. 6 — the first day of the next school year.

CDTA president Steve Stanley is not releasing the local numbers but says CDTA members turned out in large numbers for the strike vote, and the percentage of members who voted  “yes” was even higher than the provincial number.

“We had a very strong mandate,” he said.

Stanley wants to reassure parents and students that classes will still be running, and teachers will still be teaching in September.

“They shouldn’t notice any differences, except teachers might have more time for students because they’re not doing the administrative stuff,” he said.

The “teach-only” action would see teachers in class, teaching students but not performing administrative duties such as entering information on computer databases, meeting with administrators and administering mandated tests.

Susan Lambert, president of the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF), said the strong “yes” vote shows that teachers are united and are prepared to take action to achieve their goals of improved teaching and learning conditions, fair improvements to salary and benefits, and restoration of local bargaining rights.

“Facing a concerted campaign by the government and the employer to turn back the clock on teachers’ rights and reverse hard-won provisions on due process, we have no choice but to take a stand for ourselves, our students and our profession,” Lambert stated in the release. “The employer is offering nothing and at the same time demanding we make many significant concessions. That’s not collective bargaining. It’s just bullying.”

Stanley echoed Lambert’s statement.

“This strike vote shows that teachers across the province are united and very determined to stand up for their rights and they want to see improvements to their collective agreement in this round of bargaining,” he said.

Class size and composition are part of that as well, noted Stanley.

Provincial collective bargaining between the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), representing the province’s 60 public school boards of education, and the BCTF, representing the province’s public school teachers, began March 1.

“We’re hoping this (strike vote) means the government will take us more seriously and negotiate in the summer and try to reach a collective agreement before school starts in the summer,” said Stanley.

Hugh Finlayson, CEO of the BCPSEA, is concerned by the teachers’ strike vote.

“I think in terms of what happens from here, the parties need to sit down and put real effort into a collective agreement,” he said. “Our concern is if you have a strike vote and have all the rhetoric around a strike vote, the next place to go, for me, would be continued tough negotiations because the parties should be committed to a collective agreement by Sept. 1.”

The BCTF has monetary proposals on the table that are estimated to total $2 billion — which covers everything from leaves of absence to discretionary leave and to changes in sick time and preparation time, explained Finlayson.

“You have to take a step back and say this is a time for reason,” he said. “If you have a strike vote … you’ve got to be realistic about what you are looking at. We are concerned and also looking at the summer and saying there is opportunity to continue negotiations with the goal of getting a collective agreement, which is our goal.”

“Now that we’ve had the rhetoric surrounding the strike vote, it’s time to get serious about getting a collective agreement and time to get serious about the $2 billion in proposals,” he added. “I think with focus and commitment, the parties should be able to reach an agreement.”

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Many of the static aircraft displays are decorated in thousands of lights for almost the entire month of December at the airpark on Military Row in Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
VIDEO: Christmas lights on display at 19 Wing airpark

Per COVID-19 rules, viewing of the display is strongly encouraged by vehicle and not exiting the car

GP Vanier grad Samantha Rebitt has earned the 2020 Governor General’s Academic Medal, with an academic average of 99.8 per cent. Photo supplied
GP Vanier announces its 2020 Governor General’s Academic Medal winner

Samantha Rebitt had a near-perfect 99.8 per cent academic average

The suspect in a Nov. 22 attempted robbery at the Ryan Road 7-Eleven has been arrested. Photo supplied
Courtenay man arrested in connection with attempted robbery at 7-Eleven

A 19-year old Courtenay man has been arrested following an attempted robbery… Continue reading

The Nov. 20 WestJet flight 3171 has been identified by the BC Centre for Disease Control with a COVID case aboard. (Black Press file photo)
COVID-19 exposure reported on a fifth flight at Comox airport

Another exposure risk from flight originating in Calgary

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Letter to the editor.
LETTER – Horgan’s election promise of COVID relief cash is money foolishly spent

Dear editor, Would you dip into your child’s registered education fund to… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

The first of two earthquakes near Alaska on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, is shown in blue. (USGS)
No tsunami risk after two earthquakes near Alaska

Both earthquakes hit near the U.S. state on Dec. 1

The CVRD will reconsider its policies on fireworks after receiving complaints. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Regional District considers options for fireworks after complaints

Distict only allows fireworks on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, with a permit

Most Read