Teachers reach tentative contract agreement with ‘gun to their head’

Teachers are "surprised" and "pleased" a tentative agreement with their employer has been reached.

Teachers are “surprised” and “pleased” a tentative agreement with their employer has been reached, according to Comox District Teachers’ Association president Steve Stanley.

But, he also warns, the deal is not done.

“Well, they were surprised, first of all, and pleased that they (B.C. Teachers’ Federation and B.C. Public School Employers’ Association bargaining teams) were able to reach an agreement,” said Stanley. “The deal itself leaves lots of questions unanswered about salary, and prep time, and class size and composition issues.

“There’s seems to be some mixed reviews around the province in talking to different people (teachers) so it’ll be interesting to see if it even is ratified or not.”

The tentative agreement between the BCTF and the BCPSEA was reached Tuesday evening after weeks of talks with government-appointed mediator Dr. Charles Jago.

Teachers started voting on ratification Wednesday with voting wrapping up today (Friday). The BCPSEA has set Wednesday July 4 as its ratification voting day.

If ratified, the net-zero contract would extend to July 1 next year, allowing for a more stable school-year for 2012/2013.

“Next year could look like a more peaceful, more calm, more stable kind of situation,” said Stanley, adding he doesn’t know whether individual teachers would go back to doing all of the extracurricular activities they have in the past or not. “But at least we won’t feel like we have that kind of pressure of the bargaining table or the strike or other job action so that feels a lot better.

“This year has been a trying year for everyone, for parents, students, teachers as well, and a lot of extra work on the administrators so I think we’ll be in a much better place next year and having any kind of stability’s going to be a good thing.”

Teachers have been without a contract for over a year, and during the school-year teachers took Phase One limited job action from September to March, held a three-day full-scale walkout, passed a provincewide action plan including withdrawal from extracurricular activities, and both sides brought actions before the Labour Relations Board.

BCPSEA chair Melanie Joy urged the province’s boards of education and teachers to carefully consider the tentative agreement, and said she hopes both groups will decide it’s a reasonable agreement at this time, according to a BCPSEA news release.

“For a variety of reasons it’s been a challenging round of bargaining, but we always believed that if the parties could get down to focused discussions at the table, a negotiated deal was possible,” Joy said. “There’s no question that an agreement reached by the parties is always the best resolution, and that was always BCPSEA’s objective.

“We hope that boards and teachers will ratify this agreement and that we can all look forward to the new school year in September with a focus on what’s really important — delivering the best possible educational experience for our students.”

Jago had until the end of this month to try to help the two parties reach an agreement, and Education Minister George Abbott had earlier stated if an agreement was not reached before the school-year starts, an imposed contract would likely be put into place.

Stanley noted the pressure was on to come up with an agreement.

“It feels a little bit like having a gun to your head — if you don’t do this than you get that — so there was a lot of pressure on kind of both sides to do it,” he said. “At least (the tentative agreement) means that the control over the deal was in the hands of the bargaining team — and not back to the legislation — because that was what it looked like was going to happen.”

Meanwhile, teachers are continuing their resistance to Bill 22 — which imposed a cooling off period earlier in the spring and made any striking illegal. Wednesday, the BCTF filed a civil claim in the B.C. Supreme Court regarding the bill.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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

Just Posted

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

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

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to winds, adverse weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Most Read