Email from BCTF executive to members urging ratification of today’s agreement:
More teachers, better support for kids, court case protected
By now, you have undoubtedly heard that the BCTF and BCPSEA reached a tentative agreement in the early hours of this morning. The Federation’s Executive Committee is recommending that members vote yes. If ratified by a majority of teachers, the vote will bring an end to the strike/lockout.
BCTF President Jim Iker said there several reasons he and the other Executive Committee members are supporting ratification:
Concession demands are off the table
Your bargaining team has negotiated an agreement that does not contain a single concession. In this day and age of concessionary bargaining, that is a significant achievement in itself.
Among the employer’s concessions that were removed from the bargaining table, one of the most important is BCPSEA’s calendar proposal that would have given school districts the ability to change school calendars without local union approval.
Government withdrew Article E80
Because of all the action and lobbying by teachers, other unions, parents, and concerned citizens, there was tremendous pressure on the government to drop this unjust demand. Article E80 was an attempt to bargain around the Supreme Court decisions, and British Columbians agreed that no one should have to give up their rights to get a collective agreement.
Dollars into a new Education Fund mean more teaching jobs
The proposed agreement provides $400 million for hiring of specialist and classroom teachers over the life of the six-year agreement. Every dollar in this annual fund will be used to hire BCTF bargaining unit members. We estimate that about 850 additional teaching positions will be created province-wide each year for the life of this agreement.
A salary increase for teachers
The proposed agreement includes salary increases of 7.25% over six years. No co-operative gains or other monetary concessions were made in order to obtain this gain in salary.
In addition, the tentative agreement includes $105 million to cover the retroactive grievances. The Executive Committee will decide the fairest way to share this money amongst members.
Prep time and benefits also are improved
Preparation time for elementary teachers increases to 100 minutes per week effective immediately, with an additional 10 minutes in the last year of the agreement. In addition there are improved dental and extended health benefits.
BCTF President Jim Iker’s message to members today:
“From day one, the government tried to paint us as unreasonable people who only had ourselves in mind. Each step of the way, we refuted their arguments and repeated our goal which was to achieve a fair deal for teachers and better support for our students,” Iker said. “It is difficult to reverse 12 years of underfunding and the erosion of public education in one round of bargaining, but we have taken a big step in the right direction.
“Thank you, colleagues, for your commitment, courage, and sustained action over the last few months. We began Stage 1 of our job action in the middle of April, went to rotating strikes in mid-May, escalated to all-out strike in mid-June and continued into mid-September. Throughout all this time, you’ve been an inspiration. Thank you for everything you did and will continue to do to strengthen public education for all students.
“And to our CUPE colleagues: everyday you were with us on the line, supporting us and speaking out for public education. Together we can go back to our schools and workplaces knowing we are stronger because of our day-to-day solidarity during this strike and lockout.
“I also want to thank the BC Federation of Labour, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and the many other unions in BC, across Canada, and throughout the world for their ongoing solidarity. Not only did you walk our picket lines, help organize and attend rallies, many of you also dug deep into your pockets to ensure that we would have the financial resources to achieve our goals.
“The tremendous community support from so many parents, students, and local businesses also played a pivotal role as more and more British Columbians joined picket lines, lobbied elected officials, and attended marches and rallies. This collective outpouring of solidarity shows that when we act in concert we can turn the clock forward, not back.
“Now I encourage all members to take the time to read the proposed agreement, discuss it with your colleagues, and take part in this important vote.”
More information to come
The full text of the tentative agreement will be available on the BCTF website as soon as possible. Please check the member portal for updates. Your local will be in touch with the details of where and when the ratification vote will take place in your community.