As a teacher, I am very concerned that during 62 meetings since last June with the government’s bargaining team, BCSPEA, they have offered nothing. The BCTF has dropped many of their demands in good faith.
As teachers we have spent most of our union dues in courts fighting this government’s class size increases and the increase in special needs student ratios in each classroom.
Special needs include categories such as ESL, learning disabilities, severe behaviors, physical disabilities, autism and more. Some classrooms now have one in three students requiring special attention while special education teacher and SEA jobs have been cut. Yet BCSPEA is demanding the following conditions:
• Administrative officers will be able to terminate a teacher’s employment based on a single performance review.
• Potentially, any teacher could be transferred year-after-year, teachers could be transferred to another community and interim positions could be filled without posting.
• Although other unions such as the police and nurses have received raises this year, we are being offered zero per cent.
• Teachers in BC are among the lowest paid teachers in Canada. Yet salary increases continue at the top level of management.
As reported in the media recently, superintendents are making over $200,000 per year. Some secondary principals are receiving $50,000 more in salary than the highest paid teacher in the same school.
The LRB has ruled that teachers can legally take strike action. After 62 stalled bargaining meetings, teachers are feeling discouraged. The union is beginning to discuss further action – soon.