Friday, June 30, 2006

From the Desk of Edward Itorial - Never Mind the Posturing...Here's the Signing Deadline

So here we are. Less than 18 hours remain in the negotiations between the BC Government and the BCTF. Only hours until we know if the teachers receive their signing bonus (around $3,700 each), a new contract with a minimum 10% raise over four years or if the BCTF have taken students, parents and teachers hostage for a second straight year.
Two parties who have never gotten along - the BCTF and ANY BC Government - are now down to the last hours to hammer out an agreement which will determine whether or not the children of BC will be in the classrooms come September. This co-dependant "Sid and Nancy" type of relationship on the whole is destructive but they keep coming back to each other. Why is this happening?
The BCTF started out talking about "class size and composition" the Government introduced and passed Bill 33 on May 12th which even the BCTF acknowledged was as positive "...step towards this goal" of improving class size and composition. The Government post their offer of 8% over four years. However, on April 21st it was leaked to the media that Jinny and her group were looking for a 24% increase over three years. A contract which far exceed any other public service contract signed by the Government with every single public service union before the deadlines.
Around April 24th, the BCTF announce that the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests have a negative impact on students and teachers and even go so far as to produce a brochure to encourage parents to keep their children home during the eleven days of tests. Well, the tests went ahead without a single mortality.
On May 19th the BCTF announced they would be holding a strike vote on June 7th and 8th. What?! During negotiations this union who profess that "every kid counts" decide to hold a strike vote. This tells BC's parents and students that for the next three weeks the union is at the table negotiating in bad faith.
Over the next 10 days, this intrepid Poly is flooded with emails and faxes from teachers sharing stories of intimidation (union reps calling them on the cell phones and late at night at home reminding them of the upcoming vote) and the fact that they do not feel properly represented by the mob tactics of the BCTF.
May 31st sees the BCTF release a memo to the teachers (page 1 and page 2) which makes absolutely no mention of "class size and composition" and focuses exclusively on the demand of a 24% pay hike as is seen in the line "...salary increase is a high priority for BCTF members."
On June 1st, we publish a secret document from the BCTF outlining their strike plan. So to review, the BCTF are in negotiations for a better contract based on "class size and composition"; they ask for a 24% increase; and then while at the table, they take a strike vote after they have drawn up plans to go on strike in September.
In the days leading up to the strike vote, our airwaves and newspapers have ads from the BCTF asking for a "fair settlement". What does a fair settlement mean? Well, publicly the BCTF still talk about "class size and composition" however at the negotiating table they demand 24%. Ironically, the BCTF file a complaint with the Labour Relations Board (LRB) on June 5th to complain that the employeer was not bargaining in good faith. Of course on June 15th, the LRB dismisses the BCTF complaint.
The strike vote comes back at 85.2% (with just over half the teachers actually voting) - after the BCTF call teachers at home on their cells and email them to remind them of their "obligation to support the goals of the BCTF" and the need to "look the employer in the eye and vote to strike" if the 24% pay raise is not granted. Teachers are told, "we have come too far down this path so in order to save face we have to strike if we do not get our 24% raise."
June 19th sees the BCTF revise their demand down to 19% over three years. Two days later the Government counters with 10% over four years - up two percentage points.
The Government, tired of the misinformation put out by the BCTF, take out full page newspaper ads and radio spots on June 28th to update the public on the negotiations and use some examples of salary increases (admittedly, some fuzzy math is used). The BCTF are livid for the Government putting out ads during the negotiations. Of course the BCTF putting out ads, holding a strike vote and formulating a strike plan are OK. Ads from the Government with facts - are not.
So where are we now with only hours to go before the deadline and the teachers lose their signing bonus?
A new offer was sent to the BCTF late last night. In fact, both sides met through the night. This is a good sign. I hope the BCTF understands that there is no teacher shortage in BC as there is in other provinces, so the idea of "supply and demand" will influence pay. This holds true when the BCTF compares their bargaining to the nurses and HEU. This is not a fair comparison since the BCTF's friends at the NDP created the nurse shortage by eliminating almost 1,600 full-time nursing positions and not providing any school spots for nurses in the 1990's. Again, there is no teacher shortage so the comparison is wrong.
My opinion is that the offer which should be offered and accepted is 13% over four years or 17% over five years. This shows a give and take on both slides and guarantees labour peace and stability for our teachers, parents and students.
So what will happen? Hopefully both Sid (the Government) and Nancy (BCTF) can get this done before the deadline with a minimal amount of conflict and bloodshed. Unlike the real Sid and Nancy...and the past with the Government and BCTF.
We will have the results from the negotiations as soon as there is something to report - even if it occurs after midnight. Keep checking back here or sign up for our email notifications by clicking here.


Blogger frank said...

Great recap Edward. Thanks.

My guess:

BCTF union does not settle. Jinny tells them she will pay the Bonus anyway. They are locked out or on strike come September 1st. It Lasts 2 days. Government legislates an agreement and back to work order.

What SHOULD happen:

A) They should settle today.

B) They don't: The Government grants "right to work". Some brave teachers start a new Professional Association and over 40% choose to join and open our Schools in September and forge a "new relationship" with Government. New bargaining process is brought in and Government agrees to work with teachers on improving outcomes based on research and fact. They explore early childhood learning (a pre K year in school) and other measurable outcome programs. Both Government and new association do a joint press announcement that they will work to increase literacy (Can you read) by targeting efforts where they are most needed.

The BCTF? - 30% remain in the BCTF and are forced back to work by the legislation. It's very bumpy at first but most soon realise that what the new association has done is what they really wanted all along. They are too stubborn to go over so they change the BCTF from within and it soon reflects the new association.

The other 30%? - Some go back to work with the BCTF and very few join the new organisation. The rest are fired and replaced over the first 2 - 4 months of the year.

Now we have given teachers a choice of who will represent them. These two organizations compete for membership and so are forced to do what's best for teachers and drop any political agenda.

That's what should happen.

Friday, June 30, 2006 9:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Glenochio said...

Good summary of the dispute. If there's one thing I learned in gov't (well, besides learning that ferries ain't so easy to build) is that the pesky BCTF doesn't like to cooperate.

If I was a betting man I'd put $3700 dollars on no bonus for the teachers. But I stay away from casinos these days...last time I got involved with one it got a bit messy...

Gotta go, don't want Jimmy to see me typing - there's signs to be sold!!

Friday, June 30, 2006 9:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Working Man said...

Way to go Frank! Finally someone with balls enough to say we should look at "Right to Work" laws (ie: unions can't force people to pay union due in order to work).

I have no doubt in my mind that the silent majority of moderate teachers want a settlement.

Considering a lot of teachers are married to other teachers, that is $3700 x 2. That is a pretty good chunk of money. On top of that, a 10% (probably will end up at 12%) pay increase is a great deal. That is on the higher end of public sector contract settlements.

My advice to the BCTF is let the teachers vote on the bonus and pay increase. They'll ratify and labour peace will be complete in BC (and all it took was Gordon Campbell and a BC Liberal government to do it).

Friday, June 30, 2006 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Used to be a teacher said...

The BCTF . . inflicting socialism on us one contract at at time, one class of students at a time, one idiotic contract demand at a time.

I'll predict they will NOT settle by midnight.

Too many gung ho commie wannebes in the leadership to admit "defeat" . . .

Friday, June 30, 2006 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would hazard a guess that most people including the Teacher's Federtion would simply ignore the so called wisdom of you folks.

As for strikes. People struck long before there were unions and to remove the right to strike in civilized countries sort of upset a lot of folks. Leave the negotiating to the two parties at the table. They are professionals and should be able to come up with a settlement. This blog will have real problems when the teachers and their so called employers settle. My God, then it will have to be the NDP and the BC Federation of Labour.Why no discuss the repeated derailments in BC since Gordo sold the BC rail which wasn't falling off the tracks as a regular occurance, and was making money for the citizens of BC at the same time.

Friday, June 30, 2006 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Glenochio said...

Good point anonymous, we should probably talk about how hot the economy is now, or the lowest unemployment rate in 30 yrs, or how much things have improved in the last 5 years.

The last thing we want to talk about is PathetiCats, Casinogate, Fudget-Budget, or how the NDP destroyed mining in BC, or how the NDP drove the provincial economy into the ground.

Friday, June 30, 2006 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Reality Check said...

I always love blog commentors who say things like "why don't you talk about X, Y, or Z?"

If you want to talk about something, start your own blog and build your own readership like BC Poly has done.

It's their private blog, not a city council meeting or session of Parliament. They don't have to talk about your pet issue - they have free license to talk about whatever they want.

Nice try, Anon, but your rhetorical trick doesn't fly.

Friday, June 30, 2006 1:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How was Poly flooded with faxes from teachers if Poly has never published a fax number?

Friday, June 30, 2006 2:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How was poly flooded with faxes when it doesn't have a fax number?
Maybe they are coming to poly through someone's office. But who? Whoever it is also has inside information about the government offering a new deal to teachers last night. Wwho would that be? There couldn't possibly be a link between BC Poly Blog and an MLA office.

Friday, June 30, 2006 2:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I contacted the BC Ploy Blog to share my displeasure with the BCTF amd to offer various documents, Poly reponded with a fax number which had an area code based in the US. Not sure what that means but I am glad the Poly is exposing the BCTF for their ruthless and tasteless behaviour.

Friday, June 30, 2006 4:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 2:59

Gosh, Golly do you think this blog is somehow connected to the Liberal/Socred/reform etc party in any way. We sort of thought it was simply a guy who hates anything left or presumed to be left of Attila the Hun. But you have a good point, that is if we are allowed to discuss it. So how come this little blog knows more about the negotations than any news outfit. Did he make it up, or as you suggest a connection. Hey Gordo you are now uncovered and your name is Edward Itorial

Friday, June 30, 2006 4:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:04... would you mind posting that fax number here please?

Friday, June 30, 2006 4:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good idea, Anonymous. What is the fax number of bcpolyblog? Maybe Mr. Itorial may want to share it with us all. Unless he's gone into hiding because this blogger is so obviously busted!

Friday, June 30, 2006 5:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just gets better and better. Posters who hide behind the "Anonymous" handle demand to know who Itorial is and where he's posting from. What does it matter? Itorial could just as easily be a Viagra-crazed BCTF staffer afraid of union "discipline" as a privatization-crazed assistant to a Liberal MLA. What matters is that someone is willing to call BCTF on its bullshit. So far Poly has been pretty accurate and often fairly entertaining. Dippers and their union puppet-masters may be afraid of the truth, but that doesn't make it any the less true.
Remember the 90's. Never again.

Friday, June 30, 2006 7:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Itorial could just as easily be a Viagra-crazed BCTF staffer afraid of union "discipline" as a privatization-crazed assistant to a Liberal MLA.

Hello. Who said anything about an assistant to an MLA? Is that what you're saying. Well, you said yourself that tips on this blog are accurate...

Friday, June 30, 2006 9:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You folks really want an idea who this guy really is. Then try this guy.

And who is this Mr. Pederson you might ask? Well, according to Public Eye Online, he's the "communications and member services director" for the BC Liberal Party.

Saturday, July 01, 2006 1:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contrary to the opinions of the right wingers on this blog, a tentative agreement with the teachers has occured. And yes neither side got all they wanted.

It's called negotiations.

Saturday, July 01, 2006 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Negotiations? Jenny issued demands, made public statements, ranted and raved but negotiation was never part of her agenda. This deal came together despite Jenny, not because of her.

The BCTF should be flushed like a toilet... for the same reason...

Monday, July 03, 2006 7:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the BC Liberals could be flushed like a toilet for that very same reason.

Monday, July 03, 2006 10:51:00 PM  

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