Monday Memo – February 27, 2012

MEMO TO: Staff Reps

COPIES TO: STA Executive Committee

FROM: Denise Moffatt, President

Date: February 27, 2012

Day of Action
Today is our Day of Action. A day to stand up for BC schools, students and teachers. A day to tell government that it is not okay to bully teachers with legislation. A day to remind the public that it has been teachers, not government, that have held the public education system together for the past ten years. A day to be proud to be a teacher and a member of the BCTF.

Lunch time meeting instructions
Please find attached instructions for the lunchtime meeting and supporting documents that you will need to prepare for the membership vote on Tuesday and Wednesday. There is an FAQ and Reasons to Vote Yes handout. Please reproduce both of these attached documents. No STA copy number? Record the number of copies and let us know, so we can compensate the employer.

Handouts for parents for 15 minute demonstration at school
At the recent DPAC general meeting, parents expressed a desire to hear from teachers and to receive more information about our job action. Two handouts are attached that can be handed to parents at the school. Choose the option that will best suit your community’s needs. One is simplified and the other more detailed. Again keep track of copies to bill to the STA.

Rally information
We’ve got a great line up and are expecting a huge turnout. BCTF President, Susan Lambert, BCFed President, Jim Sinclair, BC CCPA economist, Iglika Ivanova, CUPE 728, President, Janice Meehan, as well as STA President, Denise Moffatt will be speaking. There will also be musical entertainment by the Solidarity Notes choir. But who’s the real centre of this rally? Teachers. Let’s show government and BCPSEA that teachers are strong and united. Gather at 3pm, speakers at 3:30, Agriplex at the Cloverdale Rodeo Grounds. First 250 members will get great BCTF swag, t-shirts, toques or scarves.

Our efforts are working – BCPSEA agrees to mediation
Just prior to the 5pm deadline set by the LRB, BCPSEA reluctantly agreed to participate in mediation. (See attachment) They continue to insist that negotiations must be conducted within the net zero mandate despite the fact this is identified as the fundamental obstacle to the parties being able to conclude a collective agreement. There is no doubt that BCPSEA is reacting to the pressure we have created over the past few weeks through our media campaign, MLA lobby, and strike vote announcement. We need to keep the pressure on to encourage BCPSEA to make a fair deal at the table.

Why a membership vote to escalate before legislation?
Because we want to prevent legislation. We know government is likely to impose a contract in the next week or two. Once legislation is tabled in the house, it will be passed within a few days. Any legislation to impose a contract will hurt teachers. Legislation that contains strips would be devastating. We announced our vote before legislation so we are in a proactive rather than reactive position. A strong vote and rally will hopefully deter legislation and encourage government/BCPSEA to negotiate a fair deal.

What about Essential Services?
The vote only contemplates LRB approved job action. The BCTF made an application to the LRB to get approval to escalate job action on Friday. This application will result in a ruling that will define the scope of the escalation of job action. We expect the results next week.

What about Work to Rule?
Teachers have been asking about the option of a work to rule on the ballot. Work to rule was debated twice at Surrey General meetings and did not carry, once in November and again at last week’s general meeting. At last Wednesday’s meeting Surrey teachers defeated an amendment to recommend a work to rule and moved a motion to recommend to the BCTF executive a full withdrawal of service instead.

The BCTF executive met last week to determine the wording on the ballot and this has been communicated to members around the province. Our call for an escalation vote is working and is exerting the kind of pressure that is needed to get a settlement.

What if the legislation is carried?
Our vote only contemplates LRB approved job action. If legislation is carried by the government that imposes a contract, members will again be consulted and have a vote on how to proceed. Members would be informed of the potential consequences of any such action.

Membership Vote Information
A poster is attached with the details of the upcoming membership vote. Posters have been faxed to all school sites and a voice broadcast message was also sent to members on Saturday. Laura Barker is our returning officer. Questions about the process of the vote can be directed to her at 604-594-5353.

BC unions support teachers
BC unions have issued a joint statement through the BC Federation of Labour in support of teachers. The statement opposes a legislated contract and encourages government/BCPSEA to negotiate a fair settlement that respects and values teachers.

School trustees vote for mediation
On Saturday BC School Trustees’ Association passed a motion urging the government to engage in expedited mediation.
We’re also aware that, in response to local pressure, a number of boards have individually urged BCPSEA to embrace mediation.

BC Fed poll affirms public support for negotiation
“British Columbians are absolutely clear. They want government to negotiate a fair settlement with teachers, not to act unilaterally.” said BC Fed President Jim Sinclair. “With the employer and the union both agreeing to mediation, there is absolutely no reason for government to proceed with provocative legislation.”

Key findings in the poll include:
89% support for the appointment of an arbitrator, with the power to end the dispute
82% support for the appointment of a mediator
61% say teachers should hold out for at a least a cost of living increase, while only 32% believe teachers should accept zero
63% of parents believe that their children’s learning has not been affected negatively by the teachers’ job action

In the survey, a majority oppose the imposition of a contract on teachers, particularly if the legislated contract includes a wage freeze and/or concessions. The phone survey of 400 British Columbians was conducted by Environics on February 23 and 24. The survey is accurate to +/- 4.9%, at the 95% confidence level.

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012. Filed in Category: Monday Memos Staff Representatives