Why I’m Voting Yes
by Angela Marcakis
Our number 1 priority from the membership was salary, and the bargaining team achieved that without any job action! We can thank BCGEU for striking and getting labour unions a higher salary offer. Over 90,000 labour workers have now ratified and include “me too” clauses in their agreements. It would be very difficult to get the government to give us more at the risk of having to renegotiate those deals.
The 11-14% raise will increase pensions and TTOC pay rates. It doubles our pro-d funds. Teachers in Surrey gain about $6,000 in maternity benefits – other locals up to $19,000! You know the media and general public would not be in support of us asking for more when teachers would be making 6 figures while “getting summers and holidays off.”
There are no improvements to working conditions, but there are no concessions either. I attended a bargaining session and the employer was steadfast on not giving any improvements unless we start from scratch. The provincial bargaining team has been clear: this is the best potential deal we can achieve this round and it is recommended by our BCTF Executive.
If you are planning to vote no, are you confident our BCTF membership at large will deliver an overwhelming strike vote (90+%) to empower our bargaining committee? I’m not. I’ve spoken to many members across Surrey and BC, and many cannot afford to strike. We can’t expect the bargaining team to go back to the table with nothing more and our members to risk their financial security.
I do agree that working conditions are important and think this should be our focus for the next round of bargaining. Even if we achieve better language to reduce workloads, who would fill the positions? We need higher salaries to attract teachers to BC.
Is it perfect? No. Is it good? Well, it’s more than we’ve gotten in last rounds. Is it enough? It’s never enough. However, as one of the Local Representatives to the BCTF, I’ve been watching and believe this is the best we can get at this time
Why I’m Voting No
by Megan McGarry
I am a third-year teacher, getting paid at step 1 due to part-time contracts in my first year. While the prospect of 2%-6.75% per year increases to pay is enticing, the working conditions being ignored in this tentative agreement will have me voting no.
I will admit, the proposed healthcare additions are exciting and should be kept in whichever contract we end up with. The increases in physical health benefits, salary protections for pregnancies and maternity leaves, and the expansion of access to counselling services are vital.
But the working conditions of myself and my colleagues—and importantly, the learning conditions of our students—cannot be left out of the deal.
What was the point of going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada if we are happy to just put class size and composition aside? Our classes are often too full—either with the number of students or the number of needs.
‘Remedy’ was meant to be a temporary fix and yet six years later it is still here, with districts applying it unevenly: some teachers can take money to buy professional development or classroom resources, some are only offered recovery time (which rarely gets paid out anyways because of the major shortage on TTOCs). And no matter how remedy is applied, it doesn’t really serve the students currently in our classes.
Our classrooms are dysfunctional, and teachers are taking leaves (or leaving permanently) at unprecedented rates. We are being asked to do too much, with too little support. How does a top up at the top of the salary grid help those of us who quit before we even make it there? Keeping teachers happy and healthy by creating safe and effective classroom communities is a necessary path forward.
At this time, I cannot in good conscience vote ‘yes.’
Our students deserve better.
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