How the BC Teachers’ Federation helps
Structure, decision-making, and services
Annual General Meeting (AGM)
The AGM is the sovereign decision-making body of the Federation. It is made up of Local Representatives (see RA below), one or more delegates elected by each local on a per-capita basis and the members of the BCTF Executive Committee, totaling approximately 680 voting participants. The AGM meets for 3.5 days during Spring Break and decides the BCTF priorities, policies and procedures, elects the Executive Committee, and sets the fees for the coming year. If you wish to attend an AGM as a delegate, please speak to your staff rep or contact your local teachers’ association.
Representative Assembly (RA)
The RA regularly meets three times a year to advise the Executive Committee (EC), receive reports and adopt a detailed budget based on the fee set by the AGM. The RA is made up of approximately 120 voting Local Representatives, plus the Local Presidents and the BCTF Executive Committee. To become a local representative, you must be a member of the local's executive committee.
Executive Committee (EC)
The Executive Committee is made up of 11 active members elected at the AGM. It is responsible for the business of the Federation, between RA and AGM meetings and has other specific duties assigned. The EC has one or two regularly scheduled meetings per month, with the exception of July.
Full-Time Table Officers (FTTOs)
The president, first vice-president, and second vice-president are released full time from their teaching duties to represent the 41,000 members on a day-to-day basis. The president is responsible for the general supervision of all matters and affairs of the Federation and is the official spokesperson for the BCTF.
The Executive Director works with the FTTOs and advises the Executive Committee, Representative Assembly, and Annual General Meeting, and is responsible for assigning duties and directing the work of the Federation’s administrative, support and excluded staff.
Locals represent teachers in each school district in the province with each local having its own elected president and executive committee, constitution and procedures. Each is a local of the BCTF but has a high degree of autonomy on local matters.
Advisory committees are made up of active members formally appointed by the Executive Committee. They provide advice to the BCTF Executive Committee, play a leadership role within the Federation, and, in a number of cases, provide support to local contacts. To become a member of an advisory committee, you must submit your application to the BCTF. A call for new advisory committee members usually goes out in the spring.
Advisory committees within the BCTF
- Committee for Action on Social Justice—CASJ
CASJ action groups
- environmental justice
- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ)
- peace and global education
- status of women.
- Professional Issues Advisory Committee—PIAC
- Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee—AEAC
- Adult Education Advisory Committee—AEAC
- Advisory Committee on French Programs and Services—ACFPS
- Provincial Specialist Association Council—PSAC
- Teachers Teaching on Call Advisory Committee—TTOCAC
- Pensions Committee—PC
- Finance Committee—FC
- Income Security Committee—ISC
- Teacher Newsmagazine Advisory Board
- Health and Safety Advisory Committee—HSAC
- Working and Learning Conditions/Bargaining Advisory Committee—WLC/BAC
- WR Long International Solidarity Committee.
Organizational divisions within the BCTF
The BCTF offices and programs are organized into divisions and departments to provide effective services to members.
Field Service Division (FSD)—supports locals in bargaining, contract implementation and defence of member rights, assists locals with Federation campaigns and province-wide actions, advances the broad range of Federation services and programs in professional, health and safety, social justice, communications and outreach, etc., with local members and leadership.
Legal Services Department—has overall responsibility for Federation legal matters, including court cases on a range of matters, constitutional challenges, grievances/arbitrations, legal-aid provisions and teacher regulation matters.
Professional and Social Issues Division (PSID)—has responsibility for a wide range of professional matters such as curriculum, education policy, professional development, teacher education, teacher inquiry, mentorship and peer support. Co-ordinates the Provincial Specialist Associations (PSAs), the Social Justice Program, Aboriginal Education Program, French Programs and Services, programs for teachers teaching on call, for teachers new to teaching and for adult educators, organizes leadership training—Summer Conference, Federation Leadership Institute, and Facilitators’ Institute Training. The Training Department which is a component of PSID, offers an extensive teacher workshop program. Administers the Code of Ethics and co-ordinates the work of the Internal Mediation Service.
Communications and Campaigns Division (CCD)—has responsibility for BCTF campaigns, and internal and external communications, using both traditional and social media communication tools. Handles outreach to education partner groups, community groups and other unions. Co-ordinates political action, lobbying and advocacy initiatives. Co-ordinates production, mailing, and graphics.
Research and Technology Division (RT)—undertakes the Federation’s research projects and works jointly with other institutions on research projects. Co-ordinates information services and the website. Develops, implements, and supports the Federation’s technology systems and tools. Co-ordinates the BCTF international programs. Deals with education funding issues.
Income Security Division—has responsibility for the Salary Indemnity Plan, Health and Wellness Program (rehabilitation) and the Living with Balance (preventative) program. Co-ordinates the pensions program, provides information for members and fulfills the Federation’s obligations related to the Teacher Pension Plan. Co-ordinates the BCTF Health and Safety program for members and handles Workers’ Compensation appeals for members.
Finance and Administrative Services—has overall responsibility for the care of the Federation’s resources, including the dues, investments, funds, property, etc. Administers the budget and handles the accounting functions. Maintains membership records, handles reception, and the care and maintenance of the BCTF offices.
Human Resources Department—deals with all of the Federation’s obligations as an employer and handles the staff recruitment and training, salary/benefits, personnel, collective agreement and other labour relations issues related to this role. Handles the Federation’s privacy obligations and other organizational requirements.
Provincial Specialist Associations (PSAs)
PSAs foster professional development through a variety of means and provide members with:
- teaching/learning materials
- information on new teaching methods
- support for new teachers
- a network via local chapters (LSAs: local specialist associations)
- a collective voice to help shape BCTF direction and influence curriculum policies
- specialty publications—journals and newsletters
- support for exemplary practice.
PSAs host for members:
- annual general meetings
- annual conferences
- local or regional conferences.
If you are being inducted into the BCTF and your local teachers’ association, you are eligible as a new teacher or new TTOC to receive a free year’s membership in one PSA.
PSAs within the BCTF bctf.ca/PSAs.aspx
ABCDE Association of BC Drama Educators
AEA Aboriginal Education Association
AEGTCCBC Association for Educators of Gifted, Talented, and Creative Children in BC
APPIPC Association provinciale des professeurs d’immersion et du programme francophone
BCAEA BC Alternate Education Association
BCATA BC Art Teachers’ Association
BCAMT BC Association of Mathematics Teachers
BCATML BC Association of Teachers of Modern Languages
BCBEA BC Business Education Association
BCCA BC Culinary Arts Provincial Specialist Association
BCCLPSA BC Co-operative Learning Provincial Specialist Association
BCDEA BC Dance Educators’ Association
BCEDLPSA BC Educators for Distributed Learning
BCMEA BC Music Educators’ Association
BCPTA BC Primary Teachers’ Association
BCRTA BC Rural and Small Schools Teachers’ Association
BCSCA BC School Counsellors’ Association
BCScTA BC Science Teachers’ Association
BCSSTA BC Social Studies Teachers’ Association
BCTEA BC Technology Education Association
BCTELA BC Teachers of English Language Arts
BCTESOL BC Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
BCTLA BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association
CUEBC Computer-Using Educators of British Columbia
EAR Educators Against Racism
EEPSA Environmental Educators’ Provincial Specialist Association
LATA Learning Assistance Teachers’ Association
PAGE BC Teachers for Peace and Global Education
PEBC Physical Education British Columbia
PITA Provincial Intermediate Teachers’ Association
SEA Special Education Association
THESA Teachers of Home Economics Specialist Association
You may join as many PSAs as you wish. For a PSA online application, go to bctf.ca/JoinaPSA.
Professional and Social issues workshops
Workshops on a variety of topics are designed and delivered in English and French by BCTF facilitators. See your school PD representative or visit bctf.ca/ProfessionalDevelopment.aspx#workshops. To become a facilitator, please submit your application to the BCTF. A call for facilitators usually goes out in the spring and training occurs at the annual Facilitators’ Training Institute held in late August.
New teachers are celebrated and welcomed into the union (the BCTF and your local) usually at a general meeting or induction ceremony, although some locals hold a social event. You will receive materials that help you to know your rights, the Code of Ethics, and more. A great perk (limited to attendees) is a free membership to a PSA (Provincial Specialist Association) which can save you up to $80 and link you to a community of engaged, progressive professionals.
Your BCTF local is also a source of support and information on professional, contractual, and personnel matters. Find out who your school staff representative(s) are and what services are available through your local. Locate and read the collective agreement (bctf.ca/myBCTF/content.aspx?id=23113) and other material to find out how you can take part in your professional organization. Information regarding local funding for PD and in-service activities is available through your local. Talk to your local PD rep. Information regarding health and safety concerns is available through your local and your Health and Safety school representative.
a) Staying safe at work
All new and young workers are required by law to be given site specific occupational health and safety training. During the new and young workers’ training, teachers should be instructed on emergency procedures, including evacuation and lockdown; instruction on known hazards and risks; and instruction on hazard reporting. If you have not received this training, contact your staff rep or local president. No matter how minor an injury might seem, it is important to document it with your employer. For example, a paper cut can lead to a secondary infection and a twinge in your back from lifting textbooks may be indicative of a more serious injury.
The procedure for reporting an injury is:
- Inform an administrative officer of this injury or disease that you feel is work related. Make sure the information is documented. WCB requires that you report your injury as soon as practical, don’t delay.
- Make sure the appropriate person has filled in the first aid log at the worksite. Always get the log filled in no matter how minor the injury, as it may develop into something more serious.
- File a Workers’ Report of Injury or Occupational Disease to Employer. This is WCB Form 6A. The employer is required to file a Form 7 within three days of receiving the report from the member.
- At the same time you file the report to your employer, file an Application for Compensation and Report of Injury or Occupational Disease, Form 6 to WCB. If you are not sure about the questions seek help.
- Always copy Form 6A and Form 6 for the local union office. Always ask for help for the WCB claim’s process.
- Always report your injury or occupational disease to your doctor and request that the doctor file a Physicians First Report, Form 8 to WCB.
- A WCB officer should contact the worker after they have received Form 6.
- WorkSafeBC regulations require that each worksite must have a joint health and safety committee.
All teachers in British Columbia are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act and have four basic health and safety rights: the right to know, the right to participate, the right to refuse unsafe work, and the right to no discrimination. These rights are essential in a safe work environment.
The right to know
Teachers have the right to know what hazards are present in a workplace. Hazards can be physical (from slippery floor to missing guards on equipment) to psychological (including factors leading to stress or violence). The right to know is of a higher order than the student privacy rights. If a student is a violent risk to a school employee, everyone involved with that student has the right to know the risk that is posed. The right to know also includes access to health and safety information such as inspections and orders written by WCB on a workplace.
The right to participate
Teachers have the right to participate in the activities of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety committee. Participating in training as well as investigations and inspections of the worksite is also included in this right.
The right to no discrimination
The right to no discrimination, also called the right to no retaliation, protects the teacher from being disciplined from exercising their basic health and safety rights.
To go along with health and safety training and rights, all teachers have a duty to work safely, report hazards, and conduct their work in a way which does not create a risk to themselves or others.
There is so much to learn when you start out—every school district is a little different. New teachers are encouraged to attend the orientation session, usually presented jointly by the district and the union, where you can become familiar with people, places, and processes that you are likely to need to know about.
How the collective agreement helps
The BCTF is a dynamic union of professionals that has been shaped by its members for over 100 years.
Discrimination in the workplace
All public school teachers in the province are covered by the collective agreement between BCPSEA and the BCTF at the provincial level, and between their school district and their local at the local level. Every BCTF member’s collective agreement contains an article that refers to the employer’s obligation to ensure a non-sexist working environment. Likewise, nearly every collective agreement contains a provision that states that no employee shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or family status. A few go a step further by specifically mentioning gender identity.
This language was negotiated by BCTF locals on behalf of their members so that teachers could be themselves in their workplaces without being subjected to sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, ableism or other forms of discrimination. For example, Aboriginal teachers shouldn’t need to hide their heritage, or put up with racist remarks. LGBTQ teachers should expect to be safely “out” at work, acknowledge their families and loved ones without fear of reprisals or discrimination. Likewise with women, people of colour, and other equity-seeking groups.
The BC Human Rights Code also protects public school teachers from discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. Gender identity is also “read” into the code (though having it specifically listed would be an important step at a future date).
If you have a question about your collective agreement’s non-discrimination clause, contact your local office.