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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 4, January/February 2005

TOC call-out systems—the need for objectivity

by Kendra Litke

BCTF policy 49.19 states the following:

(a) That the BCTF encourage locals through mid-contract modifications, to secure contract language that provides for an objective TOC callout procedure.

(b) That the BCTF locals be encouraged to seek elimination of the practice of contract teachers calling out, selecting, or expressing a preference for particular TOCs to fill a teacher absence.

The rationale for the policy is based on five principles:

  1. Professionalism
  2. Code of ethics
  3. Solidarity
  4. Workplace rights
  5. Social justice

Current practice
There exists in some districts a common practice of contract teachers calling out, selecting, or expressing a preference for particular TOCs to fill a teacher absence. This is either done directly or through programming the preferred teacher into an automated dispatch system. This practice, based upon informal evaluations of teachers by their own colleagues, results in inequities among our members.

TOCs are required to have the same professional qualifications as contract teachers and are hired as teachers on that basis and in the same manner. For contract teachers to express a preference among TOCs undermines our professionalism.

BCTF Code of Ethics
Provision 5 of the BCTF Code of Ethics declares it inappropriate for members to openly critique the teaching performance and related work of a colleague. Contract teachers rightly expect not to have their teaching performance openly ranked or evaluated by their peers. The selection of one TOC over another implies that a contract teacher has evaluated the performance of the TOC.

Divisions, competition, and power inequalities among the members of any trade union undermine the effectiveness of the trade union goals. By allowing a system where contract teachers express a preference for TOCs, an informal but nevertheless powerful employer-employee relationship is created. In addition, the need for TOCs to "sell themselves" creates competition between TOCs. This undermines both our solidarity and the dignity of our profession.

Workplace rights
Contract teachers have fought for, and rightly demand, due process.

In appointments to teaching positions, contract teachers rightly expect a clear objectivity based on seniority. This removes favouritism and nepotism in a process where the teacher’s livelihood is at stake. This transparency, due process, and accountability are great assurances for contract teachers. A callout is the livelihood of the TOC and, as teachers, TOCs deserve no less. When a contract teacher calls out, selects, or expresses a preference for a TOC, there is no transparency, no accountability, and no due process available to the TOC.

Social justice
In a preferential system, those TOCs who have the time, money and assertiveness to market themselves receive the most callouts. This puts those who are less aggressive, without transportation, or unable to bear additional childcare costs at a distinct disadvantage and runs counter to the BCTF principle of social justice.

In the last provincial bargaining round an objective (seniority based) callout procedure, along with seniority credit for each day worked, was demanded by the BCTF. It is difficult to ask our employer for something that we do not practice ourselves. Seniority-based callout along with accrual of seniority for each day worked will assist TOCs whose goal it is to become contract teachers.

Future practice
The 2003 Annual General Meeting passed the motion "That the BCTF investigate call-out procedure options and contract language to provide as models for locals..."

Three different models have been developed:

• Rotation—In this model, the board assigns TOCs on a rotating basis within their areas of qualification. The first person on the list is offered employment; the procedure continues until every TOC has been contacted and then the cycle repeats.

• Seniority by number of days—In this model, the board assigns TOCs on the basis of frequency of call-out. At the beginning of September, the number of days previously worked by each TOC is determined. The first offer of employment is made to the TOC with the most number of days and the necessary qualifications. The process continues until every TOC has been contacted.

• Seniority by date of hire—In this model, TOCs are assigned on the basis of seniority, calculated from date of hire. The first offer of employment is made to the TOC with the longest service and the necessary qualifications. The process continued until every TOC has been contacted.

It is time for TOCs to be hired for assignments in the same manner as contract teachers.

You can visit the new BCTF TOC page at www.bctf.ca/toc/.

Kendra Litke is a member of the Teacher on Call and Underemployed Advisory Committee.

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