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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 16, Number 5, April 2004

AGM 2004: Plans for a brighter future

by Peter Owens

Almost 700 representatives of teachers from around the province attended the 88th BCTF Annual General Meeting, March 13 to 16, 2004. It was the first AGM in recent memory without additional evening sessions for debating all the recommendations and resolutions. Although this year’s AGM had fewer sessions, it made some significant decisions.

New president
Jinny Sims, a Nanaimo teacher, was elected president of the BCTF. Sims, who is currently the first-vice president, will take office on July 1, 2004. Irene Lanzinger was elected first vice-president, and Susan Lambert was elected second vice-president. The election of the three women as FTTOs is a first in the BCTF’s history.

BCTF dues
One of the responsibilities of the AGM is to set the BCTF dues for the upcoming year. The AGM decided to keep the dues at the same level as this year.

Priorities for next year
The 2004 Annual General Meeting adopted priorities for the BCTF for next year. The goal adopted by the delegates is that the BCTF and its members seek to participate with others in building an inclusive, just, and compassionate civil society both locally and globally. The priorities include:

  • maintaining and advancing the professional rights of teachers
  • taking care of our children
  • maintaining a quality public education system
  • building healthy, inclusive, and participatory communities
  • advocating responsible assessment practices.

Funds to defend public education
The AGM decided to transfer funds from the Collective Bargaining Defence Fund to the Public Education Defence Fund. The AGM approved the transfer of $260,000 in the 2003–04 fiscal year and up to $5 million in the 2004–05 fiscal year. The 2004–05 transfers will be authorized by the Representative Assembly.

The AGM endorsed a campaign leading up to the May 17, 2005, provincial election. The campaign will build member participation, involve teacher locals, and have a provincial component. The campaign will:

  • promote a statement of commitment to public education.
  • advance clear positions and messages on public education and public services.
  • ensure a high level of membership involvement.
  • co-ordinate efforts with community groups and other unions.
  • promote the principles of the Charter for Publ.ic Education.

The goal of the campaign is to ensure that quality public education is a priority in the next provincial election. Our communities need MLAs supportive of quality public education. Our children deserve nothing less.

Two-thirds elected college councillors
The 2004 BCTF AGM decided that the BCTF should insist that two-thirds of the college councillors be elected by teachers.

It takes two-thirds of the councillors to change college by-laws, so the delegates to the AGM felt that it is imperative that elected representatives of the profession control the professional body.

The AGM called for talks with the government to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Outstanding issues are the number of college councillors who will be elected by members of the college, the unreasonable duty to report on colleagues, and the inordinate number of by-laws passed by the political appointees on the council.

If talks fail, the AGM called for a refusal to pay next year’s college fee and to pay once again into the BCTF Democratic College Fund. The political appointees have indicated that they plan to change the date for collecting fees and plan to collect next year’s fee as early as May 2004.

Welfare legislation The AGM called on the provincial government to rescind legislation placing limits on welfare recipients and reducing benefits for people on social assistance.

The AGM opposed the elimination or reduction of services to children and families in B.C. including, but not limited to, the closure of women’s centres, courthouses, and schools, and the reduction of services for childcare, foster care, and students with special needs.

Teacher-librarians AGM delegates also decided to call upon the minister of education to reinstate teacher-librarian time in schools to that of the previous collective-agreement levels, and to ensure that every school in B.C. has a teacher-librarian. This government states that it values literacy and at the same time it cuts the services necessary to accomplish it.

Peter Owens is assistant director in the BCTF’s Communications and Campaigns Division and editor of Teacher.

For impressions from delegates to the 2004 AGM, go to www.bctf.ca.

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