The BC Labour Relations Board has dismissed an application by the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) to compel teachers to do report cards and to fine the BC Teachers’ Federation 15 % of teachers’ salaries and benefits.
In his decision, the LRB’s Associate Chair of Adjudication, Michael Fleming, noted that both parties had agreed to the structure of the essential services order which is in place, and that none of the circumstances that gave rise to BCPSEA’s complaint were unforeseen or unpredictable. Fleming found that BCTF members are in full compliance with the order and there are no grounds to change it.
BCTF President Susan Lambert said: “Although report cards are an important tool, they are not essential. They are only one way in which teachers communicate students’ progress to parents. Face-to-face, phone conversations, e-mails, handwritten notes, quiz results sent home—many different kinds of informal communication are providing parents with a clear understanding of their children’s progress. Some parents have told us they feel better informed this way than with the traditional formal reporting.”
The LRB agreed that “BCTF members are providing a range of feedback to students and parents.” Fleming wrote: “BCPSEA’s initial application arguably suggested that teachers were refusing to inform parents by other methods regarding the progress of students. However, I find BCPSEA has not provided an evidentiary basis for this suggestion...”
Similarly, Fleming found no evidence to impose a 15% penalty. “They [teachers] are not performing certain non-essential duties but there is no assertion teachers are working only 85% of their scheduled time while receiving 100% pay.” He also noted that teachers are teaching more in place of doing non-essential duties.
“This has always been a ‘teach only’ campaign,” Lambert said. “Teachers are teaching, and students are learning. Throughout this job action, our members have been working 110% and more, as always.”
Lambert expressed concern over the employer’s motivation in bringing this application forward when it clearly had no credible basis in fact. “Now the LRB has sent a strong message to trustees. Instead of attempting to put more pressure on teachers, they should be pressuring government to send BCPSEA back to the table with a new mandate to negotiate a collective agreement that respects teachers and meets the needs of students,” Lambert said.