In December 2012, the BCTF and BCPSEA began discussions to prepare for bargaining a new collective agreement for the period July 1, 2013, onward. The discussions resulted in a draft Framework Agreement in which the parties agreed to an early start to bargaining, the use of a facilitator, and a process to expand provincial bargaining. Mark Brown was agreed to as the facilitator.
At the same time, the government was promoting a white paper on bargaining that proposed further constraints on bargaining rights. In the lead up to the May 2013 provincial election, Premier Christy Clark made teachers the target in her campaign and called for an unprecedented 10-year deal.
In June, with little progress at the table, government stepped in, suspended the bargaining talks between BCTF and BCPSEA, and replaced BCPSEA negotiator Jackie Griffiths with Peter Cameron as their chief negotiator.
In July, newly appointed Education Minister Peter Fassbender fired the BCPSEA Board of Directors and appointed a government bureaucrat to run the BCPSEA.
Negotiations resumed in October. The tone at the bargaining table shifted dramatically, becoming much more confrontational. Cameron made clear the government’s goals: a settlement that included government’s concession demands, the “pattern” of 6.5% over 5 years, a 10-year term, no class size limits, no class composition provisions, no staffing ratios.
In March 2014, after months without progress, teachers voted to undertake limited job action approved by the LRB. The employer responded with a partial lockout and began docking teachers’ pay.
In May, facing continued stonewalling at the bargaining table, teachers undertook rotating strikes, and in June teachers voted in favour of a full withdrawal of services. The employer responded with a full lockout beginning in the last few days of June.
The strike lockout continued in September after government rejected the BCTF’s call for binding arbitration. Assisted by Vince Ready the parties finally reached agreement near the third week. Following ratification of the deal by members, Friday, September 19 was a paid day for teachers, and schools reopened on Monday September 22, 2014.
In the end, government abandoned its concession demands with regard to days and hours of work, teacher evaluation, and the controversial E80 and E81 demands which would have negated teachers' court wins on class size/composition and staffing ratios. The settlement provided increases of 7.25% over 6 years, $11.85 million in extended health and dental benefits, a $105 million fund to settle retroactive class size and composition grievances, and $400 million over 5 years in an Education Fund to hire additional teachers. Full time teachers each received a lump sum payment of approximately $2,800 from the grievance settlement fund.
During the strike, our members wrote songs, posted photos and videos of teachers picketing and at rallies, wrote blogs, letters, and opinion pieces, and engaged in social media. We captured their creativity and activism on our teachers’ voices on the line page.