May 2, 2018
- Updates on class-size, composition, and remedy
- BCTF and locals working hard on remedy challenges
- Pension information sessions coming to a community near you
- Opportunities for members: BCTF employment opportunities
- Opportunities for members: Canadian Teachers’ Federation
- Opportunities for Members: Judicial Council
Updates on class-size, composition, and remedy
New data from the provincial government shows class-sizes in British Columbia have significantly improved since the BCTF's collective agreement language was restored by the Supreme Court of Canada. In the current 2017-18 school year, there are 45% fewer classes with more than 30 students than the previous year and class-size averages are down across the board. In a news release on the changes, BCTF President Glen Hansman said, “These improvements in class-sizes show the power of collective agreements to enhance classroom conditions for students and teachers.” While challenges with class-composition remain, numbers there are heading in the right direction too. Members can see where their district stands on class-size and composition here.
BCTF and locals working hard on remedy challenges
The provision of remedy under last year's Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is still a legitimate concern in about 20 of the BCTF's locals. These concerns are predominantly in locals that have strong class-composition language but the employer has failed to engage in best efforts in organizing classes and/or has failed to recruit sufficient numbers of teachers to fulfill the remedies owed. There are also situations where the employer has taken too long to start delivering remedies, which has created a situation where some members have a tremendous amount owed, especially considering the scant number of weeks left in the school year.
Both locals and the BCTF have been very active on this issue. In the BCTF's view, most of these problems could have been avoided had school districts fully implemented their district's restored language properly.
When the MOA was negotiated, the provincial parties knew that districts like Surrey, Chilliwack, and Saanich would generate a certain degree of remedy because of the overcrowding in those districts. The concept was to generate staffing in a timely manner to address teachers' workload in a different way if the language couldn't be met by the employer, and if the employer demonstrated that it had made best efforts to meet the restored language, but couldn't. No one in the union imagined that a district like Vancouver would be in violation of the restored language in so many instances, especially in light of the ample space available in many schools to organize additional classes in order to adhere to class-composition language.
Getting more teachers into schools to work with students has been the BCTF's focus all along. Unfortunately, some school districts do not seem to share the same philosophy. Furthermore, the broader issues of recruitment and retention are not being treated by those school districts (or the province) with the same sense of urgency that we have.
As we get closer to the end of the year, some districts are now pressuring teachers to consider monetizing the remedy they are owed. The BCTF's position is that cash for kids is not an acceptable option. It is management's responsibility to deliver on collective agreement language (and remedy under the MOA) in the form of staffing. Rather than creating diversions, district management needs to focus on getting teachers into classrooms as soon as possible.
To be clear, remedy owed to a teacher does not vanish. There is no mechanism in the MOA for any accumulated remedy to disappear at the end of the school year. What form it might take if it spills over into a second year remains under discussion, but remedy itself does not vanish.
The following actions are occurring provincially:
- The BCTF is pursuing a provincial grievance on the failure to fill issue. It has been referred to arbitration. This issue is intimately tied to the remedy issue, as it is the lack of TTOCs that has compounded what is happening on the remedy side of things.
- The BCTF has also taken the failure to fill issue to the Labour Relations Board (LRB), using a rarely used provision of the Labour Code. We have dates for a hearing soon. The process has been established for a decision from the LRB Vice-Chair to be rendered ASAP. Again, the remedy issue is entwined with this.
- We continue to pressure the province on the recruitment and retention issue, as the BCTF believes there is more that the province could do to help the situation.
- The BCTF also has a provincial grievance on remedy that has now been referred to arbitration, and we continue to raise the matter with government and the BC School Employers' Association (BCPSEA).
- Local grievances, where they exist, are being put through our internal processes at the BCTF as quickly as possible.
- We're also continuing to talk about the failure to fill and recruitment challenges in the media.
Thank you to members and locals for all your continued work on this. It is very frustrating all around, given that management in a number of districts has failed to ensure teachers' classes are organized properly, while also failing to provide remedy in a timely manner or at all.
We will continue to push vigorously at the provincial level. If you have any questions about your current situation or your collective agreement, please reach out to your local teachers' association.
Pension information sessions coming to a community near you
The BCTF is hosting a series of regional Pension Information Outreach sessions across BC this spring. Sessions are currently set for Victoria, Dawson Creek, Cranbrook, Prince George, Kelowna, Langley, Burnaby, and Smithers. The purpose of these sessions is to remind all Teachers' Pension Plan members of the new plan changes that started January 2018, and to describe the further possible improvements to the new plan. There will also be a webcast available to all members available soon. Learn more about the information sessions online.
Opportunities for members: BCTF employment opportunities
The Federation has the following employment opportunities:
The Income Security Division has a full-time term vacancy for the position of Assistant Director, Health and Safety Officer. The position co-ordinates the Federation's Health and Safety Program, provides support to Field Service staff on health and safety issues, and co-ordinates the Health and Safety Advisory Committee. The deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m., June 4, 2018.
The Communications and Campaigns Division has a full-time term vacancy for the position of Assistant Director, Outreach/Political Action. The position assists in the co-ordination of Federation outreach and political-action initiatives, and ongoing communications and campaigns work. The deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m., June 4, 2018.
Learn more about both positions, and other opportunities, online.
Opportunities for members: Canadian Teachers’ Federation
The Canadian Teachers' Federation has put out a call for members interested in serving on its standing committees for the 2018-19 school year. Teacher organizations that belong to the CTF have been invited to submit nominations for the following committees:
- Advisory Committee on Indigenous Education (seeking two members)
- Advisory Committee on Diversity and Human Rights (seeking three members)
- Advisory Committee French as a First Language (seeking two members)
- Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (seeking two members)
- Advisory Committee on the Teaching Profession (seeking two members)
Committee members serve for two-year terms and mainly meet online or through conference calls. The terms of reference for each committee are available here. Members who are interested in being nominated for any of these committees are asked to submit a CV to the BCTF by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18. The BCTF Executive Committee will then select names to nominate, and the CTF Board of Directors will consider all of the nominations from the member organizations and make the appointments at its meeting in July.
Opportunities for Members: Judicial Council
The position of Judicial Council Chairperson is currently open and the Federation is accepting applications until May 16, 2018. The Judicial Council, through the use of panels, considers alleged breaches of the Code of Ethics or conduct harmful to the Federation and renders a verdict regarding said conduct. Applicants must be nominated by a secret ballot of a local general meeting or a local representative assembly. Duties of the chairperson can be found in the Members' Guide to the BCTF, By-law 7, page 15. There are also six, three-year terms available on the Judicial Council. Go to page 5 of the all committees posting to learn more.