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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 1, September 2007

AGM 2007

By Yvonne Eamor

It had a jam-packed agenda but the condensed 91st Annual General Meeting of the BCTF managed to accomplish what was needed to conduct business for the next year and the Representative Assembly that was tacked on to the end of the AGM ensured that the BCTF is constitutionally sound.

More than 600 delegates attended the AGM, which saw the election of Irene Lanzinger as BCTF president, Susan Lambert as first vice-president, and Jim Iker as second vice-president (all are one-year positions). Elected for a two-year term to the Executive Committee were Rebecca Blair, Carole Gillis, Patricia Gudlaugson, and Jill McCaffery; Robert Tarswell was elected for a one-year term. John Wadge and Val Windsor are currently completing their second year.

The AGM established the membership fee for the coming year at 1.45% of a member’s salary. The fee is unchanged from last year.

The meeting set five priorities for 2007–08:

  • collective agreement implementation and enforcement
  • education underfunding and privatization
  • professional autonomy and professional issues
  • social justice
  • teacher well-being and union renewal.

A number of resolutions were passed to challenge the provincial government’s new "Roaring 20s" legislation, Bills 20, 21, and 22. Delegates believe these destructive pieces of legislation will undermine the democratic governance of school boards, undermine teacher professional autonomy, and result in additional layers of bureaucracy. They have also served notice that the BCTF is firm in its commitment to inclusion of all students in a public education system, and is adamantly opposed to the re-segregation of students in demonstration or model schools. Delegates also passed resolutions to oppose a public discipline registry for teachers by identifying strategies—up to and including collective actions—to counter the establishment of such a registry.

Other resolutions passed by delegates include teachers’ refusal to participate or accept any award that is based solely on measures of accountability or Fraser Institute rankings, a directive that school boards work with locals to find new and creative solutions to the problem of schools on the semester system where teachers have no scheduled prep time for an entire semester, and a demand for the immediate inclusion of teacher-librarians in all ministry curriculum and literacy committees as well as their inclusion to ministry staff to guide the building of strong school library programs.

Delegates also voted to improve working conditions in classrooms through such things as temperature control and dealing with noise levels. They also passed a resolution to inform members and students of the negative health and environment effects of bottled water.

On the bargaining front, the AGM passed resolutions that the BCTF lobby the provincial government to establish firm class-size and composition limits in legislation and to provide funding to school districts to reinstate staffing ratios for specialist teachers.

Honorary life memberships to the BCTF were conferred on John Chisamore, Maureen MacDonald, Margaret McMaster, Peter Northcott, Rick Turner, and Jan Walling.

In her final address as president, Jinny Sims focussed on the underfunding of public education, the government’s betrayal of students through Bill 33, school closures, segregation, and the Learning Round Table. She talked about the BCTF’s successful legal challenges of Translink’s advertising policies and the government’s position on school fees. Sims congratulated the Hospital Employees’ Union and its huge victory in the Supreme Court of Canada, which has ruled that collective bargaining rights are protected by the Charter of Rights. Armed with that precedent ruling, the BCTF will now proceed with its legal challenge of Bills 27 and 28.

Sims used her extensive travels as BCTF president to highlight the importance of social justice around the world and the need for the Federation to continue its activities and join other organizations in the fight for the rights of teachers everywhere.

Yvonne Eamor is the BCTF’s media relations officer.

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