School district warns of strike vote
School District 72 is warning parents to be prepared for a possible job action by teachers.
Superintendent Tom Longridge’s notice comes on the heels of B.C. teachers voting 89 per cent in favour of job action.
“This means that teaching staff across the province, including those within School District 72, have 90 days in which they could possibly take job action,” Longridge wrote in a letter to parents. “Job action may take many forms, from ceasing recess supervision, to a rotating or a district-wide strike.”
Elaine Thompson, president of the Campbell River and District Teachers’ Association, said the vote does not have an immediate impact on students.
“Many people are under the false impression that a strike vote automatically means walking off the job,” Thompson said. “We now have 90 days to activate the strike vote with some sort of action, but there are no immediate plans for any action whatsoever.”
That is dependent upon how talks between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Public School Employers’ Association progress at the bargaining table.
The B.C. government, through the employers’ association, has offered pay increases totalling 6.5 per cent over six years.
Thompson said the government has several proposals on the table that would, “remove gains made over decades of negotiations, and for which we gave up other items at the time that each improvement was negotiated.”
More than 29,000 teachers participated in a strike vote last week as the teachers’ federation tries to negotiate a new contract. Teachers have been without a contract since last July.
Thompson said job action, if needed, will occur in stages, but initial job action will not include immediate school closures or disruption for students, nor will it include teachers refraining from extracurricular activities – as was mentioned in a letter from School District 72, – nor affect report cards or communication with parents.
“Any initial job action will be administrative in nature and have no impact on student learning,” Thompson said. “We will work very hard to get a negotiated settlement without any job action. The government has tabled unfair and unreasonable proposals that would undo the class size, composition, and specialist teacher staffing levels that we just won back in a BC Supreme Court ruling. That is the main reason that the vote was so strongly in favour of job action.”
Phase one of job action includes teachers refusing to meet with school administrators and arriving at schools no more than one hour before class starts and leaving no later than one hour after school gets out.
Phase two involves rotating one-day strikes in school districts across B.C. and phase three would be to move to a province-wide strike.
Superintendent Longridge said he will keep parents in School District 72 up to date.
“In the event of job action, parents/guardians will be notified of changes in school operating procedures as quickly as possible,” Longridge said. “Should there be strike action, parents/guardians will receive a telephone call and e-mail home using the district’s automated notification system.”
Notices will also be posted on the district’s website, www.sd72.bc.ca as updates become available.
Anyone with questions or concerns should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org