Union says teachers’ first phase of job action should have little classroom impact

The first phase of potential job action by teachers will not have any significant impact in the classroom, says the president of the Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association (ADTA).

Nicola Koop

The first phase of potential job action by teachers will not have any significant impact in the classroom, says the president of the Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association (ADTA).

Jeff Dunton said parents and students will notice little immediate change in classroom operations should teachers begin job action as early as the first day of school – Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Kevin Godden, superintendent of the Abbotsford school district, was more cautious.

“While the direct result of any initial job action may not be immediately evident to students, we cannot fully predict how it will affect school operations,” he said.

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) – which represents all school boards in the province – are currently engaged in contract negotiations.

The BCTF has said that if no progress is made in bargaining, the first phase of job action may begin Sept. 6. The federation must give 72 hours’ notice of any action it plans to take.

Dunton said the first phase involves teachers refusing to attend any staff meetings where school or district administration is present, or taking part in sessions outside of regular school hours.

He said this includes “meet the teacher” nights typically held at the beginning of the school year for parents.

Dunton said teachers will not participate in any written communication with administrators, other than that pertaining to student safety – for example, if a student is involved in a playground accident – or class/program composition and formation until Sept. 10 for elementary children and Sept. 17 for secondary students.

Teachers have not yet been informed what form further job action could take, but meetings will be held at the ADTA hall on Sept. 6 and 7 at 4 p.m. to provide them with information about the first phase.

Meanwhile, Godden said the district will make “every effort … to maintain respectful, professional relationships between all partner and stakeholder groups throughout this process.”

A total of 90 per cent of the more than 28,000 teachers who voted in June were in favour of  job action to back their objectives, which relate to teaching conditions, salary and benefits, and local bargaining rights.

The BCTF’s demands include pay parity with other provinces, doubling the provision for bereavement leave to 10 days on the death of any friend or relative, and 26 weeks off each year as a fully paid leave to provide compassionate care to any person.

The BCSPEA has said the demands would amount to an additional $2.2 billion each year.

The issues are being decided on a provincial level, with more specific local matters to be determined later.

As more information becomes available, it will be posted on the websites for the school district (sd34.bc.ca), the BCTF (bctf.ca) and the ADTA (bctf.ca/local 34/)

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