Pay cut and lockout talk ‘irresponsible’, Alberni teachers union says

Teachers can expect their pay to be cut, their union to pay their benefits or even a lockout, and the measures are heavy handed, the ADTU says.

Teachers can expect their pay to be cut, their union to pay their benefits or even a lockout if the stalemate continues between teachers and the B.C. Public Schools Employers Association, BCPSEA president Melanie Joy said.

More than 50 trustees representatives including School District 70’s Jerry Linning and Greg Smyth met in Vancouver on Monday to discuss the options.

“The meeting was in-camera and I can’t comment on the specifics,” Linning said. “The BCPSEA is handling all comments to the media.”

The association wanted to get a temperature reading from the districts on how the teachers job action is affecting them, Joy said.

Trustee reps expressed concern about how administration staffs were handling duties previously held by teachers. Admin staff from larger districts were coping better than staffs from smaller districts and burnout is being reported, Joy said.

The strike could carry on indefinitely in its present form, she added.

Representatives agreed that some pressure needed to be applied to the teachers union to fibrillate talks, which have been flat lined for months.

“We received overwhelming support to use the tools available to us to move bargaining forward,” Joy said.”You can’t take teachers out of schools and not expect any impact.”

The vote to up the stakes was not unanimous but rather a majority, Joy said.

The tools Joy referred to were three: cutting teachers pay because they’re not performing all of their duties; transferring benefit payment responsibilities from the employer to the union; and a lockout.

Joy didn’t discuss specifics of the measures or time lines, saying only that they are complex. They also have to pass by the Labour Relations Board – which has the power to alter the previous collective agreement – before being implemented.

“The timing of the options is going to depend on the situation and context,” Joy said.

The measures are heavy handed, Alberni District Teachers Union president Ken Zydyk said. “We think it’s irresponsible to inflame the situation like this.”

Teachers aren’t filling out the first report cards of the year or performing other duties because of job action. “But we’re doing our jobs as teachers in the classroom,” Zydyk said. “If they’re trying to shake our confidence or escalate this into a full scale strike then this will fail.”

While report cards aren’t being made, teachers are communicating with parents and parent teacher conferences are being scheduled, he added. “We’re encouraging parents to stay in contact with us by phone or e-mail and to watch for messages in their child’s agenda planners,” Zydyk said. “We expect to be fully informing parents of this children’s progress.”

Locally, there have been no contract talks between the ADTU and the school district since May, Zydyk said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com