KTTA president unhappy with tentative contract
Public-school teachers in Kamloops and across B.C. will be heading to the polls to vote on a potential short-term resolution to their long-running job action.
On Tuesday, June 26, B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) president Susan Lambert announced a tentative deal with the province — one that needs ratification from union members.
Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association head Jason Karpuk said the agreement doesn’t go as far as teachers would have liked, but beats the alternative.
“It doesn’t get what teachers want, but it’s better than legislation,” he said.
Karpuk said the BCTF was strong-armed into the agreement.
“What are you going to do?” he asked.
“Either you suck up the bad taste and take what you’re given or you end up going to legislation.”
According to Karpuk, the deal was reached under threat of millions of dollars in fines — a component of Bill 22, which has not been made law but remains in the arsenal of B.C. Education Minister George Abbott.
“The government had the ability to enact the part of the legislation that contained fines,” Karpuk said.
“That was never enacted, but it was there as a hammer, should they need it.”
Lambert said the potential fines cast a shadow over the negotiations.
“After a long and difficult round of negotiations, we were compelled into this process under threat of huge fines and further punitive legislation,” she said.
“We have been able to achieve some modest improvements but, above all, we succeeded in getting government to take its concession demands off the table.”
The terms of the deal have not been made public pending the ratification vote by BCTF members, but the two-year deal — running retroactively back to last June — would expire on June 30, 2013.
Karpuk would not say how he plans to vote, but noted feedback from local teachers has been positive.
“For the most part, they’re happy,” he said.
“The concessions being taken off the table are a big thing.”
If B.C.’s 40,000 public-school teachers ratify the tentative deal, things could return to normal in classrooms across the province in the fall.
Teachers had withdrawn extra-curricular and non-teaching services — including coaching, recess monitoring and report-card writing.
“It will all depend on what the outcome of the vote is,” Karpuk said.
“If it’s ratified, then yes. If not, then we’ll see.”
Should teachers vote in favour, Karpuk said, it will bring an end to a long year for teachers.
“It’s been a tough year,” he said.
“At the end of it, it’s not the deal that the teachers were looking for, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.
“It’s somewhere in the middle.”
Karpuk said he expects voting to take place in coming days.