In a province-wide vote conducted June 26–28, 2013, 96% of BC teachers expressed support for their bargaining team and opposition to government interference in the negotiation process.
A total of 20,664 teachers voted yes, and 898 voted no.
“This overwhelming vote is like a standing ovation for our teacher bargaining team,” said outgoing BCTF President Susan Lambert. “They have made stellar efforts at the bargaining table to negotiate a fair deal for teachers and better support for students.”
Lambert said the vote also sends a strong message to government to provide the necessary resources to achieve an agreement at the table, and not to intervene in the process.
Talks have been under way since early February and progress was being made in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Last week the government revoked the mandate of its bargaining agent, the BC Public School Employers’ Association, and then appointed a single government negotiator, Peter Cameron.
Disappointed that the first constructive round of bargaining in years had been unilaterally suspended, teachers reacted by writing en masse to Education Minister Peter Fassbender expressing their worries that his government intended to lock in a decade of deteriorating conditions in classrooms. In addition, many school boards also told the minister they wanted negotiations to continue.
“We hope that Minister Fassbender understands that this strong vote and the many letters teachers have sent to him are evidence of the deep commitment we have to our profession and the tremendous determination we have to negotiate a deal at the table,” Lambert said.
“More than anyone, teachers want stability in public education,” Lambert said. “We are open to a longer-term agreement. With political will in Victoria and much-needed resources at the table and in the classroom, we can achieve a negotiated solution.”