Negotiations 2001 to 2002
"I don't believe in ripping up agreements."
Liberal leader Gordon Campbell
HEU Guardian, November-December 2000Reproduced with permission
from the BC Carpenters Union
The existing contract was due to expire on June 30, 2001. Teachers set bargaining objectives in February 2001 and the BCTF launched their bargaining campaign – It’s about Time. Negotiations opened on March 5, 2001.
During the April 2001 provincial election campaign, the BC Liberals indicated that they would bring in legislation designating education as an essential service. In August 2001, the BC Liberal government passed essential services legislation which substantially reduces teachers' full and free collective bargaining rights, including the right to strike.
In October, 2001, the BCTF held the first-ever province-wide strike vote and a total of 91.4% of British Columbia teachers voted "yes".
President David Chudnovsky stressed that for teachers this round of bargaining is about protecting and improving public education, as well as achieving a fair and reasonable raise for teachers.
"Our goal is to improve the conditions under which students learn. We want smaller class sizes, more specialist teachers, and better support for students with special needs," he said.
BC teachers served strike notice on November 5, 2001 and the Labour Relations Board upheld Phases I and II of the teachers’ job action plan. In December, teachers decided to withdraw all voluntary activities on January 7, 2002.
Teachers had amended their initial bargaining positions already during the bargaining process, reducing the wage proposal from 34% down to 22%, and changing proposed language to provide flexibility demanded by the employers. No change from initial demands was made by the employers. Despite this, the BCTF tabled a new proposal on January 22, 2002, reducing by hundreds of millions of dollars the cost of a settlement.
The employers and the minister of finance almost immediately rejected the proposal, again refusing to put forward a framework for settlement in response to that put forward by the BCTF.
On January 25, 2002, "Black Friday," the minister of labour introduced Bills 27 and 28, designed to impose terms and conditions of employment on teachers and strip all class-size, staffing, and workload provisions from the provincial and local agreements. Most of the provisions guaranteeing support for students with special needs were also eliminated.
The legislation that Gordon Campbell's Liberals imposed January 25, 2002, on BC teachers "is everything we feared and more," said David Chudnovsky, President of the BC Teachers' Federation. "Many of our members hoped against hope that this legislation wouldn't be as bad as we had feared, but it's much, much worse," he said. "With the stroke of a pen, this government has eliminated the very provisions that ensure quality education for children."
Source: BCTF News Release, January 25, 2002
The bills were passed on January 27, 2002.
Province-wide rallies were held on Monday, January 28 to protest the imposition of the contract.
The 2001 to 2004 imposed provincial collective agreement contains the struck-through language related to class size, staffing ratios, and other workload provisions deleted by arbitrator Eric Rice.