North Okanagan teachers rally round the schools

Teachers across the province are planning a “day of action” Monday but it’s not expected to affect students...

Teachers across the province are planning a “day of action” Monday but it’s not expected to affect students.

In Vernon, teachers are taking part in what Vernon Teachers’ Association president Bruce Cummings calls “rally round the schools,” taking place at all district schools.

“So you can go to any school in the district, right at dismissal times and you should be able to find people walking around with signs, and we invite anyone who wants to join us,” he said.

The signs will be emblazoned with “I” statements, with teachers expressing sentiments such as “I love teaching,” and “I give extra help.”

Cummings said the day of action is not a political statement, rather it’s a way for local teachers to show that they are still in the classroom and still working with children.

“We want people to know that we’re still teachers and we like doing what we’re doing.”

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation planned the day of action to demonstrate dissatisfaction with the provincial government’s bargaining position after Minister of Education George Abbott said teachers will be legislated back to work.

“We’re fully expecting legislation,” said Cummings, “but at the provincial level, we’re pushing really hard to get a mediator and if BCPSEA (B.C. Public School Employers’ Association) won’t agree, then we’re going to ask the Labour Relations Board to appoint one, even without BCPSEA’s say-so.

“If not, we’ll be calling for an arbitrator — we want to pull out all the stops on not having legislation.”

Cummings said he was pleased to receive a letter Friday from Vernon School Board chairman Bill Turanski indicating that trustees are also in favour of negotiation, not legislation.