Teachers unhappy with new contract

Educators continue to have concerns about class composition

Teachers have inked a new contract but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.

In a provincewide vote, a total of 21,044 teachers cast ballots and 75 per cent voted yes on the new agreement. The turnout rate was 52 per cent.

“Judging from the percentage of teachers who voted, there was a reluctance to accept,” said Kevin Bader, Vernon Teachers Association president.

“It (contract) feels like a kick in the teeth because the main issues weren’t considered. Class composition wasn’t considered.”

The B.C. Teachers Federation recommended acceptance of the contract because it averted the provincial government legislating a deal.

“It was more preferential to an imposed settlement. We don’t know what would have happened there,” said Bader.

In terms of extra-curricular activities, Bader says individual teachers will decide if they volunteer for sports teams and clubs.

“Teachers feel abused,” he said of government policies.

Bader admits it looks like students are being punished if extra-curricular activities don’t resume. But he says broader issues must be considered.

“Kids are being hurt by class size composition. The limits are gone. We’re fighting for  kids’ learning conditions,” he said.

“Parents I’ve talked to understand that my own decision to stop volunteering was not an easy one to make. Frankly, they would rather I put my energy into teaching their children. I don’t know of very many other jobs where there are concerns about employees not volunteering their own family time?”

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, which represents the province’s school districts, will vote today on the terms of the proposed agreement.

The Vernon School District is not disclosing if it supports the  agreement.

“I have an idea that most districts will be supportive but that’s just a guess,” said chairperson Bill Turanski.