Vernon teachers call for binding arbitration to end dispute

Union wants issues of class size and composition left with the courts

The Vernon Teachers Association is lending its support to binding arbitration to end the current labour dispute.

The B.C. Teachers Federation has proposed to the provincial government that there be binding aribtration so clases can begin.

“The BCTF sees binding arbitration as the fastest and most fair option to settle this dispute and reopen schools,” said Heather Malcolm, VTA president, adding that teachers are proposing that salary, prep time, and benefits be addressed through that process.

“They are also asking that the government leave the matters currently before the court, and related to the court ruling, to the courts. This means that the government must drop article E.80, which seeks to nullify any future court ruling in the teacher’s favour.”

The B.C. Supreme Court has previously ruled twice that the teachers’ collective agreement was stripped of class size and composition language against the Charter of Rights.

“We are proposing separate temporary fund to support classrooms while the court case is heard for a third time,” said Malcolm.

While Education Minister Peter Fassbender says he will review the BCTF’s proposal, he has reservations about binding arbitration.

“I’ve never been a fan of binding arbitration,” he said, adding handing over control to a third party risks an outcome that compromises B.C.’s balanced budget and unacceptably damages the province’s finances.

– with files from Black Press reporter Jeff Nagel