Teachers are frustrated
After working a full school year without a contract, teachers are now preparing to take action to resolve outstanding issues at the bargaining table. Teachers are frustrated at the lack of progress with the British Columbia Public Sector Employers Association (BCPSEA), the bargaining agent of the school board. BCPSEA is unable or unwilling to bargain any substantive issues with teachers, in particular, students learning conditions that were stripped from our previous collective agreement. Teachers in Howe Sound and across the province have seen a marked erosion in students learning conditions, with significantly larger classes and elimination of supports for special needs students. Ninety per cent of B.C.s teachers have indicated that class size and supports for special needs students should be restored to our collective agreement.
Teachers will continue to work hard to reach a negotiated settlement and will do everything possible to avoid disruption. However, we are fully prepared to take whatever action is necessary to achieve our bargaining goals. We are concerned that an essential service designation by the Labour Relations Board will cause unnecessary disruption in our schools and are dismayed that B.C. is the only province in Canada that has designated education an "essential service." This was brought in by Gordon Campbells Liberal government in 2001, despite the fact that very few teachers strikes had occurred in the previous decade, and more instructional days were lost due to the weather than labour disputes.
In the coming weeks, it is critically important that the provincial government meet with teachers in a mutual effort to negotiate, problem solve and avoid disruption in the education system. Further, we urge our elected school board trustees, parents, and other stakeholder groups to encourage the government and BCPSEA to resolve this dispute through negotiation, not confrontation.
Carl E. Walker
Howe Sound Teachers Association
This past Monday evening Whistler lost one of its special people. Ken Quon, 48 years young, the manager of Whistlers IGA store. Ken was a broad-based community supporter. Through his position at IGA he helped many community groups host their functions. Kens profession demanded long hours on the job but when he relaxed it was snowboarding in the winter and riding his mountain bike in the spring, summer and fall. The WORCA Loonie races, volunteering at WORCA work parties made Thursday nights special for him. Those people who rode along side Ken during these events were always treated to his infectious enthusiasm for the sport.
A few years ago Ken was invited, because of his commitment to helping others to enjoy and to improve their mountain bike skills, to join the Wild Willies Bike Club Guides. It was while guiding a Monday evening "Come Ride With Us" that Ken took his last ride. Too few people ever really pass from this life doing exactly what they most enjoy. Ken did. He and his bike just stopped during a ride in lost Lake Park. There was no attributing crash. Medical authorities said, "he would not have even felt falling to the ground while still astride his bike."