Teachers and school board look ahead to renewed bargaining

By Laura Stovel

Revelstoke teachers are looking ahead to renewed bargaining this spring as their five-year collective agreement expires June 31. At the Revelstoke School Board meeting on Wednesday, Revelstoke Teacher’s Association (RTA) President Bill MacFarlane informed trustees and Superintendent Anne Cooper that the RTA would like to open bargaining on March 1.

MacFarlane said that the teachers would like to see more bargaining done at the local level and less at the provincial level, a stance that is consistent with the BC Teacher’s Federation plan to move as much bargaining to the local level as possible.  He acknowledged the “positive working relationship” between the RTA and the school board which bodes well for the negotiation process.

In the past, MacFarlane said, bargaining has dealt with very few issues outside major ones such as salaries. Issues like class size have been stripped from the agreement and this has been a source of increasing frustration for teachers. “We want to address the other issues,” he said. In the past, the RTA has had to address remaining issues, such as those surrounding seniority, by filing grievances.  “We really don’t need to be in a process where we need to file grievances,” he said. It would be better to deal with these in the collective agreement itself.

School Board chair Alan Chell said it is important to identify truly local issues to deal with at the local level; others might be best dealt with provincially. In the past school boards have faced the problem of local teachers’ associations comparing agreements and asking “Why not here?” after an agreement has already been reached.