By David F. Rooney
With teachers poised to strike, Superintendent Anne Cooper is asking all parents to keep their children at home next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“While school facilities will remain open under the supervision of principals and vice-principals, we will be unable to provide students with instruction or appropriate supervision during this period of job action,” she said in a letter to parents on Thursday.
“As a result, school buses will not be in operation. For safety reasons, we are therefore requesting that parents keep their children at home… We will do our utmost to keep you informed in a timely manner. The local online newspapers, local radio stations and television news will be good sources of information. We will update our website regularly, www.sd19.bc.ca.
“We have a school system in Revelstoke, of which we are all very proud and I am confident that the strike will be addressed in a respectful manner throughout the district.
“If you have questions, please contact your principal or myself. I thank you for your understanding.”
Teachers province-wide voted on Tuesday and Wednesday to go on strike to protest the provincial government’s decision to impose a contract on them.
There are approximately 41,000 teachers in BC and, according to the BC Teachers Federation, 32,209 of them cast ballots. Of those, 27,946 voted yes.
As you can see from the numbers, not all teachers voted. The BCTF and its member union, the RTA, said it doesn’t have district-by-district numbers.
“It’s a province-wide vote and gets reported out that way — sorry,” said BCTF spokeswoman Nancy Knickerbocker.
Revelstoke Teachers Association Prresident Jennifer Wolney said local teachers will carry placards at local school but will not form picket lines. Consequently, support staff who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees will report for work as usual, Barry O’Neill, president of CUPE’s BC division, said in a letter to BCTF members..
The BCTF’s members have staged a work-to-rule campaign (that’s a campaign that prevents teachers from working outside their normal working hours) for several months while their union leaders attempted to negotiate with the government. The BC Liberals, who have forced all public-sector unions to accept net-zero contracts, were not inclined to allow the teachers anything other that what other unions have been getting — in other words nothing.
“Teachers are determined and united in their opposition to Bill 22 and to the bullying tactics of a provincial government that has deliberately underfunded public education for a decade,” BCTF President Susan Lambert said in a statement Thursday.
Those “bullying tactics” were, with a cruel sense of irony, unveiled by the government on February 29 — National Anti-Bullying Day.
Bill 22 includes severe penalties: $475 per day for individual teachers, $2,500 per day for union officers, and a minimum of $1.3 million per day for the BCTF.
“The fines in this bullying legislation are punitive in the extreme,” Lambert said. “They are a clear attempt to intimidate teachers.”