Cupe BC K-12 Bargaining Update: BCTF has announced escalation of their strike action commencing June 16, 2014

June 13, 2o14

The BCTF has announced escalation of their strike action commencing June 16, 2014.

Monday, June 16th, 2014 will be province wide activity.  Teachers will hold ‘study sessions’.  There will be no picket lines.  Support staff must report to work in the absence of picket lines.

Commencing Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 a full scale strike will begin in all Districts in the province.  Picketing hours will vary.  Local Teacher Associations determine the times picket lines will be in place. 

Support staff should not cross picket lines if they are in place.  If there is no picket line when you arrive at work, you must report for duty.

Support staff is reminded we have a binding collective agreement in place.  The Provincial Framework Agreement has not been ratified.  Although that agreement will provide wage protection in the event of picket lines that does not mean support staff do not have to report for duty and work when picket lines are not present.  In the absence of picket lines support staff must report for work as usual.

Regarding what to do if you report to work and a picket line is subsequently erected, please see the excerpt of a bulletin put out by BCPSEA to all Districts which reads as follows:

11.    A picket was established after support staff had commenced their shift. Do they receive the ESG grant if they stop working because of the picket?

While we do not agree that employees have the right to “down tools” to respect a picket line, if their shift has already commenced, on a without prejudice basis BCPSEA, advises the following:

Scenario one:

Support staff commence work in the morning and a picket is erected a short time afterwards (e.g., 30 minutes after the start of shift). Support staff stop working, leave to respect a picket line, and do not return to work for the rest of their shift.

The employee will receive no pay for that day (including the example of 30 minutes worked) through the regular payroll run. Instead, the employee will receive pay for the full scheduled shift from the ESG (once the local agreement is ratified). On a case by case basis there will be consideration for an employee who works a significant portion of their shift prior to pickets being erected.

Scenario two:

Support staff commence their shift and a picket is erected at recess and/or lunch. Support staff stop working and leave to respect a picket line. They return to work as scheduled for the time between recess and lunch as well as after lunch

The employee will receive pay for the full shift through regular payroll. Therefore there will be no payment received from the ESG.

Note: Essential Service Orders may determine that some employees’ work is deemed essential over recess or lunch (where normally scheduled), in which case they also are paid as per normal payroll

The full BCPSEA will be issued shortly for your information.

In Solidarity,

John Horsfield & Rob Hewitt

CUPE K-12 Coordinators


It it ethical to take union-won benefits without joining?

Some U.S. states say people should have the right not to join a union

By: Ken Gallinger Ethically speaking columnist, Published on Fri Jun 13 2014

Many American states permit employees in unionized worksites to opt out of dues. It’s not legal in Canada. But after Michigan passed such a law, some conservative politicians began promoting the idea here. The argument made by proponents is “the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join a union.” Is it ethical to refuse to pay dues if you work in a job covered by a union contract?

There are two viable ways of paying for services we enjoy. On the one hand, there are a limited number of services (roads, police, hospitals etc.) that we all pay for, whether we use them or not. These are provided by government, and deemed to some degree essential.

The vast majority of services on which we depend, however, are to some extent user-pay — i.e., if you use the service, you pay some of the cost. Included on the long list of services we fund on a per-use (or per-season, etc.) basis are things like provincial parks, museums, public transit, theatre tickets, etc. Almost all of these enjoy some public subsidization, because we are still, essentially, a socialist country. But users pay some per-pop cost, and in recent years the percentage has generally shifted away from subsidies, and towards higher user fees. Even in education, parents report a never-ending chorus of gimme from schools their kids attend.

Proponents of so-called “Right to Work” legislation (a euphemism gone malignant if there ever was one) argue, on the one hand, that union membership/dues should be a discretionary, user-pay arrangement; those who choose to support unions would be free to do so, but others equally free to opt out. Where their logic goes weirdly off track, however, is on the question of whether those who opt out of dues would also relinquish the benefits won by unions, not only on that particular worksite, but across society. Well, no, they wouldn’t in fact; they would continue to receive all the benefits of union negotiations, advocacy and so on — either without paying a cent, or in return for a paltry fee-for-service. That’s why Rick Unger, writing in Forbes, said this would be better described as “Right to Freeload” legislation.

The question is not whether everyone in society should be legally required to pay union dues; I’ve never paid dues in my life — but I’ve also never enjoyed the protections that workers in unionized environments take for granted. If I had a dispute with my employer, I was completely, 100 per cent on my own.

The real question is: could it ever be OK to accept work in a context where employees enjoy salary levels, pension plans, working conditions and other benefits that have been won, over many years, by unions, and still not support the unions that won those benefits?

The obvious answer is “no.”

Unless we create a society where worker’s rights, pensions and other benefits are universally protected by government — and we’re all prepared to pay for that protection the same way we pay for cops and hospitals — unions remain the only effective vehicle by which those benefits are won and protected. And ethically speaking, if you dance the jig, you pay the piper.