Teachers talking about local action to resist Bill 22

NANAIMO – Schools re-open this week and teachers return to their full duties, but further local action could be in the works.

Schools re-open this week and teachers return to their full duties, including writing report cards and supervising students on the playground, but further local action could be in the works.

Provincial legislation making teacher job action illegal until next fall was passed just before spring break, ending the phase one job action that was in place since September.

Last week, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation announced an action plan to resist Bill 22 that includes a provincewide vote on withdrawing from voluntary extra-curricular activities and the possibility of a future vote on a full withdrawal of services.

The union wants the legislation repealed and maintains that it will undermine the quality of public education in B.C. and infringes on teachers’ bargaining rights.

Derek DeGear, president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said he’s heard from many teachers upset about Bill 22 and about a dozen proposed strategies to resist the legislation until teachers vote on the union’s action plan April 17-18.

He’s expecting hundreds of Nanaimo teachers to attend a meeting today (March 27) to discuss the plan, developed during the BCTF’s annual general meeting last week, so members are prepared to vote on it next month.

“One of the suggestions I’m hearing in the meantime is until the vote happens, no new activities of a voluntary nature be started,” said DeGear. “I’ve informed members that they can always bring their suggestions to the meeting. I’m going to leave that up to the members to decide.”

Another suggestion he’s heard is doing bell-to-bell action, where teachers meet in the parking lot before school and walk in together when the morning bell rings, then walk out together when the afternoon bell rings, meaning they would be unavailable to meet with principals outside regular school hours.

DeGear said these actions would not violate Bill 22, as they are extra to the normal work day.

DeGear said the BCTF action plan also includes refusing to participate in the province’s B.C. Education Plan, a legal challenge, refusing to participate in district committees and rejecting extra pay for classes with more than 30 students in them – Bill 22 removes the teacher consent requirement for Grades 4-7 classes with more than 30 students and requires districts to pay out additional compensation for teachers with over-sized classes.