Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

BCTF didn't ask for BCPSEA board dismissal: Hansman

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) denies asking the ministry of education to dismiss the BC Public School Employers’ Association board of directors in order to bargain directly with government.

Yesterday the ministry announced the replacement of BCPSEA’s board of directors with Michael Marchbank, who will act as the public administrator for the employers’ organization. Marchbank is also CEO of the Health Employers’ Association of BC, the government’s bargaining agent in the health care sector. This follows the June appointment of freelance negotiator Peter Cameron as government's spokesperson on the teachers' bargaining process.

“The rationale for doing that, right from the time of the election we’ve been very clear that we want to bargain directly with the BC Teachers’ Federation, that was a request that they made last year in December,” Education Minister Peter Fassbender told reporters yesterday.

However in a conversation with The Tyee this morning, Glen Hansman, BCTF 1st vice-president, says the union asked government to meet directly with the union to discuss “big ticket items” like salaries and class size and composition, not to dismantle BCPSEA.

“It’s a bit of a misrepresentation for the government to say that this is what we asked for. We didn’t ask for BCPSEA to be blown up, or for the board of BCPSEA to be fired, and we definitely did not ask for democratically elected trustees to be pushed out of the picture,” he said.

Fassbender says he has asked BCPSEA’s board members to stay on in an advisory role, however, to help plan a road map for future bargaining with the BCTF.

He denied, however, Marchbank’s appointment would remove BCPSEA’s role from the bargaining process.

“It is actually going to enhance (their role), I believe. Because BCPSEA represents the school boards in the bargaining process and under the provincial mandate,” he told reporters.

“When the government changed the mandate, we recognized that we needed to change the bargaining structure. However, I have been in ongoing discussions with the (BC) School Trustees Association: they have a significant co-governance role and we’re going to continue to work with them on that role, and we’re going to enhance that in the future.

“So BCPSEA will continue to operate; even in this change, the only thing we’ve done is change the governance structure of BCPSEA, not the administrative function that they perform right now.”

BCPSEA refused to comment on the situation. However former board members like Silas White, also a trustee for the Sunshine Coast school district, and other B.C. trustees have taken to Twitter to express their frustration and confusion with the move.

Hansman says shuffling the players on the bargaining team doesn’t mean much to the BCTF without assurances government will put appropriate resources on the table when bargaining resumes in September.

“We’re open to a longer deal, but it can’t be just a long deal with nothing in it,” he said.

The ministry has also indicated they are willing to re-examine the designation of teaching as an essential service in order to secure a 10-year deal. But Hansman says the union isn’t going to comment on that until they meet with the minister to determine what that statement means.

“We didn’t want the designation in the first place, but what he’s saying in the press release and what he said to the media yesterday might be quite different from what they actually mean in practice,” he told The Tyee.

“We’re looking forward to an actual face to face conversation where we could unpack that in detail.”

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee Solutions Society. Follow her on Twitter.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus