BCTF Fall Zone Meetings were held across the province on October 13th and 14th. Members of your VTA Executive Committee met with 9 other Okanagan locals in Kelowna and attended discrete sessions in Social Justice, Professional Development, Working Conditions/Bargaining, Presidents/Vice Presidents, and Health & Safety.
The formal and informal discussions with Okanagan colleagues are imperative for VTA representatives to learn about their roles, be informed of possible solutions to shared problems, and to be supported in their union work.
Shawna Mitchell, Professional Development Chair Sessions
I attended the discrete sessions for Pro-D Chairs. It was good for me to meet some of the other PD Chairs in our zone and I received invitations to check out their local’s websites for PD handbooks and documents that I could use as templates. Unfortunately for me, the people attending these sessions had mostly either been the PD Chair for many years or were attending on behalf of their local’s chair (and thus didn’t have knowledge of specific PD topics). I was looking to discuss topics that would help me learn my new role, but many of the others wanted to discuss their own local’s issues instead of items that would help us all learn.
Topics discussed were: type and frequency of reporting; format of parent conferences and the amount of “time off” given to complete them; and issues with recruitment/retention, including unfilled positions in schools and/or lack of TTOCs. My facilitator was looking to gather information on these topics to take back to the Professional Issues Advisory Committee (PIAC).
Cori Huizer, Presidents/Vice Presidents Sessions
We had a session with the TTOC reps and I am thinking about putting a motion to the BCTF AGM that a TTOC has a seat on the BCTF Executive Committee. There are many concerns still unanswered by the BCTF and the districts on their behalf (Limit of pay at Category 5, Step 8, benefits, professional autonomy, prep time, etc).
Discussions about provincial bargaining and what the other Okanagan locals are thinking,
I want to use the BCTF Commitment to Solidarity more regularly (it reminds members how meetings should be conducted) and remind our members about the Code of Ethics.
We also spoke about the Professional Standard #9 and the importance of our district and province speaking about it – that our local needs to inform our members about this standard.
Billie Jo Beaudoin, Presidents/Vice Presidents Sessions
The Union recognizes the District is not talking about issues in proactive ways.
More training locally required to educate and inform members necessary.
Meghan Black, Bargaining Sessions
I greatly enjoyed both days! We had phenomenal chats, both days.
We discussed the need to restructure the Bargaining framework and Bargaining conference to give smaller locals more of a voice in provincial Bargaining.
I learned all the districts in our Zone have similar concerns around Bargaining and working conditions.
We shared that many of our teachers are feeling overloaded with trauma-informed practice being downloaded on teachers.
Shay Best, Occupational Health and Safety Sessions
We discussed the biggest concerns that we see at Elementary and Secondary schools, the same concerns are seen at all the schools and in all districts is:
1. Workplace violence
2. Having effective site based JOH&S and DJOH&S committees
We also looked at a number of surveys that BCTF conducted – what stood out was that teachers who felt supported by their employer experienced less physical and mental stress!
We also looked at the steps one takes to Refuse Unsafe Work!
Charlie Shearer, Social Justice Sessions
During the two days we had a number of wide ranging conversations touching on issues such as climate change, poverty, racism, indigenous topics, and LGBTQ2S+ Issues. We also discussed what resources are available at the BCTF level to help implement some of the things discussed.
Moving forward I will be applying for a number of grants to help implement initiatives such as ensuring all food containers are environmentally friendly, purchasing SOGI merch for distribution amongst clubs, providing release time for SOGI/environmental club leaders.
Mid term: Accessing funds to host speakers through the BCTF to speak in Vernon on social justice issues.
Potential Long term: Collaboration between Okanagan SJ leads in order to host a SJ zones conference focused on the economic disparities experienced in the interior utilizing the $25K conference grant.