June 1, 2007

CEP members have voted 22 to 13 in favor of accepting a three-year contract that was hammered out in overnight bargaining

The package provides wage increases of six per cent, changes in benefits, and improvements in contract language.

The administrative staff will return to work Monday morning, after more than five weeks on the picketline. The CEP members staged job action April 26 and were locked out May 1 in a bitter dispute over contract stripping and concessions of retiree benefits.

CEP 464 President Anita Chapman paid special tribute to members of the Teachers' Federation Employees' Union who were tireless in their support on the picketline: "We fully appreciate the sacrifices they endured during this dispute. They were unwavering in their stand for union principles and we are deeply grateful for their support."

May 21, 2007

The BCTF is on the brink of a constitutional crisis that threatens its very existence

The BCTF constitution states an election must be held by June but the federation has cancelled two AGMs and a representative assembly, which approves the BCTF's budget. Without an approved fee and budget, the federation's authority to collect or spend money after June 30, 2007 will be in question.

The federation collects $3 million a month in union dues. But as its members are not receiving the necessary and important services because of the current lockout, they have legal recourse to compel the federation to live up to its responsibilities.

May 17, 2007

CEP pickets have succeeded in shutting down the BCTF's locked out headquarters at the Coast Hotel in downtown Vancouver

Human Resources Director and chief bargaining spokesperson, Walt Dallamore, crossed the picket line and a CEP photographer managed to take pictures of this anti-union action.

The escalation of the CEP picketing is an indication of the frustration level of members.

Meanwhile, all the CEP banners, leaflets, and placards that had adorned the outside of the BCTF building were stolen between the end of the Wednesday night picket shift and the arrival of the Thursday morning shift. A police report will be filed.

May 16, 2007

BCTF says NO to third party assistance to help break bargaining logjam

The BCTF has flatly refused any and all suggestions of third party assistance to help resolve the current impasse in contract bargaining with its locked out administrative staff. The CEP went to the BC Labour Relations Board last week to seek another try at mediation. The BCTF informed the LRB that it was not interested in mediation.

The CEP is stymied by this position, as the BCTF has relied on third party help in its negotiations with government for the past several years. It is well aware, then, of the benefits that such assistance can bring to the table.

The BCTF has also refused CEP's proposal for binding arbitration.

May 13, 2007

CEP and the BCTF will return to the bargaining table tomorrow morning

The move came after the CEP applied to the Labour Relations Board for mediation, although the BCTF has not yet offered an official response to the CEP's proposal for mediation.

It's the second time the CEP has turned to the LRB for help. The first attempt for mediation, in March, was unsuccessful in resolving the contract dispute. However, the situation has changed significantly in the past two months after the CEP went on strike and then was locked out by the BCTF on the eve of the CEP's suspension of picket action.

The CEP believes a negotiated settlement is the prefered method of concluding this dispute, but it will continue to seek third party assistance when it believes such help will move the negotiations forward.

May 6, 2007

BCTF refuses third party help; weekend bargaining fails

Locked out administrative staff at the BCTF are starting the week where they left off: on the picket line.

During weekend bargaining, the BCTF steadfastly refused third party help to settle the dispute. The CEP points out that the BCTF has frequently accepted help in bargaining with the provincial government, and is puzzled by its refusal to accept assistance to settle this contract.

Support for, and on, the picket line has been solid. Teachers, other unionists, and even sympathetic employers have pledged their support.

May 2, 2007

BCTF rejects act of goodwill and locks out CEP

The BCTF has taken the appalling action of locking out its administrative staff, just a few hours after the staff decided to suspend picket action as show of good faith.

The CEP says the action is unconscionable for a union employer. It had been trying to coax the BCTF back to the bargaining table and says the lockout is a slap in the face. CEP President, Anita Chapman, says her members have taken every initiative possible to find a settlement, including mediation and binding arbitration. Chapman says settlements can only be found at the table, and reiterates her union's offer to return to bargaining.

May 1, 2007

CEP brings down pickets

Members of CEP 464 will suspend their picket action Wednesday morning after the BCTF withdrew its injunction application and cancelled its annual general meeting.

The move is a show of good faith on the part of the CEP, and another positive approach to try to negotiate a fair and respectful contract. The BCTF has stated it wants a negotiated settlement, and so does the CEP. CEP 464 has previously suggested mediation and binding arbitration as pro-active attempts to kickstart talks.

The CEP members launched strike action last week. They were supported on the picketline by BCTF support staff, members of the Teachers' Federation Employees Union.

BCTF tries to revoke BC workers’ right to picket

The BC Teachers’ Federation will mark International Workers’ Day today by applying to the BC Labour Relations Board (LRB) for an order to remove the right of workers to picket their worksite. The BCTF is trying to stop its striking administrative staff from picketing its annual general meeting, which begins Friday in Vancouver.

The action could have devastating consequences for the entire labour movement in British Columbia. If the BCTF succeeds in arguing that financial and operational hardship is a reason to prohibit picketing, an extremely dangerous precedent will have been set, and every employer in the province would have the ability to apply the same ruling.

The fact the LRB application comes on International Workers’ Day when workers around the world celebrate the successes of the labor movement is one more irony in a dispute that has been marked by ironies and hypocrisies.

April 28, 2007

BCTF says no to binding arbitration

Yesterday the BCTF Executive Committee said no to binding arbitration.

They also said they were not prepared to return to the bargaining table unless CEP 464 was willing to agree to their concessionary demand on retiree benefits.

Instead of pursuing a settlement either at the bargaining table or with a third party, the BCTF has applied to the Labour Relations Board for an anticipatory order against CEP 464 picketing at the BCTF’s rescheduled Annual General Meeting.

CEP’s offer to go to binding mediation remains open.

April 27, 2007

CEP proposes binding arbitration

CEP 464 is proposing binding arbitration as a means of ending its contract dispute with the BCTF.

We believe that the best agreement is one freely negotiated between the parties but the employer is so entrenched in its bargaining position that we believe the help of a third party is necessary.

Yesterday, the BCTF again sought assurances that our job strike would not jeopardize the federation’s annual general meeting May 4-6. We have told the BCTF that it can ensure a risk-free AGM by reaching a settlement at the table, or by agreeing to binding arbitration.

April 26, 2007

CEP strikes the BCTF

CEP 464 is showing the BC Teachers' Federation what it's like to be on the wrong side of a picket line.

The administrative staff of the BCTF put up pickets early this morning in attempts to stop the BCTF executive from stripping their collective agreement and demanding concessions. The strike began just hours after contract talks ended.

The CEP is prepared to resume bargaining whenever the BCTF decides to return to the table.

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