POLITICS

Significant dates in B.C.'s troubled relationship with its teachers

09/16/2014 08:18 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:52 EDT
VANCOUVER - Significant dates in the long history of labour unrest within B.C.'s public education system:

1987: B.C.'s Social Credit government passes a law that gives teachers the right to form a union and strike. However, the B.C. Teachers' Federation largely sees it as an attack, since the law also decentralizes bargaining to local school districts, removes compulsory membership in the federation and establishes the B.C. College of Teachers.

1988-1993: The province's schools are beset by dozens of strikes under the new system, the first of which happened in Kitimat in November 1988, when teachers walk off the job for 10 days. In 1993, the NDP government uses legislation to end strikes in Vancouver and Surrey.

1994: The provincial government establishes provincewide collective bargaining between the teachers' federation and the newly created B.C. Public School Employers' Association, which negotiates on behalf of school boards and the government.

1998: The province negotiates a collective agreement directly with the teachers' union, bypassing the B.C. Public School Employers' Association. The contract is imposed on school boards through legislation.

August 2001: The recently elected Liberal government passes legislation that declares K-12 education an essential service.

January 2002: The government uses legislation to impose a contract and remove hundreds of provisions related to class size and class composition from the teachers' collective agreement, while also prohibiting those issues from being part of future negotiations. Teachers walk off the job for one day in protest. Christy Clark, who would become premier in nine years, is education minister.

May: The B.C. Teachers' Federation files a constitutional challenge of the legislation.

October 2005: The B.C. government imposes a collective agreement on teachers, which prompts a two-week strike that is later ruled illegal.

June 2006: With the help of labour mediator Vince Ready, teachers and their employer reach a five-year collective agreement that includes a 16 per cent wage increase and a signing bonus of $4,000 per teacher. It is the first provincewide contract that did not require some form of legislation.

April 2011: A B.C. Supreme Court judge rules the 2002 legislation removing class size and composition from bargaining is unconstitutional. The court ruling restores the deleted provisions and gives the government one year to come up with a fix.

September: During negotiations, teachers withdraw a number of administrative tasks such as filling out report cards.

March 5, 2012: Teachers walk off the job for three days.

March 15: The government passes back-to-work legislation, which again deletes the clauses related to class size and class composition that were initially removed in 2002. The legislation allows class size and class composition to be part of future negotiations.

June 26: The teachers' federation and the employer reach a two-year collective agreement. The union files a court challenge of the most recent back-to-work legislation the following day.

Jan. 27, 2014: A B.C. Supreme Court judge again rules the provincial government violated teachers' collective bargaining rights by removing clauses related to class size and class composition and by prohibiting those issues from being negotiated. The ruling also awards the union $2 million.

Feb. 4: The B.C. government files an appeal.

May 26: The teachers' union begins rotating, one-day-a-week strikes throughout the province's school districts

June 17: Teachers stage a full-scale strike, cancelling the final two weeks of the school year.

Sept. 2: The first day of the school year is postponed.

Sept. 11: Education Minister Peter Fassbender no longer rules out back-to-work legislation — an option he previously insisted he would not use.

Sept.16: A tentative agreement is reached between the teachers' union and the government.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly said the strike in Kitimat, B.C., was in 1998