BC Teachers' Federation says it has made fair and respectful contract offer to striking professional staff already making average $97,000 salary and asks them to negotiate - not picket - at BCTF Annual General Meeting next week

    BCTF says $50,000 retirement gift and proposed $3,000 raise mean CEP
    staff well compensated

    VANCOUVER, April 26 /CNW/ - The BC Teachers' Federation has made a fair
and respectful contract offer to its striking professional staff - who it says
already make an average $97,000 salary - and is asking them to negotiate a
settlement, not disrupt the BCTF Annual General Meeting by picketing.
    BCTF President Jinny Sims said Thursday that teachers around the province
regret that BCTF's 39 professional staff, represented by Communications Energy
and Paperworkers (CEP) union local 464, is threatening to disrupt the AGM on
May 4-6 instead of finding a mutually agreeable solution.
    "Our CEP professional staff does an excellent job and the compensation
and benefits they receive from our members' dues are excellent also," Sims
said. "But BCTF members do not believe that professionals who would receive an
average wage of $100,000 by the end of this proposed contract are hard done by
and need to strike to get even more."
    Sims said the BCTF previously postponed its AGM in March in hopes of
reaching a new contract but that CEP Local 464 had not significantly moved
from its previous position since then despite several bargaining sessions.
    Sims said it is hard for ordinary teachers to understand why CEP staff
would strike and try to disrupt the AGM when they receive benefits no BCTF
member has, such as a gratuity of 50% of one year's salary upon retirement
after only 10 years service. Sims said 34 of the 39 professional staff are
former teachers.
    "When CEP staff retire they receive a gift of $50,000 each on average -
on top of their pensions - and our membership have told us that they cannot
afford to continue offering that benefit for employees hired in the future,"
Sims said. "So we have made a reasonable proposal that all existing bargaining
unit members will still get their gratuity when they retire but newly hired
staff will no longer be offered that sizeable bonus. We believe that is fair
and generous."
    Sims said BCTF members who make an average $63,000 salary believe the
wage gap between CEP professional staff and teachers has grown too large but
are still prepared to offer a significant increase.
    "As a result of consultation with our membership, we have offered what is
a generous salary increase of $3,000 over three years to staff who are already
highly-paid," Sims said. "This will narrow the gap between CEP staff and BCTF
members over time but is still a very fair offer."
    Sims said it is regrettable that CEP professional staff would try to
disrupt the BCTF AGM.
    "Our members are coming to Vancouver from across the province to exercise
their rights in a democratic union," Sims said. "The membership's business is
important and we strongly believe the staff should not be attempting to
pressure the members through an unwarranted expansion of their strike."
    Sims said the BCTF Executive fully recognize CEP Local 464's right to
strike but vigorously reject misleading CEP claims that the BCTF is "contract
stripping," saying the BCTF neither has any reason or the power to do so and
that it is committed to a negotiated settlement.
    BCTF has asked CEP Local 464 members to give up compensatory or lieu time
for occasional work done in the evening, Sims said, while it continues to
offer lieu time for any weekend work.
    "Professionals in all lines of work who make significant salaries are
occasionally required to conduct evening work and we are asking the CEP
professional staff to do the same," Sims said. "If those staff are required
for weekend work, then they would still receive lieu time off in return, which
we believe is fair."
    Sims also noted that BCTF's support staff are not on strike but are
honoring CEP picket lines at the BCTF headquarters, which is closed for the
duration of the dispute.

For further information:

For further information: Call Jinny Sims at cell (778) 994-9924; or
First Vice-president Irene Lanzinger at cell (604) 340-1923

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