ETEA will be holding a Special General Meeting on March 2nd, 2017 on the 4th floor of the YWCA at 535 Hornby Street. The meeting will be called to order at 6:30 pm. Light refreshments and snacks will be available from 6:00 to 6:30.
The purpose of this meeting is to make additions and amendments to the ETEA bylaws. In order for any changes to the by-laws to pass a two-thirds majority vote of the members present will be required.
There are three areas of proposed by-law changes:
- A mid-term re-assessment of how much each local is required to pay ETEA Central. This change is to make the amount each local pays to ETEA Central more equitable.
- A change to the review of ETEA finances to bring it in line with the requirements of the BC Labour Code
- Adding articles around strikes, including a mechanism to establish an ETEA strike fund, how the fund can be used, and punishment for members that cross a legal picket line if their local goes on strike.
There is also a proposal for a dedicated dues increase in order to establish an ETEA strike fund. Before this proposal can be discussed, members must first approve a change to the by-laws.
An email with relevant documents for this meeting was sent using our mailing list. If you did not receive this email please subscribe to the mailing list or contact your local union representative.
ETEA is happy to announce that it is holding two related events on Thursday, December 1st, 2016. We’re having a social for private college and ESL instructors from 4:30 to 7:-00 pm at Goldies Pizza (605 West Pender Street, at Seymour, northwest side, downstairs). This will be a great chance to meet and/or reconnect with other ESL and career college teachers from different schools and institutes throughout the city, talk about work and life in the field of private post-secondary education, and relax after a long day at work. Different varieties of delicious pizza and one drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) will be provided to all attendees.
Immediately before the social, at the same location, we will be hosting a roundtable discussion on life in the private teaching field. Our moderators will be leading a discussion on questions like “are teaching jobs in the private sector suitable for long-term careers, or are they inevitably precarious, short-term, contract-based, substitute, or part-time?” and “do teachers in this industry we have the working conditions we need and deserve, and if not, how can we get them?” We hope to have approximately 10-12 teachers from various sections of the industry show up to the event, but all are welcome, and someone will be on site from ETEA regardless.
If you would like to attend either or both events please drop by, and tell your friends and colleagues in the field! If you’d like further information about these events, the venue, or the ETEA, please contact Dan at 778-855-0900.
Update: we held similar teachers’ outreach events on January 26th at Waves Coffee on Hastings, and on March 16th at Moose’s Down Under pub on Pender. We will continue to hold these kinds of events occasionally over the next few months to try to reach out to teachers in this city to talk about teaching careers and working conditions in Vancouver. See our Meetup.com page for more information. You can also check our facebook page or our Twitter account for updates!
The following is a statement from Kevin Drager, President of the Education and Training Employees’ Association (ETEA), Local 21 of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators:
Yesterday our members at ETEA Local 9, the teachers at Vancouver English Centre, received a copy of an email from the school owner, Ken Gardner, in which he accused the union of holding a strike to damage the school.
Mr. Gardner’s union-blaming is a false and malicious response to a good faith attempt by ETEA-9 to resume negotiations and re-open the school.
Here are the facts:
- The teachers made every effort to negotiate a reasonable contract for 15 months, while the employer repeatedly cancelled bargaining dates, refused to respond to proposals, and did everything possible to hold up negotiations. Gardner had the option of bargaining in good faith.
- Eventually, the parties agreed to mediation, but when the union presented its latest offer via the mediator, the employer chose to walk out rather than responding, leaving the union with no choice but to go on strike. We thought we were close to a deal, but with the employer no longer willing to speak to us strike action was the only option left available to the union. Gardner could have prevented the strike. All he had to do was reply to an offer via the mediator and keep bargaining.
- The union’s proposals were reasonable. The key issue still outstanding was a significant pay gap between the “Skills 4 Kids” teachers and the rest of the teachers, a gap of over 50% in some cases. Most of the teachers earned less than a living wage, and many lived below the poverty line. The union was attempting to narrow the gap and bring all the teachers into line with the industry standard.
- VEC teachers earn anywhere from 25 – 50 per cent less than the industry standard. We proposed wage increases that will allow the teachers to earn at least a family-supporting, living wage in Metro Vancouver. We proposed that wages also include prep time (such as curriculum development), marking, and student consultations, which we had been required to provide for free. Quality education requires that students receive adequate supports, and as teachers, our members are deeply committed to the students. Gardner cared more about his own profits than about the quality of education for students.
- Our members’ wages have been stagnant for five years – have actually declined when factoring in the rise in cost of living – yet tuition fees (and therefore the employer’s revenue and profit margins) have increased significantly in that same period.
- In the early days of the strike the union invited Mr. Gardner back to the bargaining table, but he chose instead not to respond. After three weeks on strike, the employer finally agreed to return to private mediation – and the union was shocked when instead of showing up, he closed the school!
- The teachers are devastated by the school closure. Every one of them cares a lot about their students, they love their jobs, and they had genuinely believed that the mediation would help them get back to work.
The impact of this employer’s refusal to bargain in good faith and subsequent school closure is a clear indication of why private language and career schools need to be properly regulated by the provincial government, including means for enforcement. Self-regulation by bodies that are essentially lobby groups for the industry doesn’t offer any real protection for the workers or the students. In this case, the employer refused to refund the students their money; nor did he pay the homestay families the money that he had collected and was supposed to use to compensate them. He also supposedly continued to collect tuition from agents and students while the strike was ongoing and after he had decided to close the school.
Mr. Gardner is claiming insolvency. He claims the union ruined his business. But Mr. Gardner had 15 months to explain to the union that his financial situation was too precarious to meet their demands. Instead, he refused to open his books, and as late as last week, claimed he was offering to pay industry-standard wages.
ETEA and FPSE are reviewing all our options, including legal action, in response to the Employer’s abrupt decision to close the school. We will keep members informed about next steps.
On behalf of all the members of ETEA, we extend our solidarity and support to all the teachers and members of ETEA-9. We are with you 100%.
Local 9 (VEC) has completed 3 days of job action, picketing in front of VEC. Teachers have been taking shifts picketing in front of the school on Smithe Street, and have received a lot of welcome support from teachers at other locals, passersby and students. VEC remains open; however, no classes are running. For more details, check out their Facebook page and Twitter feed.
This year has been an active year in regards to ETEA bargaining. We’ve had up to six locals bargaining (Locals 2, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12) so far this year, with three of them working on achieving their first collective agreement. Two locals (Locals 6 and 7) have ratified collective agreements. Many thanks to the bargaining teams, local executives and FPSE staff representatives for helping us through this busy time.
Four locals choose to take strike votes this year in an effort to reach an agreement with their employers. Locals 9 (VEC) and Local 11 (Hanson International), each voted 100 % in favour of job action. Both these locals are attempting to reach their first collective agreement with difficult employers. In the near future, we may be calling upon ETEA members to show solidarity and support should these locals need to commence job action in order to reach an agreement.
Local 7 ratified their agreement on May 1st. The biggest gain from their new collective agreement is an increase in guaranteed prep time (equivalent to a 4.9% salary increase for full-time employees).
Local 6’s (KGIC) collective agreement expired in February of 2015. In an effort to get the employer back to the bargaining table, the teachers of KGIC voted 95% in favour of job action. This resulted in the employer agreeing to return to the table, and after some long evening sessions of bargaining the two sides reached an agreement. KGIC teachers recently voted to ratify their collective agreement which, amongst other gains, brings improvements to the pay structure of coordinators and bumping rights.
Local 2 (EC) has been in bargaining for seven months and recently voted 97.5 % in favour of job action. They have further bargaining dates scheduled for August, and are hopeful that the employer will present a package they can work with. However, the teachers are firm in their expectations for bargaining and may be considering their options should they reach an impasse.
Finally, Local 12 (Cloud 9 college, formerly ILI) is set to resume their bargaining. At this point they are working on scheduling bargaining dates in hopes of reaching a first collective agreement.