BCPVPA backs members bid for certification
Letter to the Editor
The BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association (BCPVPA) issued a statement recently about the BC Labour Relations Board (LRB) decision on the application for certification by the Southeast Kootenay Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association (SEKPVPA).
The statement was issued to the Southeast Kootenay Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association, Board of School Trustees of School District No. 5 (Southeast Kootenay) and the Attorney General of British Columbia.
The BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association (BCPVPA) represents more than 2,600 members employed as school leaders in B.C.’s public school system.
We support our members not only in their learning and professional development, but also in their employment relationships to provide support and help them to achieve their workplace goals. Over the past 18 months, we have supported a group of our members – the Southeast Kootenay Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association (SEKPVPA) – in their application for certification to unionize. We shared the deep disappointment of those members when the British Columbia Labour Relations Board (LRB) issued their decision on the eve of the Victoria Day weekend dismissing the application.
It has been a protracted and difficult journey for the SEKPVPA members. The lack of support offered to SEKPVPA members by the School District No. 5 (SD5) Board of Education has resulted in several members returning to teaching and the employment security found in that bargaining unit, a sad loss of leadership in BC’s K-12 system.
Early in 2020, the employment relationship in SD5 reached a point where the SEKPVPA members felt compelled to seek certification. The application for certification was originally submitted in March 2020, and hearings only began in February 2021.
The May 21, 2021 LRB decision can be found here, and SEKPVPA has the right to file an appeal before June 10, 2021.
The May 21 LRB decision offers a glimpse into the roles and responsibilities of those working in the district and outlines the areas of oversight for Principals and Vice-Principals. There is recognition of the critical part that SEKVPVPA members play in the success of public education in the district, and the complexity of the work they do to support students in their schools.
A pivotal point of argument in the hearing was whether Principals and Vice- Principals in SD5 are managers, with all associated rights as contended by the Employer, or whether they are employees as expressed by the SEKPVPA and not subject to managerial exclusion. In supporting the Employer’s argument, government maintained the position that non-unionized employees are more loyal to their employer than unionized employees, with the expectation of “undivided loyalty” in a labour relations context.
The decision leaves unaddressed the constitutional issue raised by SEKPVPA, in regard to the constitutional rights of members and their ability to collectively negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The BCPVPA believes that all employees have the right to fairness and equity in their working lives, and that fundamental rights and freedoms under the Charter need to be protected. For more than six years, the BCPVPA has been advocating with the provincial government to achieve negotiation representation for our members so that they can maintain focus on supporting BC students, teachers, and support staff to achieve success in their own work.
To conclude with a Canadian context, British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in Canada that does not provide Principals and Vice-Principals with the ability to provincially negotiate a number of their terms of employment. The BCPVPA does not believe that BC school leaders deserve less than other Canadian school leaders in their employment relationships.
Darren Danyluk, President,
BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association