SD5 chapter first in BCPVPA to apply for union certification
The BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association (BCPVPA) today confirmed that one of its 60 B.C. Chapters has applied for union certification.
The Southeast Kootenay Principals and Vice-Principals Association (SKPVPA) in School District No. 5 (SD5) applied to B.C.’s Labour Relations Board (LRB) for certification on March 10. The application has been in process for more than six months, and a recent attempt to resolve the Chapters’ concerns through LRB mediation were discontinued by the SD5 School Board.
The SKPVPA and the BCPVPA are now awaiting the LRB’s confirmation of a scheduled hearing date for the application.
B.C.’s Principals and Vice-Principals are the only Canadian school administrators who do not have the right to collective representation for negotiation. The certification application by the SKPVPA follows more than six years of advocacy by the BCPVPA to establish a provincial negotiation table to represent B.C.’s school leaders.
“The BCPVPA is committed to promoting the health and wellness of our members,” said BCPVPA President Darren Danyluk. “That includes ensuring that their employment relationships are not having a negative impact on their capacity to effectively lead BC’s K-12 public schools, especially through the new complexities presented by the pandemic.
“We have been very respectfully advocating for a provincial negotiating table for common contractual terms, both with the current NDP government and with the Liberal government that preceded it. We absolutely respect the autonomy of local school boards and agree that there would still need to be latitude for unique local concerns and circumstances,” stated Danyluk, who is principal of David Thompson Secondary School in Invermere, with School District No. 6.
“But for issues like salary placement in accordance with the BC Public School Employers Association’s (BCPSEA) standards on their provincial grid, and maternity leave and short-term disability, those are provisions that every professional educator expects, and they are not being applied consistently throughout the province. It’s been more than six years, and we’re still waiting for government to respond in a meaningful way, or to offer alternative solutions,” he said.
Danyluk confirmed that the BCPVPA fully supports the SKPVPA in its application.
As part of the recent mediation, SKPVPA asked for the contract language of members’ personal services contracts to be restored to the original language of the master district contract, which was written collaboratively in 2013. The SD5 school board declined.
“We were hopeful for the mediation, and felt that restoring the language of the master contract would be supportive for our SD5 members while we waited for the province to respond to our advocacy for a provincial table,” said Danyluk. “Our members across the province do not want to unionize. But our chapter in SD5 has concluded that certification may be their only path to achieving fairness in their contracts, and they are not the only chapter that has talked to us about the possibility of certification.
“The SD5 members want to focus on their work, and not be distracted by the erosion of their rights and compensation. One example of inequity is that the contracts in SD #5 don’t include maternity provisions. Many new vice-principals are young women: what happens to them when they decide to start a family? It’s not something that an education professional in Canada should have to think about.”
Danyluk added, “Members in some districts are presented with employment contracts that have clauses arbitrarily rewritten or removed by the district, and the members are told that they can choose to sign, or choose not to sign and move on from the role. That doesn’t instill trust, or provide any sense of employment stability for those school leaders.”
Danyluk is hopeful that during this election period, people in B.C. will ask their local candidates how their parties plan to support Principals and Vice-Principals in their work. “Maybe you’re a new voter who is recently out of high school, maybe you’re the parent of a child in the K-12 system, or maybe your neighbour is a school leader. Principals and Vice-Principals touch many BC lives, and I hope that people will speak out about their critical role in local communities.”
He stressed that the work of principals and vice-principals has intensified in recent years, with responsibilities that have dramatically accelerated in 2020 through the pandemic.
“Our BCPVPA members have proven their skill and resilience in addressing every challenge that COVID-19 has presented,” said Danyluk. “They are there on the frontlines modeling calm, and prioritizing health and safety protocols. They are offering stability and making sure that students are getting the education and connection that they need. They’re passionate about doing that. But they are also looking for fair treatment.”
Submitted by the BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association – a voluntary professional association representing more than 2600 school leaders in BC’s 60 public school districts. The BCPVPA provides its members with the professional services and support they need to provide outstanding leadership in public education.