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School District 43 teachers protesting Bill 22
Some 2,000 teachers across School District 43 are off the job today in protest of Bill 22, says Coquitlam Teachers Association president Teresa Grandinetti, and many are out front of schools with signs to let the public know their concerns.
Grandinetti said the job action is to protest Bill 22, which is winding its way through the legislature this week. The bill, which rolls over the current contact, imposes a mediator for some non-wage issues, removes the cap on special needs students and district averages for class size for Grade 4 to 12, is being debated in the legislature this afternoon (Tuesday.)
It is not expected to be passed for some days, by which time SD43 students and teachers could be off on spring break, which begins next Monday.
Grandinetti said the teachers are upset that Bill 22 is effectively legislating an end to negotiations.
"That's a big piece. It [also] doesn't resolve the issue around class size and composition. It removes what little protection there was around class size and composition. It takes away some of the rights teachers had previously and the money that's put into it, there doesn't seem to be any guarantees how the money will be used," she said, adding: "Bill 22 is not good for teachers, but really it's not good for kids," Grandinetti.
Grandinetti said unionized support workers, members of CUPE 561, were allowed to work today because teachers were only protesting, not picketing, according to Labour Relations Board essential services rules.
Meanwhile, teachers set up protest lines across the district and a drive by Port Moody and Gleneagle secondary schools, Moody middle and elementary schools and Glen elementary found groups of teachers holding signs and waving to cars.
Teachers will be off for Tuesday and Wednesday but by Thursday, students and teachers are expected to be back in class for the rest of the week, with the two week spring break beginning Monday, March 12.