The Maple Ridge Teachers Association is criticizing Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton for accepting a$1,800 cheque, one of more than 40,000 issued to B.C. teachers as a “signing bonus” after September’s collective agreement.
MRTA president George Serra explained it was not really a signing bonus. In fact, the union accepted $105 million, and in exchange agreed it will not file any retroactive grievances if the BCTF wins its pending court case against the government.
The union has already won two judgements against the government, which unilaterally stripped class size and composition language out of the collective agreement with teachers in 2002. Another judgement is expected this spring.
If the union is successful in the courts, class size language from 2002 would be restored. However, in accepting the $105 million, the union agreed it will not seek further damages for the past 12 years of working in classroom conditions outside of the collective agreement.
“That money is for our members, as a remedy to an issue we are fighting his [Dalton’s] government over in the Supreme Court,” said Serra.
The union sent approximately $1,800 to full-time teachers across the province, from the $105 million, starting in December.
The union was surprised when Don McRae, the minister of social development, let the BCTF know he had been mistakenly issued a cheque.
Although he is a former teacher, McRae returned the funds.
The BCTF reviewed its records to see if other non-teachers had been mistakenly issued a cheque, and found that Dalton, also a former teacher, had been sent one.
The union requested the money back, but Dalton argued he should be entitled to it.
Dalton said, although he is not an educator now, he was a teacher and BCTF member during part of the time covered by the redress – from 2002 to 2009 – before being elected MLA.
“The money was to address all grievances,” said Dalton. “My assumption is that anyone who taught in that time – that was due to them.”
He gave some of the money to his daughter for a vacation.
When contacted by the BCTF last week, and asked to reimburse the money, Dalton complied.
“I consider the matter resolved,” he said. “I sent it back right away.”
Serra said Dalton proposing that a Liberal MLA should be entitled to a remedy his government offered the province’s teachers shows “how unaware and out of tune he is to the current situation.”