School’s out but football’s on — union head not happy

The Ravens Mike West fights off the tackle of Julian Luis of the Mt. Douglas Rams during last year
The Ravens Mike West fights off the tackle of Julian Luis of the Mt. Douglas Rams during last year's B.C. AAA high school championship.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Tri-City teachers may be on strike this week along with their colleagues across the province but the high school football season appears to be going ahead as planned.

And the local teachers’ union president isn’t pleased.

In a statement to coaches, BC High School Football vice-presidentsKris Pechet said the BC School Sports (BCSS) league would leave it up to individual member schools to decide whether they would move forward with the season given the current job action.

“We see no reason to take away the choice the BCSS is making available to individual member schools,” he said in a statement. “In the event that any of our member schools choose not to play, we will respect those decisions and those schools will not be penalized. In addition, we also plan to respect all formal picket lines.”

In an interview with The Tri-City News, Pechet said that the majority of high school football coaches are not union members. He noted that there is a significant number of volunteer coaches who are employed outside of the school system and that only 20% of all coaches are BCTF members.



He also noted that he expects 15 of the 16 teams in the league will be participating in the upcoming season.

Terry Fox Ravens head coach Tom Kudaba said his team has been preparing for the season with the expectation that the current labour dispute will be resolved.

“It is a volunteer activity [for teachers],” he said. “It is an individual choice people can make.”

Coquitlam Teachers’ Association president Charley King said he was disappointed to learn that some coaches are planning to go ahead with the football season despite the job action.

“I think there is an awful lot at stake at the moment,” he said. “I think… running teams right now is absolutely the wrong priority.”

The Ravens were scheduled to play against Seattle this week but the game was cancelled because of the labour uncertainty. Kudaba said the league would be holding its annual meeting with members on Sept. 9 to discuss the impact of the strike on the season.

Meanwhile, Centen-nial Centaurs head coach Barry Taitinger confirmed that a game between his team and the New Westminster Hyacks would go ahead as planned on Friday night. Taitinger, who is not a Centennial teacher, noted that the “situation is fluid” and some schools have opted out but he has been holding practices and preparing for the upcoming season after hours and off school grounds.

“We have some commitments from other teams in the league,” he said. “We know they are practising. I believe there are some schools that [have opted out] but we haven’t received confirmation.”

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