Teachers to vote Thursday on tentative deal

The BC Teachers’ Federation claims it made “no concessions” to the government and the BC Public School Employers’ Association and is recommending that teachers ratify the tentative agreement reached on Tuesday.

Teachers will vote on the tentative agreement on Thursday, September 18. A date for the schoolchildren’s return to class has yet to be set.

“The tentative agreement will provide new support for students, ensure there are more specialist and classroom teachers in schools working with children, and protect teachers’ constitutional rights as the court case continues,” Union President Jim Iker said during a news conference televised on Livestream.com.

“Thanks to the courageous stand teachers took on the picket lines and the strong support of parents and other unions, BC teachers were able to get new money invested in schools and reach a mutually agreed-to process to deal with any future court decision on class size, class composition, and staffing levels.”

Iker outlined in broad strokes what he called “key achievements” for teachers and students in the tentative agreement:

  • Several hundred new teaching positions each year as a result of an annual education fund that will be used exclusively for bargaining unit members;
  • A mutually agreed-to process to address any future Court decision as well as the removal of the contentious Article E.80;
  • A significant grievance remedy fund that will be used as a one-time payment to members and will provide improvements in elementary preparation time;
  • Improvements in salary and extended health benefits;
  • Fair pay for teachers teaching on call for every day they work; and
  • No concessions.

However, news reports from the Lower Mainland suggest that individual teachers gave up a lot to reach the agreement now on the table.

“The… six-year deal gives teachers a total wage hike of 7.25 per cent, which is similar to the offer that the government’s negotiators put on the table in June,” says a story in The Globe & Mail. “Teachers will also not collect the $1,200 signing bonus that was on the table at that time – that offer expired on June 30.”

The Globe & Mail also said the government is putting about $100-million into a fund the union can distribute to its members to address the grievances from the 2002 law that stripped the contract of language on class size and composition.

It also said the BCTF’s “main victory” for the union is government willingness to create a new education fund exclusively for union members to class size and composition issues. Concerns about the number of special-needs students in each classroom have long been a major concern for teachers.

“BC’s teachers are proud of the stand we took for fairness and improved learning conditions and we were heartened every step of the way by the steady waves of public support,” Iker said, adding that the BCTF is grateful for the support it received from the BC Federation of Labour, the Canadian Labour Congress and other unions from BC and across Canada, as well as from members of the public.

Please click here to see what local teachers had to say.