Saskatchewan teachers, province agree on new four-year contract

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, provincial government reach deal on new contract after conciliation board releases report.
Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, provincial government reach deal on new contract after conciliation board releases report.

SASKATOON – Teachers in the province have a new contract. The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) and the provincial government agreed on a new deal after a report was released by the conciliation board.

Under the four-year deal, which takes effect immediately, teachers will receive a 7.55 per cent increase. There will also be a 0.25 per cent increase in government pension contribution rates starting July 1, 2016.

Andrew Sims, the chair of the conciliation board, said it is the best deal for both parties.

“After working through the conciliation process, as a board we saw no possibility of agreement on any terms more favourable to either party,” said Sims in a release. “We believe the terms in the report represent the best agreement possible given the circumstances and the interests of all parties.”

The deal is back-dated to Sept. 1, 2013. Teachers will receive a 1.85 per cent increase in the first year, followed by 1.9 per cent increases in the following three years. Those teachers no longer employed will receive retroactive pay.

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The report also looked at teacher time and workloads and the parties have agreed to create a task force to look at these issues. The Ministry of Education has also agreed to any associated professional fees for the first two years of a new regulatory body once it is established.

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Teachers had rejected two previous contract offers. The last tentative contract, which would have given teachers a 7.3 per cent increase, was rejected in June 2014 by 63 per cent of the members who voted. In October 2013, a 6.5 per cent increase was rejected by 73 per cent of teachers.

An application for conciliation was made after the second tentative contract was rejected. The conciliation board was made up of three people: one each from the STF and GTBC, and a mutually agreed upon chairperson.

The vice-president of the STF, Randy Cline, said it was in the best interests of teachers to accept the conciliation report.

“After careful deliberations, members of the teachers’ bargaining committee and STF executive agreed with the conciliation board’s strong and unanimous advice to accept the terms of settlement,” said Cline.

Connie Bailey, who is part of the government-trustee bargaining committee (GTBC), said the conciliation process allowed them to better understand teacher’s concerns.

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“The GTBC listened to teachers, developed a deeper understanding of the issues, and during the conciliation process we were able to respond to some of those concerns,” said Bailey.

The two sides say they will work together to formalize the terms of settlement into a new collective bargaining agreement.