B.C. teachers have ratified a new three-year deal approving general rate increases of two per cent each year.
The deal was announced on Friday morning after 98 per cent of members voted in favour.
The agreement covers more than 45,000 teachers represented by the B.C. Teachers Federation. The contract is retroactive back until July 1, 2019, and will go until June 30, 2022.
Teachers have agree to an additional one per cent wage increase in 2020 to the top step of the teacher salary grid in each district.
The two sides also have agreed to a mediated process on how to “support successful bargaining” negotiations in future years.
The two sides reached a tentative agreement at the end of March. Teachers have been out of the classroom due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic but have still been working.
“This was a vote like no other in our history and I am proud of how quickly our union was able to come up with new ways to engage so many people during this time of physical and social distancing,” BCTF president Teri Mooring said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“This was a long and tough round of negotiations where we had to fight off dramatic concessions that nobody anticipated. Thanks to your public advocacy and solidarity, we were able to get the employer to back down and make some important gains for you, our members.”
In total 31,838 BCTF members voted, with 31,087 voting in favour and 751 voting against.
The deal falls inside the province’s public sector negotiating mandate, capping salary increases to two per cent a year. About 290,000 public-sector employees are covered by tentative or ratified deals reached under the mandate.
Education Minister Rob Fleming describes the vote as ‘resounding’ support for the new deal.
“Like other rounds of public sector bargaining in the end it was about give and take and fitting within the sustainable services mandate,” Fleming said.
“What we were able to do is take the contract and make it a little more attractive for new teachers.”
Negotiations in recent memory between the province and the teachers union have been challenging.
The union has been concerned about overall wages and recruiting teachers to remote areas of the province and areas with a high cost of living.
The wage increase to the top step will address some of the challenge’s connected to recruiting.