B.C. teachers reach tentative deal with province on new contract

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B.C. teachers reach tentative contract agreement
B.C. teachers have a new contract to vote on. The BCTF says it will take its members from being among the lowest paid in the country to among the highest paid. Kylie Stanton has more on what both sides are saying about the deal – Oct 31, 2022

The provincial government has reached a tentative new contract with B.C.’s nearly 49,000 unionized teachers.

The BC Public School Employers’ Association announced the news on Monday, saying the agreement follows the provincial shared recovery mandate, which sets out specific wage increases, including inflation protection, while ensuring the government can protect services and support economic recovery.

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The BCTF sent an internal email, obtained by Global News, to members with details of the new agreement, which includes a general wage increase of 3.24 per cent in year one, 5.5 to 6.75 per cent in year two, and two to three per cent in year three. It also carries a $427 increase at each step of the salary grid in year one.

“These salary gains will help address recruitment and retention challenges in B.C. education as well as affordability issues for many members,” a tweet from the union reads.

“By the end of the three-year agreement, new members’ annual salary will be approximately $6,000 to $8,500 per year higher than it is now.”

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The two sides began bargaining on March 15, and eventually met for a total of 47 times.

The union said this deal will bring teachers even, or exceed, their counterparts in places like Calgary and Toronto.

For teachers at the top of their wage grids, their annual salary will be $10,000 to $13,500 more per year than it is now by the third year.

“There are significant achievements—shortening the grid, eliminating the lowest step and helping with recruitment and retainment of teachers, improving salary, and creating long-lasting benefits for teachers’ pensions and retirement security,” another BCTF tweet reads.

“For many B.C. teachers, our classroom conditions remain challenging and workload i(s) too high. We can’t fix these problems on our own.”

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The province would only negotiate workload changes if the union agreed to let go of the collective agreement language won in a Supreme Court of Canada case in 2016 on class size and composition.

“We were equally steadfast in our position that we would not accept changes that stripped or weakened our restored workload language,” the union said in a tweet.

“While we were not facing massive concessions like in 2019, the two sides’ positions are far apart, and we could not agree on a way forward. Despite the challenges and frustrations of negotiating workload, we are confident that the tentative agreement is a big step forward, especially on salary and benefits.”

Teachers will also get 10 additional minutes of prep time for elementary classes as well as improvements to health benefits such as counselling and glucose monitors. Also in the terms are enhanced pregnancy leave, better professional development funding, and recognizing the experience of teachers who taught in various First Nations schools on the salary grid.

The ratification vote will take place Nov. 16-18.

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