Teachers to vote on tentative contract in May

In last week’s paper, Samantha Becotte, President of the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation, spoke about how “sometimes the best agreements are the ones that no one’s happy in the end of it.”

There was great optimism heading into the April 13 weekend that the STF and provincial government could hammer out a deal—maybe not one that both sides would be happy about, but a deal nonetheless to break months of strenuous relations.

Last Thursday, the STF called a press conference, saying they’ve been presented with what they called a ‘final offer’ after two days of bargaining talks.

“Over the past two days, we have engaged in difficult conversations within negotiations,” Becotte said. “As we had said before, we didn’t want to go and sit at a table and hear ‘no’ for another two days as we had previously experienced. Unfortunately, that is a majority of what occurred at the bargaining table with the GTBC (Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee).”

What the parties came up with was a three-year agreement with teacher salary increases retroactive to September, 2023.

“The final offer included a three year term with salary increases of three per cent in the first year, three per cent in the second year, and two per cent in the third year, as well as the one line that we have previously talked about ensuring that the accountability framework would be honoured and followed,” said Becotte.

“In addition to that, outside of the collective agreement, there was an agreement to have a letter of undertaking signed by the chair of the GTBC. This letter would contain items outside of bargaining that would address some of the proposals that teachers have brought forward. Unfortunately, as we have talked about with concerns around items outside of bargaining with classroom complexity, anything within the letter of undertaking would be non binding and there is no dispute resolution process.”

In a media scrum last week, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill pointed to the positive aspects of the agreement.

“It’s going to keep our staff and teachers above the western Canadian average, we’ve got the largest increase to school operating funding for next year school year, we’ve obviously got the multi-year funding agreement to ensure that classroom supports funding are set at a minimum floor over the next four years,” he said.

“At the end of the day, good for students to ensure that we don’t have sanctions going forward that affect obviously curricular time, but all the extracurriculars and important things like graduation as well.”

The tentative agreement will go back to STF members for a vote on May 8 and 9.

Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator