While the remainder of the school year will likely be completed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a tentative agreement on a new contract for teachers has been reached between the B.C. Public Schools Employers Association (BCSPEA) and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).
The union announced the agreement on Thursday night and is in the process of sending details of the deal, via email, to its membership.
Due to the pandemic, the ratification vote amongst all 45,000 members “will be different this time around” and what that will look like is being determined, the union wrote on its Twitter feed.
No details of the deal are yet known, though the tentative agreement was reached under the provincial government’s sustainable services negotiating mandate, which includes a three-year term and caps per year wage increases at two per cent.
"It’s good news in a more sombre way," BCTF president Terri Mooring said in a tweet. "Now that we have a deal, we can fully focus on contributing to our communities. Teachers are uniquely equipped to be of support during these challenging times."
Teachers have been without a new contract since the end of June 2019 and had been teaching into the 2019-2020 school year without a new deal.
At issue for the union were increasing wages for to attract more teachers to B.C. and enhanced class size and composition language.
Further details about the agreement will be available once the ratification processes for the teachers and the employer-members of BCPSEA have been completed, a provincial press release stated.
The union had been seeking creative way to raise wages without breaking those terms for a base salary increase.
In November, mediator David Schaub prepared a report recommending the two sides agree to a three-year contract, with a six per cent raise over the life of the deal, a $25.6-million fund to address workplace issues and to hold off on making changes to class size and composition language until the next round of contract bargaining.
The BCPSEA was willing to agree to those terms, but the BCTF rejected it as it did not address its priorities regarding enhancing class size and composition language and improving wages.
In Kamloops, local talks wrapped up last spring, but lingering topics ‚ such as retuning School District 73 to a two-week spring break — can be discussed by the Kamloops Thompson Teachers’ Association and SD73 if the provincial deal is ratified.