The B.C. government and teachers have ratified a new three-year collective agreement, which provides for a 2% pay increase annually.
The BC Teachers’ Federation announced on Twitter Friday that 98% of teachers agreed to the new terms, which were recommended by union executives.
“This was a long and tough round of negotiations where we had to fight off dramatic concessions that nobody anticipated,” stated BCTF president Teri Mooring, appearing to address some of the class size and composition negotiations that had to take place. “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 January there had been some discussion of escalating job action over class size and composition.
Of the 45,000 certified teachers in B.C., 31,838 voted.
The agreement comes as most teachers are attempting to teach from home during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Finance Minister Carole James previously stated the government was not backing down from the money it had allotted from a prescribed negotiating mandate.
The Sustainable Services Negotiating Mandate, according to the government website, applies to all public sector employers with unionized employees whose collective agreements expire on or after December 31, 2018. It calls for a three-year term with general wage increases of 2% each year, plus the ability to negotiate conditional and modest funding that can be used to drive “tangible service improvements.”
The agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2019, so with a 2021 election approaching, the typically labour-friendly BC NDP will be one year out from having to negotiate a new agreement in 2022, should it be re-elected.
The 2% mandate is slightly higher than the 0.5% base increases, plus bonuses based on provincial GDP growth, which were part of the previous BC Liberal government’s six-year contract (2013-2019).
The new contract also provides language for “a mediated process on how to support successful bargaining negotiations in future years.”