Arbitration ruling provides teachers with modest gains in two-year agreement
An arbitration board has awarded a two-year contract to the approximately 13,500 members of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation.
It contains a zero percent salary increase in the first year of the agreement, and there is a one percent increase at the end of the second year. The agreement expires on August 31, 2019.
“We knew arbitration was going to have some wins and some losses,” STF President Patrick Maze commented after the process was concluded.
Maze acknowledged that teachers would likely find the salary aspect disappointing – although he stressed that “the government was insistent on the 3.67 percent decrease right until the end, which was avoided as a result of the ruling.”
Maze referred to teacher time and the ability to grieve their employers on matters related to their working conditions as two areas where he sees substantive improvement for the membership.
“After six years of uncertainty and confusion, teachers are now protected by the provisions of the Task Force on Teacher Time, something that was promised by the government but never delivered,” Maze stated.
According to Maze, the ruling also means “teachers now have greater protection against arbitrary decisions by their employers.”
STF Executive Director Randy Schmaltz added that “early on, teachers identified working conditions as being of primary importance. This decision provides us with the tools to move forward in a positive way.”
Arbitrator Arne Peltz also rejected a government proposal to significantly cut teacher sick leave.
In addition, all teacher fees paid to the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board will continue to be covered by the provincial government, which recently committed to fully funding the new contract.
The panel declined to accept a teacher proposal that would have addressed issues around class size and composition, something Maze described as disappointing.
“The arbitrator didn’t see fit to award that, which is frustrating because we want the best learning situation for our students,” Maze said.
“This is the first time we adopted the arbitration route and we have accomplished quite a lot,” Maze said. “I would like to personally thank teachers for their patience and support throughout this long and complicated process,” he added.
Maze also expressed his sincere thanks to Peltz and his board members (which included Carol Moen representing the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee) for delivering a comprehensive and clearly written report delivered within a very condensed time frame.
“There is still plenty of hard work to be done as both sides must now sit down and translate this report into workable contract language,” Maze said.
“We know that every day teachers work many hours preparing to meet the needs of a growing and diverse body of students – then they deliver that quality instruction in the classroom.”
The report of the Arbitration Board is binding and final and will not be subject to a vote by members of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. Section 246 (5) of The Education Act, 1995 states that the orders and decisions of an arbitration board cannot be reviewed by a court of law or any other proceeding.
The current provincial bargaining agreement expired August 31, 2017. According to Schmaltz, work has already begun in preparation for the next round of provincial bargaining. It is anticipated talks will commence in the spring of 2019.