Frequently Asked Questions

We encourage you to reference these frequently asked questions. If you do not find the information you are looking for, please contact us at bargaining@stf.sk.ca.

Sanctions

  • A sanction refers to any collective action or activity by STF members as directed by the STF Executive to further the goal of achieving a fair and reasonable collective bargaining agreement.
  • The imposition of a sanction is a strike action by law.

The range of sanction options may include:

  • A broad spectrum. They may include rotating, partial or total withdrawal of voluntary and professional services. A successful sanctions vote does not mean we are obligated to take sanction action.
  • Actions may also include rallies or study sessions at the local, regional and provincial levels.
  • Duration and location of the sanction may vary.
  • The purpose of a sanction is to create pressure on government.
  • The strategic deployment of a sanction action requires keeping the action quiet until such time as the action needs to be shared.
  • The nature of the sanction action will determine the notification period that is required.
  • STF members will be notified first and at a time that is strategic.
    • The most direct communication is via the STF app.
  • Employers will be notified after members and in an appropriate time frame.
  • Sanctions have the potential to create uncertainty and discomfort.
  • STF members will likely experience a wide range of emotions as they balance their personal, professional and collective commitments.
  • Pay attention to relationships with colleagues and support one another.
  • Pay attention to relationships with parents and community members. Share information that will help increase the public’s understanding of STF members' commitment to students and public education.
  • Get professional support. The Federation provides confidential counselling through the Member Family Assistance Plan (MFAP) at ComPsych (1-833-485-4245).
  • While some members of the public may be frustrated by sanctions, when possible help engage community members’ support by sharing that the ultimate goal of sanctions is to compel the government to enter an agreement that will improve learning conditions for students as well as ensuring members receive appropriate compensation.
  • A few messages you may share with parents and your community are:
    • We know this creates uncertainty for parents, students and the community.
    • The sanctions vote does not necessarily mean there will be a withdrawal of services. While that is a possibility, there are other sanctions that could also be imposed.
    • We are looking to address class complexity so there is assurance and accountability that schools will be properly resourced with the supports students need.
  • Announcing and conducting a sanctions vote is the first strategic step.
  • The next step in the process is a strategic action determined largely by the vote result.
  • Boards of education and/or the provincial government may react to sanctions by making decisions that could shift the course of sanctions activities.
  • Examples of these decisions or actions are:
    • Legislated return to work.
    • Lockout by individual boards of education.
    • Application to courts for an injunction to restrict, prohibit or delay sanctions.
    • Legislated “agreement.”
  • All STF members will be expected to participate fully in any sanctions taken. There may be some minor differences based on a member’s role. Expectations will be clearly communicated in advance of any sanction action taking place.
  • All STF members will be expected to participate fully in any sanctions taken.
  • STF members who are seconded to the Ministry or post-secondary institutions would not be expected to participate, given their contractual commitments to a third-party employer, even though technically they are still employed by the board of education.
  • Saskatchewan teachers have participated in a full withdrawal of services (strike) only once in the province’s history. This occurred in May 2011, when after ten months of bargaining – including 21 days of direct negotiations and nine days of conciliation – it became clear that government was unwilling to participate in an agreement which affirmed the true value of teachers.
  • On April 13, 2011, a sanctions vote passed with 95 percent support, and teachers withdrew professional services on May 5. Many spent the day volunteering at various locations within their local communities, including the Canadian Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity, while others participated in a rally at the Saskatchewan legislature. Two more full withdrawals of service occurred on May 25 and 26, which were followed by a withdrawal of voluntary services on May 30 and 31.
  • At the heart of the dispute was government’s salary offer of 1.5, 2 and 2 percent over the course of a three-year contract, justified on the notion that such an increase aligned with other public sector settlements at that time. The Teachers’ Bargaining Committee held that this was insufficient, and far from the proposed 16.3 percent increase over three years. Due to pressure applied on government by the enduring resolution of teachers, a special mediator was appointed to help resolve the dispute.
  • A collective agreement was signed on October 4, 2011, which resulted in teachers receiving a salary increase of 6.82 to 10.89 percent over three years, depending on their grid position.

If professional services are fully withdrawn:

  • Sanction days in which professional services are fully withdrawn would not count towards the 20-day qualification period for STF Members’ Health Plan benefits. Coverage would begin once the qualification period is served, but benefits would be paid retroactively to your contract start date.
  • Long-term disability coverage would not begin until your first active day of teaching.
  • Under the Pension Plan, service would be credited for up to 15 cumulative days of sanctions. Any sanction days over and above the 15-day maximum would not be automatically credited to you, but would be available for purchase.

If professional services are not fully withdrawn:

  • Sanction days in which you are still in the classroom teaching would count towards your 20-day qualification period for STF Members’ Health Plan benefits. Coverage would begin once the qualification period is served, and benefits would be paid retroactively to your contract start date.
  • Long-term disability coverage would begin on your first active day of teaching.
  • You would continue to contribute to the pension plan and earn pension service as normal.
  • Timing is as important a strategy as the action taken, and this is particularly true when balancing the need to apply pressure to the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee with the need for public support.
  • The Teachers’ Bargaining Committee and the STF Executive will be working to maintain and enhance public support of STF members, and it is unlikely that STF members would be asked to purposefully jeopardize high school credits or graduation.
  • First and foremost, STF members are expected to participate in any sanctions approved by the STF Executive
  • The ability to secure additional employment will depend on the nature of the employment and on the specific type of sanction employed.
  • In the event of a withdrawal of professional services, STF members will be required to report to a specific location in order to sign in, thus impacting their ability to work.
  • If sanctions are drawn out, STF members may feel a need to pursue other employment for financial reasons.
  • This would only present a problem if such employment prevented an STF member from fulfilling his or her professional obligation to participate in the sanction.
  • It is presumed that they would participate in sanctions upon their return should sanctions be ongoing.
  • The nature of the sanction employed will determine the status of field trips occurring during periods of sanctions.
  • STF Members are expected to participate in lawful sanctions as approved by the STF Executive. In the event of a withdrawal of professional services, or in some cases voluntary services, fields trips scheduled for the same period of time would have to be cancelled.
  • Exemption from participating in sanction action will only be granted in extremely compelling circumstances. Information will be posted on the STF website following the notification of a sanction action.
  • The sanctions identified reflect the range of sanctions deemed viable at this point in time. Should further sanctions be contemplated they will be communicated to the membership.
  • The employer is responsible for ensuring the safety of students during the lunch break. In many, if not all school divisions, the employers ask teachers to volunteer to provide lunch break supervision and the employer provides some level of remuneration or time-in-lieu for the volunteer hours provided.
  • February 2020 Frequently Asked Questions 5 Appendix G, Clause 17.7 of the Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement to which our parties are committed states that supervision of students during recess or break periods is considered to be part of the teachers’ professional responsibility and, therefore, is not considered to be assigned time.
  • In the imposition of a lawful sanction action, teachers, principals, vice-principals, coordinators and consultants have a Charter right to carry out an action that supports efforts to reach a negotiated collective agreement. In the event that a sanction action is imposed and members are directed not to provide supervision, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure there are sufficient non-teacher supervisors in place so that good order can be maintained. A member is protected from liability if they are following the direction of their bargaining team in carrying out a lawful sanction action.
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrines the rights of individuals to the Freedom of Association under
    Section 2(d) of the Charter.
  • The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is a collective and as members of the collective, principals, vice-principals and, assistant principals would be exercising their Charter rights should they be required to participate in a lawful sanction action.
  • The provision of the allowance for the additional duties carried out by principals, vice-principals and assistant principals does not override the rights and responsibilities of school administrators as members of the collective. All members, including principals, vice-principals, and assistant principals will be required to comply with the direction that will be communicated in the event a sanction action is necessary.
  • It is the responsibility of the employer and not the principal to ensure the safety of the students in a school in the event of lawful sanction action. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide sufficient non-teacher supervisors to create a safe environment and not the responsibility of the principal to supervise non-teacher supervisors. That being said, the Federation will not ask principals, vice-principals or assistant principals to undertake an action that would compromise their position or the safety of their students.

 

Voting

In the event of a vote (sanctions or ratification), STF members will be provided with the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot.

Established voting procedures must be followed in order to demonstrate the vote was fair and met the democratic ideals of fairness, transparency, accountability and integrity.

The ballot requires a “yes” or “no” response. The wording on the sanction ballot reads:

I support the STF Executive and the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee in imposing sanctions which may include a full withdrawal of services in pursuit of a new provincial collective bargaining agreement that affirms the worth of teachers.”

The ballot is worded this way to ensure every member understands the full range of possible sanctions that could be imposed.

All SSLs will receive balloting materials in advance of any vote, which will include:

  • Eligible voter list for your school
  • Ballots
  • Ballot envelopes
  • Eligible Member Solemn Declarations forms
  • Casting Your Vote poster
  • Checklist – Vote Information for School Staff Liaisons
  • Prepaid return mail envelope for completed ballots addressed to the auditor

You will be responsible for informing STF members in your respective school and/or school division office of the voting procedures.

Upon receiving any voting package at your school you will:

  • Ensure you have the correct voter list for your school.
  • Count the ballots and ballot envelopes to ensure there are enough for the number of voters on the voter list.
  • Ensure that you have a number of additional ballots.
  • If you are missing any materials, please contact the STF immediately  (bargaininginfo@stf.sk.ca).

Prior to voting day you will:

  • Post the voting instructions in a highly visible area for members to see.
  • Clearly indicate on the poster the times and location where voting can occur.
  • Decide if you have the time to offer members an opportunity to vote in advance of the official vote dates. If you offer advance voting, be sure to share with members when and where advance polling will occur.

When a member shows up to vote, you will:

  • Direct the member to sign beside their name on the voter list.
  • Provide the member with a ballot and a ballot envelope.
  • If the member is not on the list, before providing a ballot, direct the individual to complete and sign an Eligible Member Solemn Declaration form.
  • Once the form is completed, provide the member with a ballot and ballot envelope.
  • Collect the sealed ballot envelopes and keep them secure until the end of the vote.

At the end of the last voting day, you are responsible for:

  • Collecting all materials including:
    • The voter list.
    • All sealed ballots.
    • All completed Eligible Member Solemn Declaration forms.
    • All extra ballots, ballot envelopes and Eligible Member Solemn Declaration forms.
  • Place all collected materials in the addressed, postage-paid envelope.
  • Seal the envelope.
  • Immediately drop the envelope in the mail.

STF members who are:

  • Employed under a continuing, temporary or replacement contract. This includes members in associate schools or division offices and local association presidents (on full-time release).
  • On any type of paid or unpaid leave and remain under contract at the time the vote is conducted.
  • Seconded to government, university or other agencies.
  • Substitute teaching on the day(s) the official vote is held.
  • Absent the day of the vote, who were replaced that day by a substitute STF member.
  • Teaching, as a member, outside the province.

Ineligible members include Federation members in historical high schools, other independent schools or regional colleges.* Currently, they are as follows:

  • Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, Wilcox
  • Cornwall Alternative School, Regina
  • Ellen Gunn (Ranch Ehrlo), Martensville
  • Hansen Education Centre (Ranch Ehrlo), Prince Albert
  • Luther College, Regina
  • Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute, Outlook
  • Rosthern Junior College, Rosthern
  • Schaller School (Ranch Ehrlo), Pilot Butte

*Note: Individuals in historical schools do not work for a board of education in accordance with the The Education Act, 1995.

Members can only vote at one location. If they vote at a location where they are not on the voter list, they will have to complete an Eligible Member Solemn Declaration form.

STF members are able to vote in advance. The school staff liaison determines if and when advance polling will occur. The school staff liaison will inform STF member colleagues when and where they can vote in advance, if advance polling is provided.

  • The official vote occurs on February 10 and 11.
  • If members know they will not be at school on those days, they can seek their school staff liaison and ask to vote in advance.
  • A member cannot vote by proxy so if they cannot be present, they will be unable to vote.

The Federation is responsible for providing members on leave with a ballot, ballot envelope and envelope to mail the ballot to the vote tabulator.

If a member on leave does not receive a ballot at home, they can go to the nearest school, complete the Eligible Member Solemn Declaration form and cast their ballot.

Eligible new members will need to complete an Eligible Member Solemn Declaration form in order to receive a ballot.

Contact the Federation directly at 306-373-1660 (in Saskatoon) or 1-800-667-7762. If you prefer to use email, send a note to bargaininginfo@stf.sk.ca.

 

Pension and Benefits

  • Service is credited to you for every day you work and contribute to the plan, and is used to determine your eligibility for – and the amount of – your pension.
  • If you lose teaching days, technically speaking, you shouldn’t be earning service. However, the STRP offers you some protection in the event of a sanction. This protection includes:

The Sanction Events Provision

  • For any new sanction event that occurs after 2014, STF members will receive pension credit to a maximum of 15 cumulative sanction days per plan year with no contributions required. This means that the first 15 days of any sanction event in a given plan year are automatically credited to you, and your pension and service are not affected.
  • Any sanction days over and above the 15-day maximum would not be automatically credited to you, but would be available for purchase.
  • This provision only applies to STF members on contract who lose salary because of a sanction event. Substitute STF members would not be eligible for this benefit.
  • Any lost service may affect your expected retirement date.
  • This could be significant if you were expecting to retire July 1 after 30 years of teaching.
  • If you were not credited with the lost pension days, you may not have the required eligibility years and may not be eligible to retire on July 1 as planned.
  • This would mean you may have to return to teach in the following school year to earn the missed service needed to be eligible to retire.

The STF Members’ Health Plan and Member and Family Assistance Program

  • Health benefits and MFAP coverage would continue through a sanction event.

STF Optional Life Insurance (Portaplan)

  • Participation in Portaplan is optional and the policyholder pays all premiums.
  • You would still need to pay premiums in order to maintain your coverage.

Teachers’ Long-Term Disability Plan

  • This plan is funded by member premiums.
  • These premiums are calculated as a percentage of salary actually paid to STF members and remitted to the Federation by your school board.
  • During sanction days, no salary is paid so LTD premiums are zero. However, disability coverage would not be suspended as a result.
  • STF members approved for STF LTD benefits at the time of a sanction would continue to receive those benefits.
  • STF members who are working with no sick leave or accumulated sick leave balance may also be approved for benefits on sanction days provided they meet the following conditions and follow the standard LTD application benefit process:
    • Sick leave and accumulated sick leave bank is at zero; and
    • STF sanction exemption has been granted to the STF member for the purpose of sick leave or medical leave.

Dental and Teachers’ Group Life Insurance Plans

  • Both of these plans are administered by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Superannuation Commission.
  • For more information, please visit the STSC’s website.
  • Members continue to be entitled to medical benefits, including prescription drug, health and vision care, long-term disability, optional life insurance (Portaplan), member and family assistance program, group life and dental as per eligibility requirements set out by each plan.
  • By virtue of being under contract with a school division, any benefits that one might be entitled to continue despite sanctions.
  • Pension service is credited automatically for the first 15 sanction days even though no contributions are paid. Any sanction days beyond that would be available for purchase.
  • You would be considered a member by virtue of holding a teaching contract.
  • All rules regarding pension and benefits would be applied as if sanctions had not occurred.
  • No sick leave would be accumulated during the withdrawal of professional services.
  • No sick leave would be accumulated during the term of a lockout.
  • Other sanctions would not impact sick leave accumulation.
  • Any accumulated sick leave that existed prior to the job action or lockout would remain intact following the action.
  • The requirement for insurable earnings prior to accessing a maternity or parental leave is a federal government policy.
  • Contact Service Canada for more information.
  • Sick leaves that began prior to the imposition of sanctions would continue as long as there was medical evidence to support the leave.
  • Should a member return from a board-approved sick leave in the midst of sanctions, they would be expected to participate in the action.
  • A member who is sick on a day on which sanctions are to be employed is considered to be sick and in compliance with the Code of Collective Interests.
  • A member who is sick on a day in which sanctions are to be employed should inform their school staff liaison.

 

Advocacy

STF members can support the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee in reaching the goal of achieving a tentative agreement that affirms the worth of STF members and is acceptable to STF members by:

  • Accessing the online resources regarding provincial collective bargaining for current and accurate information.
  • Directing their bargaining questions to bargaining@stf.sk.ca.
  • Staying informed by reading information shared on the STF app or by email.
  • Publicly supporting the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee and the STF Executive as it carries out its work on behalf of all STF members.

The Federation has launched a campaign called Tell Them Tuesday. Sign up at tellthemtuesday.com by entering your name, postal code and email.

  • You will receive followup emails from the campaign asking you to participate by emailing your MLA or posting on social media.
  • It is quick and simple. You can choose from pre-written message or write your own.
  • Tell Them Tuesday is open to the public. Please help spread the word. The more people supporting STF members’ voices and the more stories we tell, the louder and stronger our voice is to the provincial government.
  • Email advocacy@stf.sk.ca or call the Federation at 1-800-667-7762 with any questions or for assistance with this campaign.
  • It is vital to present a common message and a common face to the media. Members and local association leaders may feel free to make general supportive statements about the bargaining team and the process.
  • Members and local association leaders should not discuss specific actions or strategies and should not comment on any statements by government, trustees or other.
  • Remember that a statement made to the media can be used selectively or presented out of context.
  • Remember that no STF member is under any obligation to speak to the media, no matter how insistent and persistent they may be.
  • Simply refer their questions to the Federation.
  • The confidential nature of certain aspects of teacher collective bargaining is a consideration when using social network sites and personal technology.
  • All actions approved by the STF Executive will support our goal of reaching a negotiated collective agreement.
  • Work to ensure that your individual actions align with those approved by the STF Executive as you consider your advocacy on social media platforms.
  • It is critical that individual actions do not undermine the actions and efforts of the collective to reach an acceptable negotiated collective bargaining agreement.

 

Exemptions

  • No.
  • A written request for exemption will be adjudicated by the Federation based on principles that will be available in advance of notification of a sanction action.
  • The final decision regarding the granting of an exemption rests with the STF Executive Director.

 

Other

  • The decision to apply sanctions is not taken lightly, and the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee and STF Executive are acutely aware of the stress it puts on STF members in terms of balancing their personal and collective responsibilities.
  • It is important that within the collective, support is offered to each other as STF members navigate through these uncomfortable times.
  • With this in mind, STF members will strive to provide sufficient notice prior to the imposition of any sanctions. It is hoped this notification will provide STF members with sufficient time to make the necessary arrangements in terms of child care or other responsibilities.
  • When the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee receives an invitation to return to the table for negotiations, the decision to maintain or suspend sanctions will be made at that time and will be based on which action provides the greatest opportunity to successfully conclude a provincial collective bargaining agreement that would be acceptable to STF members.
  • Back-to-work legislation is a possibility that must be considered.
  • It is difficult to predict the actions that the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee might take or recommend and, for that reason, the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee is committed to conducting a thorough risk assessment of any options under consideration.
  • All options are carefully examined, and an exit strategy is mapped out prior to making any recommendations to the STF Executive.
  • Our response will be strategic, purposeful and calculated with the sole purpose of achieving a collective agreement at the forefront of all decisions moving forward.
  • There are no legal impediments or restrictions in terms of holding a rally or demonstration on the grounds of the legislative building in Regina as it is deemed public property; however, if on municipal or other property, then all actions must comply with local bylaws, provincial law and criminal law.
  • For instance, there would be no issues with holding a rally at the legislative building as long as it did not prevent people from accessing the building or carrying on their business.
  • However, if STF members blocked the sidewalk or prevented traffic from flowing, then the action would be in contravention of City of Regina bylaws and possibly provincial property laws.
  • This is slightly different from protesting at schools or school division offices, or even MLA offices. They are all considered private property and, as such, any action would be restricted to the public areas such as the sidewalk, and once again municipal bylaws and provincial property laws would be in effect and need to be complied with.
  • This is a question of strategy, and all options will be considered as plans for moving forward are developed.
  • Each and every action taken has the ability to apply pressure and bring us closer to an acceptable collective agreement, and poorly planned or executed strategies can detract from this goal.
  • Before undertaking any possible actions, the potential risks and potential benefits will be carefully considered, and an exit strategy will be determined.
  • Implications for local agreements will be given due consideration upon notification of sanctions being imposed. If conflicts arise, we will seek to remedy these at the negotiating table through the bargaining process or after the full scope of the impacts have been realized.
  • Individuals seeking an exemption will have to apply, in writing, to the STF Executive Director. The application form will be posted on the STF website following the notification of sanction action.
  • To maintain a unified, collective effort, exemptions will only be considered in extremely compelling circumstances. To ensure exemptions are only applied for in extremely compelling cases, we will provide guidelines of what does not qualify for an exemption and what may qualify for an exemption.

The process for filing a complaint against a member based on the Code of Conduct Respecting the Collective Interests of Teachers is identified in Part VII of The Teachers’ Federation Act, 2006, Section 37 paraphrased below:
(4) Subject to subsection (5), the executive may make a preliminary investigation into the facts regarding a complaint that a member is guilty of conduct contrary to the collective interests of teachers.
(5) If any three members of the federation make complaints, in writing, alleging that a member is guilty of conduct contrary to the collective interests of teachers, the executive shall make a preliminary investigation into the facts alleged.
(6) If the executive is of the opinion that further action on the complaint is warranted, the executive may refer the complaint to a committee established by the executive in accordance with the bylaws.
(7) The committee must:

  1. conduct a hearing;
  2. grant the member who is the subject of the hearing an opportunity to be heard; and
  3. report its finding to the executive and the member who is the subject of the hearing.

(8) If the committee finds that a member’s conduct is contrary to the collective interests of teachers, the executive, after giving the member an opportunity to be heard, may by order:

  1. reprimand the member;
  2. require the member to pay a fine to the federation; or
  3. reprimand the member and require the member to pay a fine to the federation.

(9) A fine levied pursuant to clause (8)(b) or (c) may not exceed the net earnings of the member during the period in which the member was engaged in conduct contrary to the collective interests of teachers.

  • Members are encouraged to respectfully confirm with their colleagues what they are saying.
  • Direct colleagues to the STF website and this FAQ document. We’ll be updating it regularly to ensure common questions are answered.
  • Suggest the colleague contact the Federation to confirm the validity of the statements they are making (bargaining@stf.sk.ca or call 1-800-667-7762).
  • No. We have not abandoned salary in pursuit of resolution on complexity. We did not bring the government’s offer of 0%, 2% and 2% to members for a vote because it is an insufficient offer.
  • It does not keep up with inflation and represents only half of what the STF Executive approved the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee to pursue (eight percent compared to four percent over three years).
  • Our goal remains to secure an agreement that addresses both of the top issues members asked us to address: salary and class size and composition.
  • No, the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee, in consultation with the STF Executive, will determine the timing, location and type of sanction.
  • Some members have experienced difficulty with their initial log-in.
  • Please call the Federation at 1-800-667-7762 and ask for login support. Our team will assist you and ensure you are set up on the STF app.
  • If you experience other difficulties, please reach out to login support as well. Your specific issue will be addressed, and we will gain important insights that can be used to further enhance and improve the app.
  • There are also step-by-step instructions available for installing the app on iOS and Android devices.