Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Employers' association updates teacher compensation proposal

BC Public School Employers' Association spokesperson Peter Cameron held a press briefing today in an effort to explain what he said is "enormously complicated" teacher compensation proposals from both sides.

One major point of contention between the employers' association and the teachers' union is the actual cost of teacher wage proposals. The BC Teachers' Federation has proposed a 13.5 per cent wage increase over three years, in addition to increasing teacher preparation time, improving health and dental benefits, paying teachers on-call the equivalent of full-time teachers, putting more money into professional development, and cutting the current 10-tiered salary grid for teachers down to eight tiers.

Since March, the union has reduced its wage proposal by 0.25 per cent to to 0.75 per cent cost of living increase retroactive to January 2014, instead of the one per cent it originally requested, bringing the increase based on wages alone to 13.25 per cent.

Cameron said once you add in wage increase benefits, the increase the union is asking for is actually 19.2 per cent or $576,180,000 in* 2015/16 alone. That's three to five times higher than any of the wage increases accepted by the BC Government Employees Union, the Health Services Union, or the post-secondary education union. For a complete breakdown, see the documents provided by the employers' association below.

"We say, 'Would it be fair to all the 70,000 taxpayers who have settled for that pattern to say here's something that's clearly different for the [teachers union]?' From our perspective, fairness includes a look across the public sector for some kind of equity in terms of increases," said Cameron.

In contrast, the employers' association is now offering teachers a 1** per cent increase upon ratification, as well as another 0.75 per cent if other savings are found within the collective agreement. There will be another 5.5 per cent wage increase spread out over the following five years, totalling 7.25 per cent over the first six years of the contract, one per cent higher than the employers' previous wage proposals.

The ratification wage increases are not retroactive to the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year, however, and the increase government is offering for this school year is zero.

Costing out how much teachers make in the province is even more complicated, said Cameron, because the salary grids are not the same province-wide.

"The provincial agreement still contains, for example, different wage grids varying by district, arising for historic reasons," Cameron said. "It's complicated business and it is possible for people sincerely attempting to do a costing to arrive at different results."

Cameron told media the employers' association has attempted to revise a working group to look at a province-wide costing approach, and a employer and union working group was formed early in 2014. But Cameron says although work was done, the association considers its job unfinished. The union, however, has "refused" to continue meeting with the working group.

Other changes made to the employers' proposals [see documents below] include paying teachers on call according to the salary grid from the first day of teaching, as opposed to the current model where teachers on call are paid a lower daily rate until the fourth day on the job; granting one-year teaching experience for teachers on call who work 180 full-time equivalent days, entitling them to an increase in pay; and requiring the union to reimburse the employer for benefit costs paid to a working teacher on call.

The union has changed its teacher on call proposal requesting teachers receive one-year experience after 170 full-time equivalent workdays.

The two sides remain far apart on class size and composition. The employers' association still rejects the teachers' request to return to the 2001 formula for determining the size of classes and the number of students with special needs and English language learner designation per class.

Cameron said the improvement in education outcomes for aboriginal and special needs students in the province since 2001 show the Learning Improvement Fund model that provides funding for districts to hire more teachers and education assistants, provide more professional development, or increase teaching time to address higher than average class sizes has worked.

"We see the union wanting to go back to that [formula]; it's an approach that from their perspective is a good approach because it derives expenditures from government and revenue from school districts. But it's not revenue that's used to good outcomes in terms of students," he said.

The Learning Improvement Fund, which provides $165 million in funding over three years followed by $75 million annually in subsequent years, wasn't implemented until the 2012/13 school year.

The union said Pesident Jim Iker will respond to Cameron's press briefing with his own at 2 p.m. The teachers have been engaged in an administrative strike since Wednesday, continuing duties as normal within the classroom but refusing to meet with school administrators, send or receive written or electronic communication with them, or supervise students outside of class time.

*Article corrected at 12:42 p.m. Previously reported the $576,180,000 cost would accrue by 2015/16. *Correction from 1.75 per cent made at 2 p.m.

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee Solutions Society.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus