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Here's a look at the tentative deal on the table for Sask. teachers

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The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) revealed details of the latest offer from the province on Thursday, following two days of virtual town halls between the federation and its members.

The tentative agreement would cover a three-year term, from Sept. 1, 2023 to Aug. 31, 2026.

STF president Samantha Becotte told CTV News the agreement shows progress on the majority of proposals that teachers have brought forth.

“There’s improvements addressing teachers’ compensation, there’s improvements in articles, items in there addressing classroom complexity and violence in the classroom, as well as several other items that teachers have brought forward,” she said.

The details of the proposed agreement include:

  • An accountability framework that would be signed by the STF, government and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) and attached to the agreement as a Memorandum of Understanding
  • An additional $18 million per year to tackle classroom complexity, which will be added to the multi-year funding agreement that was signed by the SSBA and the government
  • Creation of a minister’s task force on classroom complexity, comprised of teachers, students, and parents. A final report would be presented to the Minister of Education, which will ensure input from teachers and students
  • A policy table on violence-free classrooms chaired by the Ministry of Education, and including representatives from the STF and SSBA
  • Salary increases of three per cent in 2023, three per cent in 2024, and two per cent in 2025

Becotte said while it wasn’t the exact proposal teachers put forth, there has been action and improvement made by the province.

“That’s how bargaining works. There’s always a back and forth and we meet somewhere in the middle,” she said.

Last Friday, the province and the STF announced that they reached a tentative agreement, nearly one year after initial bargaining began.

The virtual town halls were held Tuesday and Wednesday night to give teachers a chance to review the details of the agreement before making them public.

Following the town halls, Becotte says she’s fielded questions from teachers about what the deal will look like if it is accepted, and how they will be impacted individually.

“Teachers are being very critical about what is there and what isn’t there,” she said.

“In any agreement, there’s a give and a take and some teachers are expressing concern that there might not be enough there to address classroom complexity,” she said.

Last week, the teachers’ bargaining committee and the STF endorsed and recommended the tentative agreement. Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill had thanked the STF executive for their endorsement on Friday.

On Thursday, Cockrill reiterated last week’s statement, and said the agreement would support classrooms in the province and provide predictability for teachers and families.

“I want to thank parents, teachers, and students for their patience during this process. I am hopeful that the agreement will be finalized,” the statement read.

Saskatchewan teachers will vote on the tentative agreement on May 29 and 30.

Charles Smith, associate professor of political studies at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), said he thinks the proposed deal between teachers and the province is “perplexing.”

“For six months, the teachers’ union and teachers themselves have been pretty clear that the key issues were class size and complexity and that they were sort of determined to see language of that sort in their contract,” he said.

“What we don’t see today is that goal being met.”

Smith said he thinks the key question is why the teachers union and the bargaining committee decided to reject the contract a few weeks ago then quickly endorsed the new contract that “doesn’t look radically different than the one that was just rejected.”

“It’s not clear what happened behind closed doors and what the strategy is going forward,” he said.

“From listening to teachers that have contacted me and on social media and various news outlets, there seems to be a lot of confusion.”

Smith said he thinks there are questions surrounding the proposed deal which need to be resolved to understand the full process.

“It’s a bit of a gamble on that front, if the membership were to reject this offer … would the union have lost some legitimacy at the bargain table? Not necessarily,” he said.

“The teachers’ bargaining committee might feel this is the best they could have gotten and hope that the membership will agree.”

Smith said since the provincial election is only months away, the government is likely feeling the pressure to get the deal settled before then.

“There’s no question, I think, from the government’s perspective, there was an impetus to get this settled,” he said.

Saskatchewan teachers’ last contract expired in August of 2023 — three months after bargaining began.

Impasses were declared in October and February by the STF, with job action by teachers beginning at the start of 2024.

Teachers rejected an initial offer from the province on May 9, with 90 per cent voting against, and more than 92 per cent of members voting.

-With files from Drew Postey and Donovan Maess 

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