While the BC Teacher’s Federation and the BC Public School Employers’ Association collective bargaining on March 1, the board of the Prince Rupert School District held their own meeting with the Prince Rupert and District Teacher’s Union to get the ball rolling on local negotiations.
The two groups met on Monday for what board chair Lynn Hauptman said was to determine the protocol and schedule of meetings.
“We look forward to a constructive round of bargaining, focused on those matters which are designated in the provincial collective agreement as local matters,” said Hauptman, with most items falling outside of salary, benefits, hours and paid leave being considered local issues.
“We will also watch, with interest, how bargaining progresses at the Provincial bargaining table for the provincial matters.”
The two groups will meet again on March 17, but a statement from the BCTF on this round of collective bargaining indicates there is a lot of ground to be covered.
“Teacher salaries in BC continue to lag further behind most other provinces. In Vancouver, the city with the highest cost of living in Canada, we are $9,981 behind our colleagues in Toronto [for teachers with five years of education at the highest level of pay]. Closer to home the situation is even worse. We are currently $11,311 behind our colleagues in Calgary and $11,580 behind teachers in Edmonton. In addition teachers in elementary schools in Toronto get 220 (increasing to 240 in 2012) minutes of prep time per week…Other occupations traditionally compared with teachers are also outpacing us. Police, firefighters, and nurses have higher starting and maximum salaries than our category five in Vancouver,” read the statement, also alluding to the number of legislatively imposed agreements in recent years.
“Teachers will not accept another legislated collective agreement. We want a fair deal at the bargaining table.”