The Yukon government is very happy with its new contract with teachers, awarded by arbitrator Beth Bilson on Monday.
“We’re pleased that we have an agreement so that we can move forward for the next year,” said Public Service Commissioner Patricia Daws.
The Yukon Teachers’ Association is less thrilled, missing out on a number of the requests and not getting as much of a pay raise as they had hoped for.
The teachers’ association went into negotiations looking for a two-year contract, an across-the-board increase of $2,000 and yearly wage increases of 4.5 per cent.
“We were trying to keep pace with our northern counterparts,” said YTA president Katherine Mackwood.
“That’s just to bring us up to their standard of salary. Years ago, we were the leader in salaries. We’ve now become third and the gap continues to widen.”
The government originally offered no pay raise whatsoever, said Mackwood, and later raised that to 1.2 per cent.
The arbitrator decided to copy the wage rates that had been recently awarded to the Yukon Employees’ Union.
That means an increase in wages by two per cent, 2.25 per cent and 2.25 per cent in each of the three years of the contract.
Similar adjustments will be made to the additional allowances of principals and vice-principals.
This year’s two per cent increase will be paid out to teachers retroactively back to July 1, 2009.
The government has 90 days to pay this money, and it will likely be paid in September.
The main concern for teachers is an article on class composition, said Mackwood.
“It was a primary issue for our members that we have to get something solid for class composition because it affects the education of all Yukon students,” she said.
“Unfortunately, Ms. Bilson felt that it was out of the arbitrator’s jurisdiction.”
The teachers were looking for accommodation to deal with students with individual education plans through more educational assistants, tutors, or smaller class sizes.
Right now, class composition is left up to school administration, but administration is bound by the government’s staffing allocations.
The new staffing allocation formula did not have any effect on negotiations, said Mackwood.
“We should not be negotiating for appropriate education for our students,” she said.
“That should be a foregone conclusion.”
The arbitrator also made new rules surrounding health and safety – implementing a new system for tracking violent students in order to better protect teachers and students.
And a $50,000 increase was made to the teachers’ association’s professional development fund, bringing it up to $412,000 each year.
The new contract is expected to cost the government an additional $4 million in wages and associated benefits over the three-year life of the contract.
A category V teacher with 10 years’ service will earn $97,845 annually by the end of the contract.
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