Sask. teachers resoundingly reject province’s contract offer

Sask. teachers resoundingly reject province’s contract offer

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) members have voted to reject a contract offer after months of strife with the province. 

The STF confirmed the result Thursday evening, saying that 92.2 per cent of its members voted over the previous two days, with 90 per cent of them rejecting the province’s offer.

The STF said it has issued an invitation to the government’s bargaining committee to resume negotiations this coming Monday. The STF also said it would host a news conference Friday at 10:30 a.m. CST.

“The message to government and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association is crystal clear: their so-called ‘final offer’ is unacceptable and does a disservice to students and teachers,” said STF president Samantha Becotte in a release.

“We need a deal that guarantees the government’s full, unwavering commitment to the future of public schools beyond the election cycle. Anything less is untenable.

“We are nearing the end of a school year spent under the shadow of an intransigent government that seems to disregard the largest job sanctions ever undertaken by Saskatchewan teachers and ignore students’ needs. No more backroom deals and no more ‘final offers.'”

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation president responds to contract vote result

Samantha Becotte posted a message on social media after STF members voted overwhelmingly to reject a contract offer from the province.

Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill said he is disappointed in the result and called the offer fair, saying it reflected the best interests of students, teachers, parents and taxpayers.

“The best deal will be reached at the bargaining table, and both sides should immediately agree to return to the table and avoid any further sanctions that could jeopardize instructional time and important milestone events for Saskatchewan students,” Cockrill said in a statement.

Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck also weighed in on the vote results, saying they send a clear message to the Saskatchewan Party government.

“Teachers, parents and now even students know [Premier] Scott Moe doesn’t care about education and are ready to do something about it. Our next generation deserves better,” Beck said in a statement.

Leading up to the vote

The province’s three-year collective agreement offer featured a three per cent salary increase in the first and second years, with the first increase retroactive to September 2023, and then a two per cent increase in the third year.

The core issues the STF and province have butted heads over during negotiations are class size and complexity.

The contract included an article stating that an accountability framework — laid out as part of a memorandum of understanding to ensure provincial funding doled out to the Saskatchewan School Boards Association would benefit students — would be honoured.

The STF and the government have struggled to come to an agreement since negotiations began last May.

Saskatchewan’s 13,500 teachers have been without a contract since August 2023 and voted in favour of job action in October. Months of job action followed, including rotating strikes, work-to-rule action, and withdrawal from extracurricular activities and voluntary duties.

Once the deal was on the table, STF referred to it as a “final offer,” but the province called it a “tentative agreement.”

In a previous news release, the government’s bargaining committee called the contract offer “a fair and reasonable settlement that will benefit teachers, families and students.”

Ahead of the vote, Becotte said she was maintaining a neutral position, although she still critiqued the province’s bargaining committee and strategies. 

“They know what is best for themselves, what is best for their schools and what is best for their colleagues,” she said.

Prior to the vote, Premier Scott Moe alluded to potentially extending the school year if it was rejected.

He said school divisions would have to make difficult choices about extending the school year by days or even weeks.

A photo of Scott Moe at the legislature on April 16. He is wearing a black suit and white shirt.
Premier Scott Moe hinted earlier this week that the school year might be extended if teachers rejected the contract offer. (CBC)

Becotte retorted that there’s been more time lost to snow days than job sanctions.

“It’s disappointing that they are really overstepping their role and trying to influence the vote,” she said.

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