Saskatchewan teachers reject tentative agreement with 55 per cent of voters opposing

Daily Herald File Photo STF President Samantha Becotte

Saskatchewan teachers have rejected a tentative Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement by a narrow majority following two days of days of voting.

Roughly 88 per cent of Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation members cast a ballot, with 55 per cent opposing the agreement.

STF President Samantha Becotte said the executive was willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to get a deal done. She also said the rejection should serve as a message to the government as the Saskatchewan School Boards Association.

“In feedback from members, we heard clearly that their priorities haven’t been adequately addressed,” Becotte said in a press release. “In the days leading up to this vote, I stressed that the fight for public education will continue and our members will determine which forum that battle will take place in.”

This is the second agreement teachers have rejected. The last vote took place on May 8-9, with 90 per cent of voters rejecting the offer.

The second agreement was the result of five days of formal and informal negotiations. Both sides announced a tentative agreement on May 17.

That agreement included an additional $18 million per year in funding to help classroom complexity, among other items.

Despite the setback, Becotte was optimistic negotiations could resume shortly.

“I appreciate the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee’s willingness to bargain in good faith during the meetings that led us to the tentative deal,” she said. “I expect that these productive negotiations will continue, and we can return to the table to chart a path towards an agreement that will meet the needs of Saskatchewan’s students and teachers without further interruptions to the school year.”

According to an STF press release, the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee has extended a verbal invitation to the Government to resume bargaining, with a formal, written invitation scheduled for Friday.

Becotte is expected to speak to the media Friday morning.

Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill released a short statement on Friday expressing disappointment with the news.

“I am disappointed by the result of the vote that will reject not only a fair agreement negotiated between government, school divisions, and the STF,” the statement reads, “but also one that was endorsed and recommended by the STF executive senior leadership. We will have more to say about next steps very soon.”