Public Sector Bargaining Opens Up

Members of Beautiful Plains Teachers Association (BPTA), in a unanimous vote, ratified a new collective agreement, breaking free from the shackles placed on public sector bargaining by Bill 28 – The Public Services Sustainability Act (PSSA).

“The Beautiful Plains agreement throws open the doors to collective bargaining between teachers and school boards, again,” says James Bedford, MTS president. “And it’s a turning point for collective agreements across the province.”

Although the PSSA was never proclaimed, its effects were felt across the public sector, with most employers following the government’s direction to freeze wages for the first two years in new agreements.

The BPTA agreement marks the first agreement reached in the province’s public sector, after the PSSA was passed, with significant wage increases.

The two-year agreement, expiring on June 30, 2020 includes a 1.6 per cent salary increase for the year 2018/19 and a 1.4 per cent increase for the year 2019/20. Upon completion of payment for the 2019/20 year (June 30, 2020), all steps on grid will increased by $500.00.

The agreement also gives substitutes a three per cent increase at signing.

“What’s most gratifying is this agreement comes on the heels of the government’s recent attempt to limit bargaining by demanding divisions first get permission from the Public Sector Compensation Committee of Cabinet,” says Bedford.

“The Beautiful Plains agreement reinforces what we’ve known for decades. Free and unrestricted collective bargaining works for both teachers and their employers.”

Bedford says this agreement, along with recent arbitration rulings in Pembina Trails and Louis Riel, means there is no reason for school divisions not to come to the bargaining table.