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This article was published 25/2/2016 (2281 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The four lowest-paid teachers’ bargaining units in Manitoba are among the final holdouts as the public education system locks in four-year deals before the provincial election.
So far, 30 teachers’ associations and school boards have deals or tentative agreements awaiting ratification for identical financial terms.
The school divisions say they won’t bargain through the media, but the Manitoba Teachers’ Society acknowledged the autonomous bargaining units may be trying to make up ground.
"It could very well be they want more money than other divisions," MTS president Norm Gould said in an interview. "I don’t know exactly what the circumstances are — it’s autonomous bargaining."
While the local unions have been taking identical percentage increases in this round of contracts and had done so in the deals that expired June 30, 2015, Gould pointed out each bargaining unit independently seeks improvements in working conditions that matter to its members, such as preparation time or personal days off.
Seven school divisions have yet to strike a deal. Among them are the four lowest-paid: Swan Valley, Turtle River, Western and Beautiful Plains.
None of the divisions would comment on what’s on the table from either side.
"For whatever reason, our negotiation process was delayed until just recently. We are currently working through the process with our teachers," said Swan Valley school board chairman Bill Schaffer.
"Out of respect for the process, we are not able to comment on teacher bargaining at this time," Western superintendent Stephen Ross said from Morden.
Beautiful Plains superintendent Jason Young said from Neepawa the division and teachers are close to an agreement that could become public next month.
"We have an agreement in committee that requires membership ratification by both parties. We will not speak until both parties have ratified. (It) should be ratified second week of March," Young said by email.
McCreary-based Turtle River has not responded to Free Press interview requests for several years.
So far, 30 divisions have settled for two per cent wage increases taking effect in September of 2015, 2016 and 2017. And 27 of those divisions have agreed on a fourth year, calling for a 1.5 per cent raise Jan. 1, 2018, and another 1.5 per cent June 30, 2018, for an overall compounded increase of 9.03 per cent.
— Nick Martin