After claiming they were shorted a day’s pay in September, local teachers have now persuaded the Okanagan Skaha School District to settle up.
“They’re pleased. I think it goes a long way way to building that relationship again in coming to that agreement,” said Leslea Woodward, president of the Okanagan Skaha Teachers’ Union.
“It was hard for our members to see teachers in other locals being paid for that day and not be.”
She said the district has agreed to pay teachers based on a ratio of days worked in that month that will give them an extra 0.6 days’ pay, worth about $230 to a teacher with a bachelor’s degree at the top of the pay scale.
Teachers’ salaries are divided into 10 monthly instalments that roughly equal 20 days’ pay, although in some months they work more than 20 days and in others they work less, but it balances out over the year.
September should have consisted of 21 working days for which teachers would have received 20 days’ pay, but due to the strike they had 13 days deducted from their 20-day salary, leaving them seven days’ pay.
However, teachers actually worked eight days that month, including one day of classroom preparation before students returned.
Most school districts around B.C. compensated teachers for that preparatory day as a gesture of goodwill after the strike, but Okanagan Skaha didn’t and insisted its educators were paid according to the terms of their collective agreement.
Woodward agreed the contract was followed, but argued teachers should have been paid based on a different clause in the deal that pertains specifically to partial months of work.
“That’s what I took to them in our grievance, and we came to an agreement from that,” she said.
“It’s all complicated, but that’s how it works.”
School board chairman Bruce Johnson said trustees stood by district administrators’ original interpretation of the collective agreement, but were happy to explore the union’s alternate view.
“Some people get all hung up on changing a decision sometimes, but for me, as long as you get a proper resolution and it’s fair and you can follow the rules, I have no problem taking a second look at something and changing a decision,” he said.
“And if it helps our teachers, our board is all for it, because it’s been a tough six months, especially for our teachers.”
Johnson said the additional pay will be drawn from savings the district realized during the strike, but the rest of that money had to be returned to the Ministry of Education.