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Teachers, province reach one-year deal

Gail Chaddock-Costello - Langley Times file photo
Gail Chaddock-Costello
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

After a highly combative year of what seemed to be go-nowhere bargaining, the B.C. Teacher’s Federation signed a tentative agreement with the government on Tuesday.

Now Langley Teachers Association president Gail Chaddock-Costello is scrambling to book the Coast Hotel for Thursday (today) so local teachers can vote on whether they accept the agreement.

“Hopefully, we will have teachers voting on Thursday. We have to get their ballots to the BCTF by Friday,” she said. The BCTF executive is recommending teachers vote in favour of the temporary contract.

Chaddock-Costello said she is “pleased for teachers,” but is happy this contract ends June 30, 2013.

“The government hasn’t succeeded in destroying our union and we are stronger than ever,” she said. “We can fight another day.”

Chaddock-Costello said the B.C. Liberals have tried and failed to strip their contract.

“Absolutely no other public sector has been attacked like this. We do feel we have been vilified by the government,” she said.

The new agreement does improve benefits like dental coverage for teachers in Langley, something that hasn’t been increased locally in 20 years, said Chaddock-Costello. It also provides teachers with better leave provisions.

The agreement kept within the government’s net zero wage increase, which the BCTF said it will be hammering away at again next June.

It also doesn’t deal with class size and composition, something the government took away, replacing class size limits with teacher compensation.

Despite increased job action that included no extracurricular activities, it appears graduation ceremonies and grad events went on without issue, with many parents stepping up where some teachers would not in Langley.

Some sporting events were cancelled  when teachers stopped coaching as part of job action.

But for the most part, parents stepped up in place of them and events continued. Some plays were cancelled in Langley because of the teachers’ strike.

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