The NWT Teachers’ Association (NWTTA) and territorial government began negotiations toward a new collective agreement on Tuesday.
The agreement will impact approximately 450 members who work for the South Slave, Dehcho, Beaufort Delta, and Sahtu Divisional Education Councils, as well as for the Commission scolaire francophone de division and Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency.
The first round of negotiations for the new agreement was scheduled to run from Tuesday until Friday.
The Government of the Northwest Territories’ current agreement with the NWTTA expires on July 31, 2020, but will remain in force until a new agreement is reached.
NWTTA president Fraser Oliver said the territory and teachers’ union had agreed to a media blackout, preventing the disclosure of details from the negotiations.
However, in September 2019, Fraser told NNSL two key issues had emerged since the last collective agreements were negotiated in 2016: violence in the classroom and teacher retention.
“[Violence in the classroom] is a new phenomenon and it is increasing, absolutely. There are more students coming in younger grades with mental health issues and parents don’t know what to do about it either,” he told the newspaper.
Teachers were invited to submit feedback and concerns through an NWTTA survey last fall.
In a September 2019 newsletter distributed to all 800 educators represented by the NWTTA, Oliver noted the current collective agreement had given teachers no raise in the first two years and a one-percent raise in the final two years.
The current collective agreement also ushered in the Strengthening Teachers’ Instructional Practices (Stip) initiative, which redirected 100 hours of instructional time to personal planning time for teachers.
Teacher workload was a key issue in the 2016 negotiations, reported the CBC at the time.
Negotiations for the separate YK1 and Yellowknife Catholic Schools collective agreements will take place in the fall, Oliver said. Those two agreements expire on August 31.
Oliver’s term as president expires this June, according to NNSL.