Substitute teachers can now join Yukon union

A new deal between the teachers' union and the territorial government also includes pay raises and a commitment to prioritize hiring Yukon First Nations teachers.

New deal also includes pay raises and priority hiring for First Nations

The Yukon Teachers Association ratified a new three-year collective agreement with the territorial government on Monday. (CBC)

Substitute teachers in Yukon can now be represented by a union, after the Yukon Teachers Association ratified a new collective agreement with the government. 

The deal will see territorial legislation amended to allow substitutes to be included in the teachers association's bargaining unit.

The new three-year contract also includes a number of other provisions including salary increases for teachers, education assistants and tutors, and a commitment to prioritize hiring Yukon First Nations teachers.

"I'm thrilled that we came to an agreement that we both are happy with," said the association's president Sue Harding. "I think it's a good agreement."

Negotiations began last spring, just before the previous contract expired. The new collective agreement was ratified on Monday.

The deal covers approximately 900 teachers, education assistants, tutors and administrators across Yukon. 

Harding said money was a sticking point in negotiations.

"Money gets people's backs up a little bit. So yeah, that would have been the most difficult part of the agreement," she said.

The deal provides a 6.7 per cent salary increase over three years for teachers, and a 3.2 per cent increase for qualified education assistants and tutors. There will also be a five per cent increase in allowances for school staff in rural communities.

The deal provides a 6.7 per cent salary increase over three years for teachers, and a 3.2 per cent increase for qualified educational assistants and tutors. (CBC)

Harding said the agreement means Yukon will also be leading the way when it comes to hiring First Nations teachers. If a Yukon First Nation citizen is trained as a teacher and applies for a position in their home community, they will be given priority in hiring.

"So that gets people back into their communities, being role models for those that are coming up behind. And students get to see teachers that are reflective of their own culture, teaching them in their schools," Harding said.

"It's really a positive thing to have."

She's also pleased that substitute teachers can now be represented by the union. Some substitute teachers petitioned for representation, saying they had no way to fight for better wages and benefits.

"They had no protections when they came in and worked in our classrooms and in our schools. So now we can, like you say, have their back like all of the other teachers."

With files from George Maratos

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