In the collective agreement renewal negotiations, the FSE-CSQ and QPAT finally obtained a sectorial settlement proposal from the Treasury Board. After a meeting of the Conseil federal (the political body of the FSE), the FSE-CSQ and QPAT have decided to “lift the veil” imposed by the employer party and submit the proposed settlement to the teachers, via general assemblies. In the circumstances, this cannot be described as an agreement in principle, because in spite of some interesting gains, we do not feel we have achieved all the goals you set at the beginning of the negotiations. Since it is your daily lives that are at stake, it is up to you, and you alone, to decide whether or not you are satisfied with the outcome.
Below is a brief history of the negotiations, along with the main elements of the settlement proposal. A more complete presentation will of course be made at your local general assemblies.
Main steps in the negotiation process
- The union filed its demands on October 18, 2019, the employer filed its response on December 17, 2019, and the “traditional” negotiation began in January 2020;
- On March 13, 2020, the whole of Québec was placed “on pause” because of the pandemic. At the time, the Government asked us to continue the negotiations despite the health crisis affecting the province;
- At the end of June 2020, the FSE-CSQ and QPAT requested mediation with a view to obtaining a strike mandate;
- The negotiations dragged on throughout the fall, with an even more insulting offer by the employer in October. In December and January, the FSE-CSQ and QPAT, like the other CSQ unions, consulted their members to obtain strike mandates;
- The day after the strike mandates were announced, on February 2, 2021, the CSQ and the FSE-CSQ were invited by the Treasury Board president to sit at a new “restricted” table for an intensified “exploratory” negotiation, which was to be kept “under wraps”;
- On April 1, 2021, the FSE-CSQ and QPAT announced the first strike day. The negotiations intensified as a result;
- On April 14, 2021, an historical first-ever short-duration “innovative” strike was carried out by the FSE-CSQ and QPAT;
- After the FSE-CSQ and QPAT received a settlement proposal considered insufficient by the Conseil federal, the discussions resumed at the negotiating table and led to the submission of a new, improved proposal on April 21, 2021;
- On April 23, 2021, the FSE-CSQ Conseil fédéral and QPAT decided to submit the sectorial settlement proposal to the members’ general assemblies, for a decision.
- On May 17, all the FSE-CSQ and QPAT unions will report on their general assemblies to the Conseil fédéral.
Main elements of the proposed sectorial settlement
The FSE-CSQ and QPAT have constantly demanded significant improvements in their four main priority areas, namely class composition and services for students with special needs, a significantly lighter workload, remuneration for all teachers, and precarity and professional insertion. The information given below is by no means exhaustive, and more details will be provided for each priority area at the general assemblies.
Specific remuneration for teachers
- On the 141st day of the 2019-2020 school year: increase of the first six salary steps and a 1.5% increase of the last step (retroactive);
- On the 141st day of the 2021-2022 school year: increase of 3.46% for the last step (combined increase of 5% for the last step);
- On March 31, 2023, merging of steps 3 and 4, i.e. removal of one step from the salary scale. Step advancements will take place on this date instead of on July 1.
*Attention: Note that the salary increases to be given to all public service employees will be added to these amounts. The general increases are still being negotiated in the public sector, including by the CSQ, which represents us and is continuing with mobilization. For the time being, they are proposing a minimum increase over three years of 1.75%, 1.75% and 1.5%, plus a possible increase of up to 1% based on inflation and economic growth, and two lump sum amounts. At the end of the negotiations, teachers in Québec will have a single salary scale.
Class composition and services for students with special needs
- One student less per group for kindergarten (4 and 5 year-old) classes in disadvantaged communities;
- Addition of 225 special classes throughout the network (75 per year for each of the next three years);
- For the FSE-CSQ and QPAT, creation of roughly 300 new regular groups in elementary schools, in communities not classified as disadvantaged, to reduce the pressure caused by the high number of students with individualized education plans;
- For multigrade classes, a guaranteed amount of $675 per year to use from the beginning of the school year, in particular for releases (equivalent of two to three days per homeroom teacher).
- At preschool level, a half-hour reduction of learning and preparation activities, but no change to the length of the workload;
- In elementary schools, most supervision time entrusted to other job categories, among other things by replacing this time with pedagogical remediation;
- Guarantee of full autonomy for teachers to decide on the use of at least 10% of professional development days;
- Additional release of one day per year in Grade 6 and half a day in Grade 4, to correct ministerial examinations; this is in addition to the releases already provided for in the budgetary rules;
- For adult education, addition of the equivalent of two professional development days (increase to 32 hours and consideration of pedagogical follow-up when preparing the workload).
Note that the employer has stepped back its demand to decompartmentalize the workload. The workload will be annualized in future, but work of a personal nature will still be protected. Mandatory presence at school will be reduced from 32 hours per week to an average of 30 hours per week.
Precarity and professional insertion
- Mentorships: Instead of the “Master” teachers the employer wanted, a workload release for nearly 1,000 mentor teachers (FSE-CSQ and QPAT), with possible occasional releases from courses and lessons for the teachers being mentored, in addition to complementary workload releases;
- In vocational training, addition of recognized time in the complementary workload to take Bachelor’s degree courses and hence encourage teachers to obtain legal qualifications;
- In vocational training and adult education, reduction of the number of hours formerly required to trigger a part-time contract (144 hours in vocational training and 200 hours in adult education).
- Possibility of using six sick days for personal reasons, with 24-hour prior notice, to foster work-family reconciliation;
- Depending on the teacher’s individual situation, possibility of attaching death leave to the death itself or to the funeral that follows.
Clearly, the sectorial settlement proposal is too long to present in its entirety in this document. There is still a lot to say and to explain, and your local union will present the proposal in detail. QPAT recommends that it be adopted. It is therefore up to you to decide whether this proposal constitutes a sectorial settlement, bearing in mind that the negotiations are continuing for the intersectorial portion (salaries, retirement, parental rights and regional disparities), for which mobilization is ongoing. If you have not yet been contacted, you will receive an invitation shortly to submit your opinion at a virtual assembly, using the method decided by your union. This Info-Nego will help with the process of reflection.
WE’RE MOVING FORWARD, BUT WE’RE NOT THERE YET
In February 2021, the FSE-CSQ and QPAT began negotiating at a brand new table, with a limited number of representatives. The aim of this was to speed up the talks and facilitate exploratory discussions, which we were asked to “keep under wraps”. Since we are still at this phase of the negotiations, we must abide by the instructions we have received, meaning that we cannot tell you about the content of the discussions. We are sorry about this.
However, we can tell you that considerable progress was made at the negotiating table after we announced, in February, that we had obtained a strike mandate, and especially so since April 1, when we announced the first short-term strike for the morning of April 14. Thank you!
You can be proud not only of the mobilization, but also of its innovative nature, which has clearly helped to increase the pressure on the employer. Your impressive participation and tireless determination has pushed the process forward and brought us closer to achieving our aims, although there is still some way to go.
Since the beginning, the FSE-CSQ and QPAT have asked for significant improvements to the following four major priority areas:
Although the discussions are centred on some interesting elements, many of which were introduced by the FSE-CSQ and QPAT, our position remains unchanged: although others may have accepted proposals based on their own goals and mandates, the employer’s proposals currently on the table do not improve the everyday lives of teachers sufficiently to form a basis for an agreement in principle that would address your needs and your legitimate expectations with respect to the priorities that have been maintained since negotiations began. In other words, there are still some complicated issues to be resolved, in particular with respect to the workload, and we intend to continue with the pressure and with the negotiations until they can be resolved.
It was for this reason that a second short-term strike notice was issued on the evening of April 15. This time, the strike will be held on the afternoon of April 27. At the end of this second strike, we will have exercised the equivalent of just one half-day of the five strike days for which you voted at the assemblies.
We are convinced that by maintaining the pressure, thanks to your commitment to the cause, we will be able to improve the working conditions of teachers. It is especially important not to relax now, as the finish line draws closer. Your support and energy will help us to continue to move forward!