Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association president Jennifer Brooks presents at a public school board meeting.                                Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association president Jennifer Brooks presents at a public school board meeting. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

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Abbotsford teachers enter collective bargaining with district

Seven meetings scheduled between district and union, running April 30 to June 27

The Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association is expected to enter collective bargaining with the school district today.

The Abbotsford School District originally agreed to just three meeting dates, according to a union bulletin posted earlier this month. However, ADTA bargaining chair Doug Smuland recently wrote in a union bargaining update that he is “happy to report that the District has agreed to seven meeting dates” starting on April 30 and running until June 27.

Smuland wrote that he expects the first meeting will largely be to set bargaining objectives between the two parties.

The union, a local of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, held a general meeting earlier this month to vote on bargaining priorities.

“We are seeking improvements on a number of items which remain important to teachers and are hopeful that the District will see the wisdom of our arguments and agree wholeheartedly,” Smuland wrote.

The BCTF entered collective bargaining with the province in February, with one major bargaining chip being salary improvements.

According to an infographic posted to the BCTF Facebook page, just once province, Quebec, has a lower average minimum wage, while just Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have lower average maximum wages.

“BC needs to improve teachers’ salaries and offer other recruitment and retention initiatives to ensure our schools and classrooms are properly staffed to support all students,” Smuland wrote in his bargaining update.

The BCTF is also hoping to bargain for improved class size and composition standards for B.C. schools, something that could pose a challenge to school districts if extensive hiring is required to fill gaps.

According to Smuland’s update, there remained 300 unfilled teaching positions throughout the province, something union advocates say could be improved with higher wages to meet the high cost of living in B.C.

ADTA president Jennifer Brooks did not respond to The News’ request for comment.

Find more of our coverage on the Abbotsford School District here.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

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