Salary grids ensure pay increases for teachers despite net zero

BCTF president Susan Lambert and fellow union members (photo: Black Press)

Jock Finlayson’s analysis published in the Vancouver Sun last month, Teachers Waging a Disingenuous War, was timely and helped taxpayers understand the real story behind the current labour conflict between the teachers union and the BC government. In his column Finlayson surmises:

…that teachers in this province are compensated at a level that aligns quite well with what employed British Columbians in general earn, when looked at in a Canadian context.

He goes on to conclude:

From the perspective of B.C. taxpayers, it makes no sense to increase compensation for all 41,000 teachers in the K-12 system because of supply-demand imbalances affecting a relatively small proportion of the entire occupation.

When it comes to trends in compensation, it's hard to make a case that B.C. teachers have been shortchanged. For the period 2006-11, the minimum pay boost for BCTF members was 14 per cent, while the maximum percentage increase was about 21 per cent. These pay hikes either match or exceed those garnered by most private sector workers in the province.

Another aspect of this – as Finlayson describes the BCTF's campaign – “disingenuous war” is that it ignores the complexities of the teacher salary grid as well as how the previously negotiated salary increases affect the grid. The union claims that teachers receive no salary increases, and parents – affected by no report cards and the upcoming strike action – of course don't know otherwise.

So what do the BC teachers salary grids look like?

Teacher salary grids provide automatic salary increases for increased education and for each year of teaching experience to a maximum of 10 years. Recall, a teaching year is a 10 month year, not a 12 month year. Also, unlike many professions, teachers are not required by their professional regulatory board to maintain currency in knowledge and practice.

Here's some understanding of how it works for BC's teachers:

  • The amount of education a teacher brings to teaching is indicated by 4 education levels in the grid – Levels 4, 5, 5+ and 6.
  • In BC, Level 5 is the typical entry level for a majority of teachers with a baccalaureate degree (4 years) and 1 year of teacher education.
  • Level 5+ recognizes additional education which does not result in an advanced degree.
  • Level 6 recognizes completion of a graduate degree or degrees.

In 2011 in Vancouver the starting salary at level 5 was $48,083. The starting salary at Level 6 for a teacher with a graduate degree was $52,823 – about a 10% difference for a completed graduate degree.

The salary grid  also provides automatic salary increases year over year for accumulated teaching experience to a maximum of 10 years. These are referred to as "Steps" in the grid. Steps begin at 0 and end at 10 years. So a teacher starting last September would see the following increases to their pay over 10 years of teaching:

  • Based on the 2010-2011 salary grid in Vancouver a beginning teacher at Level 5 Step 0 would earn $48, 083.
  • By 2021 this same teacher would have received automatic salary increases that average about 4.5% per year.
  • In 10 years his or her salary would have increased by about 55% to $74,353.

In addition to increases for years of experience, negotiated salary increases also affect the salary grid.

In the last round of negotiations there was a negotiated increase that changed the grid each year from July 2006 to July 2010. For the beginning teacher at Level 5, step 0 of the 2010-11 grid the starting salary was $ 48,083, not $43,775 as it was in 2006. This means the beginning teacher starting a career in Vancouver in 2010 began with a salary 9.8% higher than a colleague who started in 2006.

What happens to the salary of the colleague who started in 2006 at $43,775?

  • In 2010-2011, his or her salary is at Level 5 but it is now at Step 4 of a grid that reflects the negotiated salary increases. He or she benefits from these negotiated increases to the grid.
  • In the 2010-11 grid, Level 5/Step 4 is $57,725 not $52,552 as projected in 2006 salary grid – a 9.8% increase.
  • Further, the projected maximum for this colleague at step 10 is now $74,353 not $65,719 or 13% more than was projected in the 2006 salary grid.

While the number of "Steps" and "Levels" can be a little confusing, the public should understand that our teachers are not only being compensated fairly, but that for the first 10 years of their careers they also will receive annual increases regardless of the government's net zero mandate – just for showing up to teach.

Parents already struggling under the downloaded costs of additional daycare costs for expanded vacation breaks and professional development days should breathe easy. Teachers are being compensated fairly despite protests to the contrary by their union.

+ + +

In a further post we'll discuss the teacher's pension and other benefits. For a timeline of past BCTF teachers strikes see this link courtesy of GlobalTV BC.

– post by Carol Gibson

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  • Eli

    Carol, you’re wrong about teachers not being required, by a regulatory board, to stay current in knowledge and practice.

    The ministry and the school boards are currently the regulatory bodies and teachers are required to undergo observations and assessment by their principal as often as every year and at the latest every five years, depending on which board the teacher works for an how long they have been teaching.

    Of course, most administrators have an attitude toward that responsibility that is, at best, work-to-rule and, more often, laissez-faire.

    As to your discussion of the salary grid, your discussion is misleading, and incorrect.

    Think about this from a more sincere perspective: it takes a junior teacher ten full years (teachers are paid annually, and not by a ten-month year as you incorrectly state) to reach full pay. No other profession makes the professional train for ten years before they are paid a full salary.

    • Paul

      “Carol, you’re wrong about teachers not being required, by a regulatory board, to stay current in knowledge and practice.

      The ministry and the school boards are currently the regulatory bodies and teachers are required to undergo observations and assessment by their principal as often as every year and at the latest every five years, depending on which board the teacher works for an how long they have been teaching.”

      @ Eli – I read this as different. You are speaking more to an employer review where as I think she was thinking more professional designation. I have an accounting degree. Quiet separate from performance reviews with my employers, I need to, on my own time, pursue Professional Development credits in order to maintain my designation. If I don’t continue to stay current, I will lose my designation.

    • foo

      Eli, you’re talking nonsense. Teachers start at a starting salary, just like everyone else. For the next 10 years, they are guaranteed an annual increase, so that when they have 10 years experience they earn more than what they did when they had 0 years experience.

      This is exactly like every other profession and occupation in the world, except for one crucial point. The teachers are GUARANTEED A MINIMUM of 2% per year over this 10 year period, plus whatever else their union negotiates. Everyone else in the world gets increases based on their performance, their employer’s capacity to pay, and the general economic environment around them.

      And let’s not forget that teachers get an ADDITIONAL 13.3% over their gross pay in pension contributions from the employer. Show me the private sector workers that get that extra benefit.

      I’m really tired of hearing how teachers are so hard done by. We all know it’s a tough job, just like ours. We all know there’s unpleasant bureaucracy, just like we have to deal with in our jobs. Nonetheless, the teachers are not the martyrs struggling under the evil fascist regime that they like to make out that they are. Neither are the teachers the selfless, morally superior people that they like to make out that they are.

      They’re just a bunch of ordinary people, good and bad, that have to work within the bounds of an imperfect system. Like we all do. And relative to the rest of the employment world in BC, they’re doing quite well for themselves.

    • GM

      Your comments are in fact slanting things just the way teachers want the general public to think – they don’t make enough money. To further add to the math done by Carol – now imagine what we pay a 10 yr + K teacher when they decide that they need to get their Masters because their yearly increases have stopped! Suddenly the pay scale goes up again and they increase their pension, but what are they doing… absolutely nothing more than they were doing before they got their masters. It’s a complete joke, there are literary hundreds of universities (like Gonzaga) that provide a teachers masters certificate and cater to 10+ teachers. It’s like running a puppy mill for teachers masters certificates! And before you call BS, there are 3 teachers in my immediate family and they admit this is a typical financial strategy and very little to do with being a better teacher…

  • Gentleman Jack

    Teacher strikes are good things.
    They teach children that people are allowed to strike and shut things down, if working conditions become unfair.

    Really, the kids should be striking.
    The post-charter school environment is more a corporate programming facility than it is a school, in the sense schools have existed in BC for most of its history. Politically correct conformity factories is what they are.

  • boohoo

    It’s frankly disgusting that this entire debate is a piss on the teachers salary fest. Bill 22 strips teachers of essentially all their independence. It is an archaic, top down authoritarian bill reminiscent of the 1800’s.

    There is so much misinformation being spread from both sides on this issue–both the Provincial government and the BCTF need to be thrown out so teachers can actually just do their job.

    • Bill

      It’s within the teachers power to throw out the BCTF. Why don’t they? And if they can’t, why not demand to make membership in the BCTF optional and not mandatory? That would be acting like a professional.

      The voters will deal with the government at the next election if they are not happy with the job they’ve done.

  • Disgruntled Parent

    If you are a teacher… it’s hard not to support BCTF as they provide you with your mortgage payments on that rental condo downtown that you own, all while you are shacking in your Kitsilano bungalow and living the good life in your Moonmayor’s city. Good work if you can get it, right?
    It’s about the kids, we know!
    Students are striking today on behalf of the teachers? WTF? Didn’t the teachers invent detention for the students who skipped classes?
    And, teachers… please, please, hands off of our kids and remove the politics out of the classrooms. You want to talk politics talk to me not to my 2nd grader!
    Disgusting.

  • West End Gal

    Just seen a group of “striking students” heading downtown at the Van Art Gallery… where else?
    Just an observation, some of you girls would make a real hooker blush, the way you dress, your make-up and the way you use the word s__t and f__k as if they were the only two words they teach you in there. What the teachers, they didn’t see your, bling boys?And btw I didn’t know that there was a rule alright, like two cell phones per student… as you are all sooo busy, important people, jobs to go, things to do, homework to complete LOL!
    Well done BCTF! Here’s our future… bums!

  • boohoo

    Hey you keep it classy west end gal.

  • Blair

    To put the numbers into perspective consider the following. In 2011/2012 the “Standard School Calendar” from the School Act indicates that school will be in session for 193 days with 186 days of instruction. Elementary are required to be at work 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after students leave making a required work day of 6.5 hours. So over the 186 days in a school year a typical teacher is required to spend approximately 1209 non-lunch hours at their workplace. Add another 7 days (at 8 hrs/day) for professional development/report card preparation and you have a required work year of approximately 1265 hours.

    In British Columbia a standard work year (for employees with 2 weeks of holidays) is 1928 hours. A quick subtraction shows that a typical teacher works approximately 663 fewer hours than a typically employed British Columbian. In order for teachers to approach the same number of hours as a typical British Columbian they would have to do over 3.5 hours of marking for each and every day school was in session.

    Teachers earn an average salary of $70,741? If you count only the work hours that works out to a rate of almost $56/hour? Teachers who somehow manage to work 1928 hours a year pulls in a hefty $36.70/hr. To top it all off, at the end of their career they are eligible for a pension which for a 35 year employee is equivalent to approximately 70% of their annual salary. It is no wonder students flood into teacher’s colleges, the salary and benefit package puts virtually any private sector job to shame.

  • boohoo

    Blair,

    You’re delusional if you think your average teacher spends only the required hours at work or doing work. You say they would have to do 3.5 hours of ‘extra’ work every day marking. Talk to you average teacher. They do more than that. Who coaches all the sports teams? Hosts fairs and concerts? Has countless meetings with parents before and after school? I could go on.

    But this Bill 22 isn’t about any of that anyway. I won’t bother going into it because no one here seems to care. It’s just so gosh darn easy to slam teachers. But if this all goes through, check back in 10-20 years when the impact of all this is felt.

    • Bill

      If compensation is sooo bad, why is there an oversupply of teachers? Do all the good teachers leave for provinces that pay more and we are stuck with the bottom of the class?

    • Blair

      Boohoo,

      I know a tremendous number of teachers (and am married to one to boot) and can assure you that vitually none work an equivalent of 3.5 extra hours a day every work day. That being said I supplied a hourly rate for those stalwart few and it is still a pretty good salary, when combined with the holidays and pension it is nothing to sneeze at.

      As for Bill 22 it is simply a slap in the face of teachers. The problem is that while the teachers don’t seserve it their union does. From my space in the cheap seats I see a union spoiling for a fight to prepare for the next election and a government looking to score points for that same election.

      The people I do not see represented in this fight are: actual teachers, actual students and actual parents. If both sides got off their political high horses we might actually have a chance to advance the cause of public education in our province

  • boohoo

    Who said compensation is sooo bad?

    I don’t understand the oversupply argument some are making. How is what universities do related to current teachers?

    • SW

      There’s an oversupply because each University and college is graduating grads each year for the last several years hoping to get substitution teacher hours, not full time teacher status, only to make enough to live.

      2nd reason is that we have fewer students compared to the prior decade, that’s why school boards are having to shut down schools because they don’t have enough kids. Hence, the oversupply of teachers.

    • Blair

      You don’t understand the oversupply issue? Then why are you even talking on this thread?

      The market for any service is based on supply versus demand. Unlike nurses or laboratory technicians who are in short supply and therefore must be courted with better salaries, teachers are massively oversupplied. For the last decade our BC Universities have spit out about 2700 teachers a year. The Government hires about 900-1000 a year. That means every year we have about 1700 potential applicants who can’t get a job plus the extras from last year plus the applicants from the year before and so on…. So when a teacher threatens to quit the answer is “go ahead we have five applicants for your position”. That is why the Teacher’s Union has so little power in the negotiation and has to go political. If 10% of the nurses in BC quit to move to Alberta for better pay our medical system would collapse. If 10% of our teachers did the same thing they could be replaced overnight. As such comparison of province-to-province for salaries of teachers is irrelavent since any net otuflow can be made up by under-employed teachers on the ground.

  • Higgins

    I would support the teachers if come this Monday they will also tell my kid how much they make per year/ compensation+benefits/ vacation time spring/ summer/ winter… and then justify it!
    OK?

  • Ned

    Have anyone read this?
    http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2012/03/02/victoria-teacher-organizes-grade-1-letter-writing-campaign/
    If this is not sick I don’t know what is.
    Leave the brainwashing for the communists… dear “educators”!

  • boohoo

    I find the whole ‘teachers are in it for the money’ argument really….soft. I can think of a lot of jobs that pay more and are less work…. It’s weird how we are so angry that teachers make ‘so’ much, but we don’t blink an eye when hear of some execs making millions and millions more because they ‘earned it’. Yeah right.

    • Bill

      I guess asking for a 15% increase and bereavement leave for Facebook friends might be a tip off that money is an important part of the attraction in becoming a teacher. No doubt there are jobs that pay more and take less effort but that doesn’t mean teachers would be qualified to do them (you know “those that can, do…..).

      There are no doubt execs that are overpaid and some that are underpaid just like any other occupation. Life is not fair, get over it. However, one big difference is that teachers have their union to defend the incompetent whereas in non union jobs the incompetent generally end up looking for another job. The BCTF’s performance at the College of Teachers left no doubt that they are a union first and not a professional association.

    • Blair

      okay boohoo time to back up your statements with facts. Show me another occupation with similar qualifications and substantially better salaries? Most teachers have liberal arts degrees that would qualify them for starting positions in business and there is virtually no chance that more than 20% of them would be earning $74 K a year plus benefits and pensions.

      So go ahead show me40,000 jobs in BC for employees with the same qualifications that pays more for less work!

  • boohoo

    Bill,

    I can’t think of a single teacher I know that, when in university, thought ‘you know, I would love to go to school for an extra 2 years, so I can *maybe* get a job where I’m called uneducated all the time, where my job as a professional is mocked all the time, where my profession itself is mocked as babysitting, where I’m accused of brainwashing, where my salary is continually questioned by the entire general public, (I could go on) just so I can join a union that has a long history of fighting with the employer so I can enter ‘negotiations’ with that employer, have those negotiations broadcast to the world, with an employer that more than once has already committed acts found to be illegal by the supreme court yet not taken action to remedy them (I could go on) all so that I can have a job that pays in the bottom quarter of my profession across Canada’.

    Yeah, that sounds very likely.

    **Most** teachers get into teaching because they love it. Yes, there are some bad apples, like any profession. But do you (and others) honestly believe teachers are teaching just for the benefits? Really??

    All of this is a deflection from Bill 22 (which I’m sure most people haven’t read) that essentially erases 20+ years of negotiations with teachers. No limits on class size or composition. None. No say in your own professional development. None. Your job security based solely on the whim of your principal, ‘mediation’ with a provincially chosen mediator and an agenda rubber stamped by the Province, etc…

    • Bill

      boohoo, you want teachers to have it both ways – be respected as a professional yet have the financial benefits of unionization. Going out on a meaningless strike that only inconveniences parents, particularly low income families, is not the action of a professional. Teachers have chosen to be unionists first and professionals second so quite whining and enjoy the compensation that most of the rest of the population can only dream of.

  • boohoo

    Enjoy what compensation, I’m not a teacher. Good job ignoring all I said.

    • Bill

      Isn’t your wife a teacher?

  • boohoo

    Bill,

    I’m flattered you would attempt to follow my life so closely, but no, she’s not.

    Teachers are professionals. They are certified by an independent entity. Regardless, do you honestly believe people get into teaching just cause it’s ‘easy’ money? Really?

    • Bill

      “My wife’s classroom has EIGHT kids that are designated special needs,”

      from your reply to David Hadaway on March 15, 2011

  • boohoo

    Again, Bill I’m flattered (and a little scared) that you’re so up to speed on my life. She was a teacher and changed jobs prior to this year. She saw this coming and basically didn’t want to work for an employer that would have degrades its own employees. Bill 22 is actually worse than she expected, I know many of her former colleagues are starting to look elsewhere…

    Regardless, congrats on attacking the messenger and not the message.

  • Pingback: One explanation for teachers’ class composition battle | City Caucus()

  • Sick and tired

    I am an Early Childhood Educator with a degree in ECE. I teach/care for 8 children ages 0-5 years 12 hours a day/ 50 weeks a year and make about half of what a teacher makes, with no benefits, 2 weeks a year off, and substitute teachers come out of my wages. I change diapers, refer families for assesments, teach letters, numbers, reading, math, potty training, manners, and self-help skills that prepare children for kindergarten.
    We are required to take courses and worshops to keep our programming (madated by the government), and our classrooms, (inspected by our licensing officers at least annually), up tp date.
    We also have to do our prep time on our own time and by the resources and clean that said classroom ourselves.
    Now, most childcare facilities are NOT unionized, but hey, we are sure bending over backwards to support the children and families left in a pickle by this “strike”.
    Because its “ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN”….Yep, thats it….
    I have no sympathy for

    • REQUIRED READING EVERYONE!
      Especially the #BCTF members and all the people signing petitions on behalf of the oh, so “unfortunate” Teachers!
      I completely second “Sick and Tired” for this is the real, blatant, sick truth, about, an education environment with deep discriminatory “classes”, and not “grades”!
      GR