Kamloops-Thompson School District teachers vote this week on a proposed contract that their union openly says displeases them.
"It was a compromise," said Kamloops-Teachers' Association president Jason Karpuk.
Kamloops teachers rallied Wednesday afternoon to protest the contract's failure to address such things as class composition, special needs and learning conditions in the classroom.
"It's not what I think a lot of teachers felt they deserved, but at the same time, I think it's better than what they expected was going to come down with legislation," said Karpuk. "So in that respect, teachers are satisfied with the compromise, but we'll see when the membership votes."
Kamloops-Thompson school board chair Denise Harper declined to comment on the contract as it's in the ratification process.
The new deal gives teachers improved benefits and seniority provisions, but no wage increases in keeping with the government's zero wage hike policy for public-sector unions.
The teachers began voting on Wednesday, continue through today and conclude end of day Friday.
B.C. Teachers Federation president Susan Lambert said the province "bullied" the union into agreeing to the contract after Bill 22 left them fearing punitive legislation.
The union filed a challenge in B.C. Supreme Court Wednesday against the law passed in March that ended the job dispute and forced both sides into mediation, saying it stripped them of their constitutional right to collective bargaining.
A court challenge disputing the appointment of mediator Charles Jago is now moot, said Lambert.
Meanwhile, relationships between teachers and principals and trustees have been "shredded" and suffered "irreparable damage" by the negotiating process, she said.
The strain has been felt in Kamloops-Thompson, said Karpuk,
"It's very disheartening to see we've been standing up for what we believe is a system that is broken, it's underfunded, and we're not getting the same support from the partner groups."
But he urged people to keep their focus on the issues.
"We need to step back and recognize it's not a personal individual attack on anybody. But at the same time we've got to recognize that it is everybody's individual fight with respect to standing up for education."
Harper said she hasn't seen the shredding of relationships, but acknowledged the possibility.
"There may be some people who obviously will feel very hurt over the whole situation."
She said principals have been working hard to maintain good relationships in the tumultuous times by "being mindful" about what teachers have invested in this round of bargaining and job action.
And where they are frayed, work will be done to heal rifts by "being respectful and mindful and supportive of the work they do for us as teachers."
Premier Christy Clark is cheering the tentative contract.
"We can't underestimate the importance of resuming normal activity without disruption in schools next September," said Clark.
Education Minister George Abbott, who had maintained the government was prepared to legislate a teachers' contract to prevent disruptions in the coming school year, said Wednesday that there wasn't much optimism that mediation would work.
"This has come together, I think, to the surprise of many people," said Abbott, who joined Clark in Kelowna. "This was not a babe that was easily born. This took a lot of work."