Bargaining teams for the B.C. Teachers' Federation, and the B.C. Public School Employers' Association met over the weekend at a Richmond hotel—including a 16-hour session on Sunday—as they tried to reach an agreement to send more than half a million students back to school.
Talks adjourned at 2 a.m. PT Monday, when mediator Vince Ready emerged to say he was able for the first time to bring the two sides together in the same room.
"We had one joint meeting today, and that was the only one we had. Other than that, I'm just shuttling back and forth," said Ready.
Because there is a media blackout, no one is saying what is being discussed or what concessions are being made.
But Ready did say both sides will reconvene for a presentation from the BCTF on Monday.
"The BCTF are working on a proposal, and they are going to get back to me in the morning."
To outsiders, the fact negotiations are scheduled to resume later Monday morning may sound incremental, but the face-to-face meetings appear to be the most progress made in months.
The new negotiations come after the government rejected binding arbitration to end the impasse, despite the vast majority of teachers voting in favour of it.
In the past, the government has accused the BCTF of demanding a wage and benefit package worth twice as much as the contracts agreed to by most of the public sector unions.
And BCTF has demanded the government remove a proposal it feared would circumvent its decade long legal battle to regain some control over class size, and composition.
Over the weekend, parents and students made plenty of noise at multiple rallies.
Tensions appear to be rising though. A brief confrontation broke out at the Vancouver Art Gallery when a pro-teacher rally was crashed by a group of parents from Richmond wielding anti-union signs.