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ATA walks away from tripartite bargaining process

Red Deer Public Schools is committed to reaching a deal with its teachers after discussions ended between the provincial government, school boards and Alberta Teachers’ Association.

The public school district issued a news release on Friday, just hours after learning discussions had stopped.

“The board of trustees was supportive of the tripartite process and hopeful that an agreement could be reached to ensure stability and financial certainty,” said the school district. “Our board is committed to arriving at a contract through local bargaining that will ensure the best learning conditions for students in Red Deer.”

School boards and the Alberta government were surprised when the teachers’ association walked away from talks on Friday. The ATA has presented an offer directly to the provincial government.

Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) President Carol Henderson has called on Premier Alison Redford to accept an offer from the province’s teachers to secure labour peace in all of Alberta’s 62 public, separate and francophone school jurisdictions.

Their offer proposes four years of labour peace and includes two years of zero per cent salary increases.

Alberta School Boards Association President Jacquie Hansen expressed disappointment with the ATA’s decision to step away from the table.

“The ASBA and school boards have been preparing for the possibility that if these talks don’t achieve an agreement – we will be ready to revert to local bargaining – which is how contracts have been achieved and settled in Alberta for years,” said Hansen in a written response on the ASBA website.

During these provincial discussions, Hansen said the school boards were looking for a deal that would have: supported improved student learning; be funded by government such that school boards would not have to cut other programs to pay for the agreement; and ensure that rural, urban, metro boards have the flexibility they need to respond to unique local conditions.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson told news media in a conference call that he was disappointed and a little bit shocked with the ATA’s departure from the negotiating table because he had been working with the ATA and the ASBA over the last six months. The province still plans to reach out to the ATA president, said Johnson.

“If this means that they would prefer to step away from the tripartite table and go back to local negotiations with local school boards, then I want to assure parents and every student out there that this is something we respect and has served us well for over 100 years,” said Johnson.

ltester@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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