Business as usual in Alberta schools as teacher collective agreements expire

At midnight on August 31, the collective agreements between teachers and their employer boards will expire, but it will continue to be business as usual in Alberta’s schools.

Teachers have been working under collective agreements that covered the five year period from September 1, 2007 to August 31, 2012. These agreements were settled in accordance with a provincial framework agreement that was concluded between the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the government of Alberta in November 2007.

Currently, none of the local teacher bargaining units have concluded new collective agreements with their respective school boards and so the provisions of the previous agreements will remain in place as the new school year begins. Bargaining between teachers and boards concerning local issues has been initiated in all of the province’s school districts and Tripartite talks involving the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Government of Alberta and the Alberta School Boards Association are continuing. The goal of the Tripartite talks is to arrive at a successor provincial framework agreement by October 31. If approved by the participating parties, the agreement would secure continuing labour peace in Alberta while establishing the necessary conditions to ensure Alberta’s schools continue to provide a quality of education that is among the best in the world. The framework agreement would set out parameters within which each school board and teacher local bargaining unit would negotiate and conclude their own collective agreement.

As long as talks are ongoing at the provincial or local level, schools will continue to operate as usual. Under Alberta labour law, the provisions of a collective agreement automatically bridge, or remain in place, until a strike or lock-out occurs or a new collective agreement is signed.

“Education in Alberta isn’t the NHL” said Carol Henderson, President of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. “No one here is talking about lock-outs or strikes just because we do not yet have agreements in place. For students, parents and teachers, it will be business as usual come Tuesday morning and everyone can enjoy their Labour Day weekend.”