The Alberta Teachers’ Association has disengaged from tripartite discussions intended to conclude a framework agreement that would provide a structure for concluding collective agreements between individual school boards and teacher bargaining units. Does this mean the Association is refusing to participate in further discussions with government and school boards or that an agreement is impossible?
No. The Alberta Teachers’ Association is not closing the door to future discussions with the government and/or school boards, and its decision to disengage from the tripartite process is intended to bring about an agreement.
The final decision by the Association’s Provincial Executive Council to disengage from the tripartite process was made only after government had indicated that the Association’s proposal was unacceptable and on the day that both the Minister and President of the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) had previously indicated was the deadline for concluding an agreement. After 20 meetings over the course of four months, there was really nothing more the Association could offer government or the ASBA to make the agreement work, nor was there any indication that either of the other two parties was prepared to move dramatically to achieve a solution.
Under the circumstances, the elected leadership of the Association decided it needed to inform its members of the proposal it was advancing on their behalf, and break the tripartite log-jam by bringing what the Association believes to be a fair and reasonable solution to the notice of Premier Redford and the public. Neither was possible within the constraints of the formal tripartite process.
In taking this bold step, the Association is hoping that the Premier will recognize, even if others may not, that the teachers’ proposal achieves the fiscal goals of government, ensures cost containment for school boards, secures meaningful improvements in the conditions of teachers’ professional practice and provides stability for Alberta’s students and their families. This is a proposal that Premier Redford should embrace and an opportunity for her to demonstrate real leadership and vision.
If government and/or school boards want to engage in further discussions, the Association is certainly willing to listen to what they have to say, but frankly, the tripartite process has run its course and it is time to make a decision. If an agreement is possible, then the parties will need to move immediately to finalize and implement it. If an agreement is not possible, then teacher bargaining units and school boards need to be freed to engage in unrestricted local collective bargaining.