Late this afternoon, the Association received the report of the arbitration board, chaired by David Jones, QC, in regards to teacher salary arbitration.
I regret to inform you that in a split decision, the arbitration board has decided not to award any salary increases for teachers through the term of the central agreement, September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2020.
The Association was seeking 3 per cent increases in both the 2018/19 and 2019/20 school years. The Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) was seeking a 2 per cent rollback of salaries on behalf of all 61 school boards.
It is difficult for me to describe how absolutely frustrated and deeply disappointed I am in this decision. The Association advanced a very strong argument in arbitration, and I was confident that a modest and reasonable salary increase was possible. Unfortunately, the arbitrator largely ignored the recent history of salary restraint in teacher collective agreements and chose to focus on the state of the Alberta economy.
Combined with other settlements, this arbitration means general salary increases since 2012 have been 0, 0, 0, 2, 0, 0, 0 and 0. That is 7 zeroes in the last 8 years. The arbitrator has effectively kicked the can down the road. This result will place even greater pressure on the next round of collective bargaining. We will be seeking a long overdue correction.
This decision is very fresh and is included in a 36-page report from the arbitration board. Association staff and political leaders will be conducting a more thorough analysis of this decision, and we will be considering our options for further response. You will hear more from us shortly.
To reiterate, I share your disappointment and anger with this decision. Teachers deserved better. I look forward to talking with you more about your reactions and the next steps to ensure that teachers in this province are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.