The Sturgeon School Division engaged in unfair labour practices when it deliberately and wilfully breached the collective agreement while engaged in local collective bargaining with teachers.
This April 21 decision from Alberta’s Labour Relations Board (LRB) stems from a November 2019 complaint made by the Alberta Teachers’ Association after the school board issued a memo restricting Morinville teachers from accessing personal leave.
Issuing the memo violated section 147(2)(b) of the Labour Relations Code, which prohibits employers from altering pay rates or terms of employment while bargaining is underway, stated LRB vice-chair William Johnson in his written decision.
“In this case, there is a deliberate and willful decision by the employer to breach the collective agreement during the (freeze),” Johnson wrote. “Intentionally flouting the parties’ previous bargaining efforts by proceeding on the very terms expressly rejected by the other party during bargaining cannot be anything but bargaining in bad faith.”
Teachers assigned to Morinville and Four Winds public schools were directed in an October 31, 2019 memo that they would not be allowed to access their two days of personal leave during one week that December while the Four Winds School was being relocated from Morinville to a new site. Prior to this, the board had unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate an exception to the collective agreement for this period, and then, according to Johnson, “deliberately conducted itself in accordance with terms it knew the union did not agree with” by issuing the memo.
“This is an important win for Sturgeon teachers and the Association. We had a particularly bad round of bargaining in Sturgeon this year, and this distrustful behaviour rocked the relationship between teachers and the board to the core,” said Sean Brown, ATA associate co-ordinator of collective bargaining.
“Teachers now feel vindicated to know the angst and frustration they were feeling actually stemmed from unfair and ultimately illegal actions by their employer,” Brown said.
“Sturgeon teachers deserved to be treated better. It is essential now for the board to work on repairing relationships with their teachers after this tumultuous round of bargaining.”
The April 21, 2021 decision can be viewed on the Alberta Labour Relations Board website.
Sturgeon School Division employs approximately 312 full- and part-time teachers in public schools serving the communities and surrounding areas of Bon Accord, Camilla, Gibbons, Guthrie, Morinville, Namao, Redwater and the rural St. Albert area. ❚