Teachers employed by the Edmonton Islamic Academy (EIA) have reached an impasse in bargaining their first collective agreement.
Teachers voted on December 18, 2011, to accept a mediator’s recommendations in a dispute that had been ongoing for 18 months. The private school’s board of directors rejected the recommendations and has since refused to return to the bargaining table.
All public, separate and francophone teachers in Alberta are active members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association in accordance with the Teaching Profession Act, but teachers in private and charter schools are ineligible for active membership. However, teachers in private and charters schools can apply to have the Association act as their bargaining agent. In 2010, the teachers of EIA organized as a bargaining unit under the Labour Relations Code and did just that. If they conclude a collective agreement, EIA teachers would hold the highest level of Association membership available to them—associate member with bargaining. The ATA represents teachers in five other private and charter schools across Alberta, including the Calgary Islamic Academy.
Without a collective agreement, teachers employed by private schools have no standard provisions outlining the conditions of their employment. The 40 teachers employed by the EIA are seeking to obtain a fair and consistent process for teacher evaluation, standard contracts of employment, a shared understanding of teacher duties, assignable and instructional time and reasonable rates of compensation.
The mediator’s recommendations included recommendations related to contracts, evaluation and assignable time, but EIA teachers continued to be concerned that their compensation was below that of teachers at the Calgary Islamic Academy and well below that of Edmonton Public School Board teachers.
After both parties voted on the mediator’s recommendation, a mandatory 14-day cooling off period commenced. Now that the cooling off period has expired, teachers can pursue a strike mandate and/or the board can seek authorization for a lock-out. In the meantime, teachers are hopeful that the board will return to the bargaining table to resume negotiations.