Alberta teachers reject 'unacceptable' offer
Alberta Teachers’ Association says new deal worse than proposal in December
Alberta teachers have rejected the latest deal for a four-year provincewide contract proposed by Education Minister Jeff Johnson.
Alberta Teachers’ Association president Carol Henderson called the offer "unacceptable."
"In financial terms, it is actually worse for teachers than what he proposed in December," she said in a release.
"Finally, there still remains the need to guarantee stability for teachers just as it guarantees stability for school boards and the province."
As well, Henderson says the ATA is upset with an attached letter from Johnson that suggests salary rollbacks and staff cuts if the deal is rejected.
She says teachers do not respond well to ultimatums.
Education minister disappointed
Johnson responded by saying he is disappointed that teachers have rejected the latest offer.
"Our proposal would have meant labour stability and cost certainty during these tough economic times," he said in a release.
The Redford government has been warning all provincial departments that it will be a tight budget this year, one that comes with a projected $4-billion deficit.
Johnson said he is unclear whether a post-budget deal will be able to offer as much stability.
The four-year agreement would have seen salaries for roughly 35,000 Alberta teachers frozen for three years, followed by an increase of two per cent in 2015.
Johnson said teachers with 10 years experience in Alberta are the among the highest paid in the country.
Workload a sticking point in the talks
Teachers will continue to negotiate contracts with each of the 62 school boards in the province, but Johnson warned he doesn’t want to see boards taking money out of classrooms to provide raises for teachers.
Johnson said the ATA’s rejection of a commitment to study workload issues in the latest deal was particularly upsetting.
He said Alberta Education had proposed to review how teacher workloads could be adjusted without impacting the education of Alberta's 600,000 students.
The ATA wanted a cap on the hours teachers work, a proposal Johnson rejected in November.
"There are no provisions for placing reasonable limits on the amount of time that teachers can be assigned to work by their employer boards, and what provisions there are for limiting the amount of time teachers are in the classroom are full of loopholes," said Henderson.
The last contract, which expired in August, was a five-year provincial agreement where Alberta took over the unfunded liability in the teachers pension plan. Henderson said that it was an anomaly, as teachers usually bargain with local boards.