Alberta teachers' union recommends deal to members

The Alberta Teacher's Association is recommending a tentative four-year deal to its 40,000 members.

4-year-deal freezes salaries for 3 years, followed by a 2% increase in 2015

A tentative four-year deal with Alberta's teachers calls for a three-year wage freeze followed by a two per cent increase in 2015. 3:47

A tentative four-year deal with Alberta's teachers calls for a three-year wage freeze followed by a two per cent increase in 2015.

The Alberta Teacher's Association is recommending the offer to its 40,000 members, who will now be asked to vote on it while talks continue about local issues between the ATA and their respective school boards.

Alberta's teachers have been without a contract since August.

"We are facing a challenging fiscal climate but we know that it's as important as ever to keep building our province for the future," says Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

"I'm proud to say that this agreement will ensure the sustainability and the stability of Alberta's education system for years to come."

The deal is the same as a previous deal that was offered to teachers but now includes a one per cent cash bonus for teachers in the fourth year of the deal in addition to a two per cent salary increase.

ATA president Carol Henderson says the deal should also reduce the workload for educators.

"I believe this offer will get us to really seriously looking at the expectations for workloads for teachers," Henderson says.

Edmonton school board has concerns

Sarah Hoffman, board chair of Edmonton Public Schools, expressed concerns Friday about the proposed agreement with teachers in the face of major budget pressures.

She said Edmonton Public Schools is facing a revenue shortfall of at least $3 million for the remainder of this year and $29 million for the 2013-2014 school year, and that's with no changes to enrolment.

Hoffman says they are also facing increased staff costs, which will include annual increments and benefits not funded as part of the proposed agreement. She says those issues could impact the services available to students.

"By all accounts, this shortfall is a conservative estimate, and could end up being far worse," said Hoffman in a release. "We know this proposed agreement will only exacerbate the financial difficulties we face and we will not be able to sustain our current level of service."

She said the agreement brushes aside many years of local decision making and the role of school boards in addressing the needs of local communities and students.

"Our board is worried that we have been put in a position that we cannot possibly hope to fund or fulfill the agreement we have been asked to support," said Hoffman.