Province to legislate Alberta teachers' deal

The Alberta government has announced it will introduce legislation to implement the four-year deal offered to teachers across the province.

Bill 26, the Assurance for Students Act, to be introduced even though some union locals and school boards rejected the offer

The deadline for all of Alberta's school boards and local unions to accept the contract offer made to teachers in March was 3 p.m. MT Monday. (CBC)

The Alberta government has announced it will introduce legislation to implement the four-year deal offered to teachers across the province. 

Most school boards and union locals voted in favour of the deal but a handful said no, including the Calgary Board of Education.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson said he plans to introduce Bill 26 on Tuesday.

"I'm doing what I have to do to get a deal across the finish line," Johnson told reporters on a conference call Monday afternoon.

"The alternative is to let the deal collapse because as of tonight the deal fails if we don't have everyone on board and we don't have everyone on board."

After the province and the Alberta Teachers’ Association brokered the deal in March, it went out to all 62 school boards and union locals for ratification.

The deadline for accepting the deal was 3 p.m. MT today.

ATA president Carol Henderson said she wasn't surprised by Johnson's actions, but expressed dismay that the government decided to legislate the settlement.

"This is not our preferred solution," she said in a release. "Imposing a legislated settlement is inconsistent with collective bargaining and is exactly what some teachers were hoping to avoid by supporting the offer."

Awkward situation

The president of the Alberta School Boards Association called the situation awkward because it wants to support boards who rejected the offer.

"They are elected by the people in their community to make the decisions best for their community. So if they're rejecting it, they have reason to be rejecting it," said Jacquie Hansen.

Kelly Williams, a labour relations expert with the University of Lethbridge, said the legislation is problematic in a lot of ways.

"Essentially it's the government dictating what the salaries will be," she said.

Johnson said the bargaining system is flawed because it gives veto power to a small minority — something he hopes can be re-examined.

The four-year contract includes a three-year wage freeze, followed by a two per cent increase in 2015 and a one per cent cash bonus in the final year.