Nova Scotia

School administrators vote on whether to retain ties with teachers union

The move follows legislation passed last year by the McNeil government that removed principals, vice-principals and other senior administrators from the union and created an organization called the Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia.

Vote follows legislation that removed administrators from Nova Scotia Teachers Union

School administrators vote today on whether to retain affiliation with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. (Robert Short/CBC)

Public school administrators will vote today on whether to retain affiliation with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union or permanently sever ties.

The move follows legislation passed last year by the McNeil government that, among other things, removed principals, vice-principals and other senior administrators from the union and created an organization called the Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia (PSAANS).

In that arrangement, PSAANS members continue to pay the union dues, but do not have the ability to organize their own union or take labour action.

The legislation says that as long as the group remains affiliated with the teachers union, it has the ability to vote every two years on whether to keep that arrangement. If at any time the vote is to end affiliation, there is no mechanism to revisit that decision.

"That's a one-way street," said Tim Simony, interim board chair of PSAANS.

What changes, what stays the same

According to a document forwarded to CBC News, the organization is recommending members vote in support of continued affiliation.

Simony has spent the last few weeks meeting with people around the province to try to answer questions and make clear the ramifications of either result.

While salaries, benefits and pensions would remain the same regardless of the vote's result because they are linked with NSTU negotiations, Simony said there are three key things that would change if affiliation were to end: the ability for an administrator to choose to go back to the classroom; access to professional development funds through the union; and the ability to continue accruing seniority.

Simony said it would be up to the association, teachers union and Education Department to reach an agreement on the process for administrators to return to the classroom, should the group end its affiliation with the union.

"It's a big sign that says, 'To be determined,'" he said.

'For the betterment' of students

When the change was first announced last year, one of the big concerns voiced by some people was what it could mean for the working relationship within schools if all staff were not in the same union.

But Simony said he's heard no reports of people having problems with the new system or a change in the quality of working relationships between teachers and administrators.

"I think that, collectively, people working in schools are trying to make things work because it's for the betterment of the education of the students that we're all there to serve," he said.

"At this point, that's been and I think continued to be the dominant target and goal of the people working."

Teachers union president Paul Wozney said the union has had no direct contact with PSAANS members relative to the vote because it's "an internal matter," but he believes retaining affiliation would keep working relationships strong while allowing administrators to retain job options and other supports.

"We have a lot of early and mid-career people engaged in school administration and if you lose that ability [to return to the classroom] that's a long time to be stuck in one job without options."

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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