Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Teachers Union elects new president after close race

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union elects Ryan Lutes as new president, following a second ballot election held yesterday. He secured 51 per cent of the vote.

Halifax’s Ryan Lutes wins 51 per cent of the vote on second ballot

Ryan Lutes was elected president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union in a vote Thursday. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) has elected Ryan Lutes as president after winning 51 per cent of the vote in a second ballot election Thursday. 

More than 9,500 members of the NSTU cast their ballots electronically during the first round of voting last Wednesday, but no winner was declared. 

In order to win, a candidate must secure a simple majority of the votes, 50 per cent plus one. 

In Thursday's run-off vote Lutes secured the position, narrowly defeating Peter Day.

"The shock is still setting in but I'm ready to get to work for teachers," Lutes told CBC Radio's Information Morning Nova Scotia on Friday.

Lutes, a mathematics teacher at Halifax West High School, served as the Halifax City NSTU local president from 2015 to 2021. He was recently elected as a Halifax City representative for NSTU's provincial executive. 

"When teachers are supported, when teachers are supported by the system, they're going to take care of the kids and that's what I've always believed, " he said. "And so that's kind of been my mantra all the way through my various roles."

Collective agreement set to expire next year

NSTU's collective agreement will expire in about one year. Lutes said he wants to start developing a new agreement while bolstering the union and speaking with parents and teachers about what's important to them. 

He said he's already met with some teachers around the province who've said the challenges of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic have only added to the pressures of the job, on top of staffing shortages.

"They're just not being supported in the best way and they're having a hard time dealing with that and trying to really support their students because that's what they're all about," he said.

"A lot of teachers go home thinking they could have done more, but they gave their all and they did what they could and so I think we really need to look at education as investments, and we need to think about investing in teachers because if we invest in teachers, they're going to take care of the kids."

Ryan Lutes is the newly elected president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, after receiving 51% of the vote from NSTU members. Portia asks what he thinks of his narrow win, what challenges he anticipates, and what kind of relationship he expects with Houston's government.

Lutes said the union is ready to collaborate with Premier Tim Houston's government, in hopes of coming to a fair agreement "that moves teachers ahead and moves the system ahead."

"Teachers need more time to plan for their students, to plan engaging lessons. Teachers are telling me that, especially post-COVID, kids are coming into classes with needs they may not have had before," he said.

"So we need to recognize that things might be different and that we need to do things a little bit differently and invest so that we can bring those kids up to where they need to be and work ahead so that we can make those positive impacts."

In a release, the NSTU said 59 per cent of union members voted yesterday.

Lutes will assume office Aug. 1, replacing Paul Wozney who served as president since 2018. Wozney was not able to run again because he served two terms.

With files from CBC Radio's Information Morning Nova Scotia

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