Conciliation Report Confirms Bargaining Impasse and Offer to Teachers Insufficient
Conciliation Board Chair Arne Peltz confirmed that the bargaining process is at an impasse, and that there has been no agreement on the issues under consideration. The report contains non-binding recommendations as a means to advance the process and underscores the importance of addressing these matters in a timely fashion.
The Teachers’ Bargaining Committee will continue to seek a guarantee from government that adequate resources be committed to education for the betterment of Saskatchewan students, families and teachers. The TBC agrees with the assertion that classroom funding is an education policy issue and a government fiscal responsibility; however, in the absence of sound policy and sufficient funding from government, teachers have little recourse but to advance these issues at the bargaining table.
“The same government that says classroom supports are a local issue to be dealt with by school divisions is the same government that has also frozen funding to school divisions,” said Patrick Maze, President of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. “The SSBA reports that almost every school division has deficit budgets because government has not provided them with adequate funding to cover the cost of day-to-day operations.”
On the issue of classroom supports, the Conciliation Board’s report further recommends that the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the Minister meet in person to “discuss steps that can be implemented immediately to support teachers and students in the classroom.”
Given these are not the three parties represented at the bargaining table, the TBC believes it raises questions about the GTBC’s authority to continue negotiations and seems to suggest that perhaps teachers are negotiating with the wrong parties.
The TBC is encouraged by comments from Educational Relations Board Chair Scott Walsworth, PhD, who states in a letter to the TBC and GTBC that “the importance of breaking the stalemate on this issue must not be overlooked.”
“We agree with Mr. Walsworth. Despite having acknowledged that there are problems, government has refused to engage in meaningful conversations about chronic underfunding of public education and has made no indication of additional, sustained funding to address these issues,” said Maze. “Should the government be prepared to bring additional resources, we would welcome re-engaging in negotiations. Until that time, further discussions will not be productive.”
The Conciliation Board declared an impasse on January 24, 2020. The board’s report was delivered a month earlier than anticipated. The report contains recommendations only and is not binding. While the TBC looks forward to negotiating these matters, the TBC does not deem returning to the table productive unless government’s position has changed.