The binding decision by the arbitration board was received by the parties to the collective agreement on Friday, September 7, 2018. A member email was issued within hours of receiving the decision and provided members with preliminary information. The entire decision and further information were provided in a Provincial Collective Bargaining Update issued on Monday, September 10, 2018. The Teachers’ Bargaining Committee and the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committees will continue to determine contract language for the provisions where the arbitration board did not provide the language.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How did we arrive at arbitration as the dispute resolution method being selected in this round of negotiations?
In March 2017, prior to negotiations commencing, the elected Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Executive selected Route A as the process to be followed should an impasse in negotiations occur. Route A allows either party to make a unilateral request for arbitration should they choose. Route A is outlined in Section 239(1)(a) of The Education Act, 1995.
2. What exactly is arbitration?
Arbitration is a quasi-legal dispute resolution process. Both the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) and the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee (TBC) appointed one person to the arbitration board. The two appointees agreed upon the chair of the arbitration board. The arbitration board heard presentations from both bargaining committees and determined the content of the new collective agreement.
3. Who was on the arbitration board?
The nominee appointed by the TBC was Carol Moen. The nominee appointed by the GTBC was Don Zerr. The agreed-upon chairperson for the arbitration board was Arne Peltz.
4. How is arbitration different from other dispute resolution processes we have used in the past?
Typically in arbitration, the arbitration board will carefully listen to the Committees’ presentations and then determine the outcome of the issues placed before it. The arbitration board is authorized to decide the resolution of the collective agreement issues that were placed before it. The decision of the arbitration board is final and binding. This is different from processes used in previous rounds where a third party attempts to bridge the differences between the bargaining committees, resulting in either a resolution the parties willingly agree upon or the writing of a non-binding report.
5. Why couldn’t the two bargaining committees come to an agreement through negotiation?
Following the provincial budget being tabled in March 2017, the provincial government embarked on an effort to achieve a 3.5 percent reduction in total compensation costs in each of the public sector bargaining agreements. This made negotiations particularly challenging, and very little progress was made towards securing an agreement that would be acceptable to teachers despite spending 13 days in negotiations over the course of nine months. This, coupled with the refusal of the government to negotiate even non-monetary items of importance to teachers, led the STF Executive to request third-party intervention to conclude a collective agreement.
6. What has happened since the application in January?
The ERB accepted the application for arbitration which initiated the arbitration process.
The arbitration board convened and met with the lead spokespersons for the TBC and GTBC and outlined the process that would be followed in this arbitration. The arbitration board provided a timeline for the parties to prepare and submit the rationale and data to support their proposals in advance of the arbitration hearings that were scheduled for July. Between March and the end of June, the Federation made four different submissions to the board and provided seven binders of annotated data and rationale supporting the proposals. The Federation also provided a detailed response and critique to the submissions of the GTBC.
Four days of hearings occurred in late July where the TBC and GTBC appeared before the arbitration board to present their proposals and provide additional support and rationale for their positions.
7. How was the ruling of the arbitration board communicated?
The arbitration board released their decision in a document provided to the TBC and GTBC. The decision of the arbitration board is final and binding. The decision forms the new Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement.
8. What happens after the decision of the arbitration board is received?
The TBC and GTBC begin the process of implementing the new provisions within the Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There will be opportunities for teachers to learn about the contents of the new collective agreement.