2007 02 20 Parkland teachers expect no quick fix

The strike by teachers in the Parkland School Division enters its second day today with no prospect of a settlement in sight. Teachers have opened a strike headquarters in Stony Plain and will be gathering there for the duration.

Commenting on improvements that teachers wish to achieve, Robert Twerdoclib, president of the Parkland Teachers’ Local, said that a new collective agreement must meet the expressed needs of his membership. “The total number of hours of instruction is certainly of great importance to Parkland teachers,” Twerdoclib said. “The pressure on teachers’ lives is heavy and mounting. Limits on hours of instruction are part of the agreements of neighbouring school jurisdictions and have to be established within our collective agreement as well.” A Disputes Inquiry Board, formed by the provincial government to end the lockout imposed by trustees at the end of the last round of bargaining, established a teacher-board advisory committee. “The trustees refused to work with that committee this year,” Twerdoclib said, adding that such an approach is typical of the trustees’ working relationship with teachers. “There is no way that we can rely on the trustees and the division’s management to institute improvements in teacher workload.”

In connection with teachers’ work lives, Twerdoclib said health spending accounts must remain in place for all teachers, whether full-time or part-time. “These accounts were established as part of the settlement for the last collective agreement,” he said. “We will not tolerate the board’s attempt to strip these from our agreement and we will contest every attempt the board makes to deny this benefit to any teacher.”

Twerdoclib said that teachers put forward a salary formula that would be a fair way of determining compensation over the life of the next collective agreement. “Teachers are concerned about the effects of inflation and the rocketing cost of living in Alberta’s hot economy,” he said. “We believe there are fair ways to adjust compensation for each year of a multi-year collective agreement and we have placed concepts for an agreement in principle on the bargaining table.”

The position of trustees on retroactivity of pay is also at issue. “For some unknown reason, the trustees expect that any new salary scale will be effective only from the day of signing forward,” Twerdoclib said. “Funding provided by the provincial government was received by the board in September and teacher collective agreements are always retroactive to the last day of the previous agreement.”

Twerdoclib urged parents to stay informed of the issues in dispute and to support teachers in achieving a collective agreement that recognizes their expertise in educational matters and their commitment to the students of the Parkland School Division.

For more information, please contact Robert Twerdoclib at (780) 963-3842.