2007 03 09 Parkland teachers invite trustees to return to bargaining table

Parkland teachers have invited trustees to return to the bargaining table with the goal of concluding a collective agreement that will allow students to return to school on Monday morning.

“We are available to bargain today, tomorrow and through the rest of the weekend,” said Robert Twerdoclib, president of the Parkland Teachers’ Local of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. “We are not setting any preconditions. Teachers want to resolve this labour dispute so that they and their students can return to the classroom at the beginning of next week.”

Twerdoclib pointed out that both Education Minister Ron Liepert and Employment, Immigration and Industry Minister Iris Evans had urged the parties to resume negotiations. “The government appointed mediator continues to be available if either party wants to access this resource,” Liepert wrote in his March 8 letter to Gruber and Twerdoclib.

Twerdoclib expressed hope that Parkland board chair Grace Gruber would change her mind and agree to bargain with the assistance of a government-appointed mediator. He noted that, on March 2, the Alberta Labour Relations Board had expressed concern the parties had used a professional mediator on only three occasions. “While using a mediator is not a be-all or an end-all, these professionals often assist parties in getting past personal animosities—if any exist—to focus on what is necessary to get a full resolution,” the labour relations board wrote.

“While we would welcome the appointment of a special mediator, the fact remains we are willing to meet with or without one,” said Twerdoclib. “A disputes inquiry board is not a solution. The appropriate time to establish a disputes inquiry board is before a strike begins. Under the Labour Relations Code, a disputes inquiry board cannot stop a strike once a strike is under way. A mediator could be appointed and in place immediately.”

Teachers employed by Parkland School Division normally provide educational services to more than 9,500 students in 22 schools located between Entwistle and Spruce Grove. They have been without a collective agreement since August 31, 2006.

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