By Jensen, Randy on August 26, 2020.
LETHBRIDGE HERALD – TABER
Teachers employed by the Horizon School Division No. 67 based out of Taber have voted 87 per cent in favour of authorizing the Alberta Teachers’ Association to request a government-supervised strike vote.
The teachers have been working for nearly two years without a finalized collective agreement, the ATA said in a news release. Horizon Division is one of only 15 school boards in the province that have not reached a local settlement for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 school years.
“Our division was the second-last to settle during the last round of negotiations, and that required mediation. This time, mediation has failed because the board is being rigid and unreasonable in its demands,” said Walter Plumtree, president, ATA Horizon Local No. 4, in the release. “While teachers are trying to negotiate, the employer is stalling. Horizon teachers are disappointed that they are being treated without consideration in light of all that is going on with the pandemic. There’s enough stress right now without having to contend with an employer who doesn’t respect you.”
At a general meeting held Monday, the teachers reviewed the last offer proposed by the division, which attempted to strip their collective agreement of several important measures related to leaves and substitute teachers, the ATA release said.
Following a meeting between the two sides on June 25, a government-appointed mediator concluded they were too far apart to reach a mediated settlement and chose to “write out” of the process. This left the parties free to reach an agreement on their own or, following a two-week cooling-off period, begin the process of moving toward a strike or lockout. Following Monday’s authorization vote, Horizon teachers can apply to hold a government-supervised strike vote at any time. If a strike mandate is approved, teachers could legally strike after providing 48 hours’ notice.
Horizon School Division No. 67 employs approximately 220 full- and part-time teachers in public and Hutterian Brethren schools throughout southeastern Alberta, including Taber, Grassy Lake, Barnwell, Enchant, Milk River, Hays, Vauxhall, Lomond and Warner.