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ASBA President’s statement re: Introduction of Bill 8

ASBA President Helen Clease issued the following statement today:

Edmonton… The Alberta School Boards Association is concerned with the direction taken in Bill 8 – the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act – introduced in the Legislature today.

Bill 8 seeks to establish a two-tiered bargaining model with an employer bargaining association and limits the ability of school boards to develop local solutions in contracts with their teachers. This is the first time school boards have received confirmation from government on this new approach.

ASBA and its member school boards advocate for and support a principled, local approach to collective bargaining where: school boards first and foremost consider what is best for students and provides enhanced opportunities for student success; boards then seek to ensure solutions are financially sustainable now and in the future; and finally, school boards support retaining flexibility for the solutions to be managed and implemented in a local context.

To that end, local bargaining offers the best opportunity for local school boards to meet with their local teachers to consider solutions that best reflect and address their local circumstances.

“Solutions made centrally, with limited opportunities to consider local realities, rarely provide the best outcomes,” said ASBA President Helen Clease.  “One size does not fit all for students’ education or for concluding terms of employment between a variety of employers and their employees. What works in a large city may create problems in a rural area.”

Alberta Education did reach out to school boards two months ago in limited, individual two-hour meetings with each school board.  At that time, government was unable to fully clarify their interests in developing a new approach to bargaining with teachers.  Both ASBA and the school boards were asked to provide feedback on the concept of a two-tiered bargaining model.  A majority of ASBA’s members indicated they provided information to government that supported local bargaining. This position is reflected in ASBA policy.

“I appreciate the Minister of Education had Alberta Education staff consult with school boards about collective bargaining options, but neither school boards nor the Association were provided feedback or information relative to any decisions made in advancing this proposed legislation,” said Clease.  “School boards deserve to be informed as to why the position of ASBA and many school boards is not reflected in this proposed legislation.”

ASBA will now consult with its members to determine how to respond to Bill 8 and will work to ensure school boards will have a voice as this issue progresses.

“The legislation outlines a commitment to the concept of a two-tiered model where the funder – the provincial government – has a defined role,” said Clease.  “Should the legislation eventually be proclaimed, much will need to be done to develop specific regulations to support its implementation and operation.  It is imperative that school boards play a much larger role as we move forward.”

School boards, as the employer, need to have an authentic and meaningful role in establishing terms of employment for their teachers, whatever process for collective bargaining is established.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Scott McCormack, Executive Director, ASBA at 780.451.7132

The Alberta School Boards Association serves and represents Alberta’s 61 school boards.