School board association enters labour relations dispute
If Alberta’s Labour Relations Board agrees to hear an Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) complaint against Rocky View Schools (RVS), the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) wants a say at the hearing.
On June 11, the ATA filed a complaint of unfair bargaining against RVS. The move came after the school board posted a 34-page opening bargaining position, between the ATA and itself, on its website.
Trustee Colleen Munro said the board posted the information online in the interest of transparency, on June 13.
In a statement of complaint, ATA legal counsel noted that “The School Division’s actions constitute a stark and abrupt departure from long-standing practice between the parties; they are, at the same time, a departure from the long-standing practice that has subsisted between the ATA and other school districts throughout the Province for many years.”
The statement states that the motive behind the gesture is to create a chill on bargaining efforts by encouraging the public to exert pressure on the ATA to moderate its proposals.
The complaint characterizes the actions as “destabilizing” and “destructive” to the bargaining process and describes them as bargaining in bad faith.
As of June 25, the Labour Relations Board had not indicated if it will hear the ATA’s complaint.
“What the Labour Relations Board decides in this matter will affect all school boards’ ability to communicate – to be transparent with the public,” said ASBA President Jacquie Hansen.
“If this goes to a hearing, the ASBA wants to be involved so we can make the case for transparency in negotiations. In this day and age, people are demanding transparency and accountability from local governments. It’s important school boards are unconstrained in their ability to provide timely updates to their communities – if they choose to do so.”
Rocky View Schools Communications Coordinator Angela Spanier said RVS “does not have an opinion on the ASBA applying for intervener status.”
“Anyone can apply for intervener status,” she said.
As an intervener, the ASBA plans to describe how school boards have historically communicated about negotiations and to describe the negative impact limiting school boards’ ability to be transparent with the public and community could have.