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More information coming soon, but nothing “imminent” in potential St. Paul teachers strike

There will be more information about the negotiation between the Alberta Teachers Association and the St. Paul Education Board next week, said both parties.

Since the teachers voted 90 per cent in favour to authorize a strike vote in December, there has been no new public information about the nature of the negotiation.

A spokesperson from the Alberta Teachers Association said that a strike is not imminent, and there could be a statement made after Feb. 13.

The vote that was held in December was an internal vote to satisfy the teacher’s internal approval processes, it wasn’t a vote that was required by the labour relations code.

The strike process works like this: first, there is a strike vote, then a 72-hour strike notice, and then afterward the strike begins.

The vote that happened in December was not a strike vote, but an authorization from the teachers to those at the bargaining table to use it.

Right now, the teachers are still in advance of that strike vote, and there is no timeline to use it.

At the same time, at any point, after the initial cooling off period is done, the school board could decide to take a lockout vote.

If they had a successful lockout mandate they would be able to provide lockout notification. It would be 72 hours notice before a lockout might commence.

It is believed that both sides are talking about different avenues forward.

The parties have come to the negotiating table twice.

In December, the teachers considered the recommendations of a government-appointed mediator and voted to reject those terms for settlement because they said it “offered no substantial improvements over an agreement previously rejected by teachers in November.”

Greater St. Paul Local president Connie Landsiedel said in a press release in December that an agreement should be easy, with some minor improvements to family illness, bereavement, and personal leave clauses or some other no-cost improvements that would demonstrate respect from the school board.

St. Paul Educatoin Regional Director Board Chair, Heather Starosielski, said in an email in January that they are concerned why teachers are talking strike when their negotiating committee has approved settlement proposals on two different occasions.

“We are bound to deal with the negotiating committee, but this experience leads us to wonder why there seems to be a disconnect between the bargaining table and local teachers,” said Starosielski.

She said there will be a comment after the board’s next meeting on Feb. 13.

Starosielski said at the time that they continue to stand by the independent mediator’s recommendation for settlement and trust that the matter can be resolved in due course without any classroom disruption.