Thursday, February 28, 2013

Teacher Strike?

Is it in the cards?  I think there is a high probability, and getting higher by the week.

For several months now there has been an attempt to get a province-wide agreement between the Alberta Teachers Association and the Provincial government, instead of ATA locals bargaining individually with local school boards.  Such attempts have failed (and of course both sides insist the failure is due to the other side).  ANdd now the rhetoric is getting ramped up.

A couple weeks ago there was a news story about the Education Minister musing publicly about a legislated/imposed settlement.  Yeah, that will help improve the moods at the bargaining table.  NOT!

Then the same minister decided to send out a mass e-mail to teachers directly, bypassing the ATA.  Again, will this improve relationships?

Add into the mix the fact that the upcoming budget is expected to be a fairly tough one because oil revenues are way down (and because in all these years the province has yet to find a way to not be so reliant on oil revenues--in fact made it worse in the 90's under a neo-con finance minister who thought a flat tax was a good idea) and the writing on the wall gets clearer and clearer.  As I read this article I have to say a strike or other job action seems more and more likely.

I am of a mixed opinion about the effectiveness of teacher's strikes.   To be sure a strike is one of the strongest tool organized labour has in its arsenal.  On the other hand a teacher's strike is a very fast way for the union to lose any public support they have.

Will it happen?  Only time will tell.  But an environment where funding cuts to the system are almost certain (even though the province is growing rapidly and the demands on the system are already stretching it severely) and the minister is issuing (barely) veiled threats to the union does not lend itself to a quick settlement.

It should be an interesting spring.....

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