Members of Edmonton Public Teachers Local Number 37 have voted in favour of the most recent employment offer from Edmonton Public Schools, thereby averting a strike. The vote was on Sunday afternoon, where over 1,600 members of the union met at the Edmonton Expo Centre in -37°C temperatures to cast their votes.
“We’re very pleased to find a solution that settles many key issues for teachers, including calendar development, off-schedule compensation, substitute teacher professional development, and the working conditions of online teachers. I’m proud of our members for taking the principled and courageous stand in support of their colleagues which resulted in this achievement,” Heather Quinn, the president of Edmonton Public Teachers Local 37 stated in a news release.
Previously, in mid-December, the local had overwhelmingly voted against a mediated agreement, which prompted the union to set a strike vote date in early 2024. “A strike is always a last resort, but teachers felt they had no other options available. The resolve of teachers to send a clear message to the board was needed to pressure the board to listen to teachers’ concerns,” Quinn remarked.
The vote on Sunday resulted in 95.6 percent of members voting in favour of the offer. The Edmonton Public School Division is scheduled to vote on ratifying the agreement on January 23.
Collective bargaining for teachers in Alberta involves a two-phase process. Initially, matters of significant cost and broad impact are negotiated at a central table. This is followed by local negotiations between individual school divisions and Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) bargaining units on more locally specific matters. Teachers in the Edmonton Public have been working without a finalized collective agreement since September 2020, the news release said.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional association of teachers in Alberta, acts as the bargaining agent for all teachers employed in public, separate, and francophone school divisions. The Edmonton School Division employs approximately 7,000 contracted and substitute teachers in public schools in Edmonton.