Contract talks stall for teachers’ union

‘It feels as if they’ve given up,’ NLTA president

James McLeod
Published on March 6, 2014

It’s not looking good for the negotiations between the province’s teachers union and the government. Negotiations aren’t quite dead, but they’re not far off.

“It feels as if they’ve given up,” said Newfoundland and Labrador  Teachers’ Association president James Dinn. “It’s almost like they’ve lost the will to live, but I hope that’s not the case.”

Dinn was complaining this week because the teachers’ last contract expired in August 2012, and a year and a half later, they still haven’t been able to talk about monetary issues with the provincial government’s negotiating team.

In an update on bargaining to the union membership in late February, Dinn said the government seemed to be negotiating in bad faith, and stalling.

A strike or any other sort of job action is still a long way off, but negotiations have broken off, and there’s no plan to head back to the negotiating table.

The provincial government’s Department of Finance, which handles negotiations, refused to comment on ongoing negotiations.

Dinn said back in the summer, when Jerome Kennedy was finance minister, there was a real sense that the government wanted to get a deal done.

But since then, Tom Marshall became finance minister when Kennedy retired, and then Charlene Johnson became finance minister when Marshall took over as interim-premier.

Dinn said as negotiators from the union have met with representatives from the government, they couldn’t touch money issues.

“We realize there’s give and take in all negotiations. We just haven’t had the opportunity to proceed down that road,” he said.

“Their hands are somewhat tied by their political masters.”

What happens next isn’t really clear, but Dinn is thinking that conciliation may be the answer.

“If this is not working, it’s pointless for us to go back to the table, bring our team in and take them away from their classes if we’re going to sit around and rehash items that we’ve already talked about,” he said.

“We’re going to look at all options, and conciliation, that may be the road we have to go down.”

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