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Sask. Teachers' Federation agrees to binding arbitration to end contract dispute


The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) has agreed to binding arbitration with the province, which will put an end to current “work to rule” job action and a contract dispute that has dragged out more than a year.

STF president Samantha Becotte announced the update in a virtual media availability on Friday afternoon.

“This decision to participate in binding arbitration is a direct result of securing a written communication from the GTBC [Government Trustee Bargaining Committee] that classroom complexity would be within the scope of arbitration,” she said. 

Binding arbitration includes a neutral third party joining negotiations and listening to proposals from both sides before making a decision on the best path forward to end the contract stalemate.

Job action will end on Friday at 4 p.m. and there will be no further sanctions imposed, according to Becotte.

Becotte said while it is unfortunate that they could not reach an agreement at the bargaining table, the joint submission for binding arbitration provides an opportunity for progress on classroom complexity.

“I wish to thank teachers for their solidarity, adaptability and commitment to our shared goals. It has been a challenging school year. Teachers have always put the needs of all of their current students and future students first. Their support and strength have inspired us through this bargaining process,” she said.

Over the last five days, the STF held several meetings to consult with members, and had a survey to gauge the interest of members.

“Their voice in this process has been so important to us and they provided us with great feedback through that process, and so we did do an informal survey, and the feedback that we received from members was in support of moving to binding arbitration,” she said.

According to the STF, about three quarters of teachers who took part in a survey were in favour of binding arbitration.

The STF declined the province’s latest offer for binding arbitration and declared a bargaining impasse on June 5. Sask. teachers had first suggested binding arbitration in March, which was declined by the province.

In a statement, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill said he is pleased that teachers in Saskatchewan directed STF leadership to agree to binding arbitration.

“Binding arbitration will provide predictability in the lives of students, families, and teachers as the school year comes to an end, all while allowing for a path to the finalization of a new provincial collective agreement,” the statement read.

“Once again, I would like to thank families, students, and teachers for their patience throughout this process.”

The next step of the process will be to jointly select an arbitrator. The TBC and the GTBC would select their own representative to sit within the panel.

The bargaining committees would prepare their submission to the arbitration panel and depending on availability of the arbitrator and panel members, they will meet to present the submissions.

“Then there would be a ruling that comes from that. It's uncertain in terms of exactly what the timeline for arbitration could look like, because a lot of it is dependent on the availability of those professionals that sit on the arbitration panel, as well as the actual arbitrator that is selected,” Becotte explained. 

After declaring an impasse, teachers across Saskatchewan began “work to rule” job sanctions on June 10.

On June 12, the STF said they were consulting with its members on paths forward for negotiation, which included binding arbitration to resolve issues of class size complexity and wages.

A vote held on May 29 and 30 brought out 88 per cent of STF members. The agreement, which was endorsed by STF leadership, was ultimately rejected by 55 per cent of those who voted. 

Initial bargaining between the province and STF began in May of 2023, with teachers’ last contract expiring in August of 2023.

- With files from David Prisciak and Drew Postey. Top Stories

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