Yesterday, thousands of teachers represented by the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union voted to reject the tentative agreement that was recommended to them by their bargaining committee and leadership. This agreement was virtually identical to the agreement your bargaining committee grudgingly recommended to you: it contains the same wage patterns, and the discontinuance of the long-service award. There are no significant improvements, but you would maintain a crucial job security provision that currently exists as a Memorandum of Agreement.
Your bargaining committee reluctantly made the decision to recommend this tentative agreement to you, the membership, because:
- We expected teachers were going to ratify their agreement, thereby establishing a wage pattern for the entire public sector;
- Trusted sources inside government advised us that legislation that would impose a far worse collective agreement upon you had already been prepared, and would be passed if the committee refused to recommend acceptance of the tentative agreement;
However, that situation has changed: teachers have rejected the agreement, and the Premier publicly made statements denying legislation was prepared:
Meanwhile on Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil denied contracts would be forced on anyone.
“There’s not been legislation that’s been reported that we were going to force a wage pattern on people,” McNeil said.
“I won’t say we didn’t look at that at one point. It’s not something we had contemplated doing. I mean every government including the former New Democratic government looked at all of their options,” he said.
“Was I legislating a wage pattern? No, I wasn’t.”
Based on this, I decided the best course of action would be to meet again with your bargaining committee to reevaluate our options.
However, the government seems to feel it is incumbent upon them to decide when you will vote on their tentative agreement. They sent us a letter on Wednesday afternoon, essentially threatening that if we do not take the agreement to the membership for a vote by the end of the weekend, they would rescind their offer.
This type of behaviour is unacceptable and, quite honestly, childish.
I have arranged emergency conference calls with your bargaining committee tomorrow to discuss our path forward and will share next steps with you as soon as possible.
I appreciate the patience you have shown during this process.