Sask. Teachers' Federation discussing binding arbitration with members

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation says it is consulting with its members about whether to enter into binding arbitration with the government. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) says it is consulting its members about whether it should enter into binding arbitration with the provincial government.

"The consultation with teachers focuses on two possible paths forward, one of which involves the use of binding arbitration to resolve two outstanding issues: class complexity-accountability framework and teachers' wages," the STF said in a news release.

The STF said additional information would not be available while the member consultation was taking place, but that it would share more information on the future of the collective bargaining process on Friday.

On Monday, teachers began provincewide work-to-rule, withdrawing from voluntary services including extracurricular activities and noon-hour supervision.

That came after teachers voted last month to reject a tentative agreement with the government that included a salary increase of eight per cent over three years and a proposed task force on classroom complexity. The agreement did not include language about class size, a key point for teachers.

Teachers have been engaging in various job action since January as the two sides negotiate a new contract. The STF represents about 13,000 teachers across the province and they have been without a contract since August 2023.

Earlier this year, teachers had called for binding arbitration, a process where an agreed-upon third-party mediator comes to a legally binding decision.

In its news release Wednesday, the STF said that when it called for binding arbitration in March, it was on the single issue of class size and complexity, which the government rejected. Then when the government offered binding arbitration earlier this month, it was "on the issues of wages and the accountability framework," which teachers rejected, "as it did not include class complexity."

"On June 8, [the government's] offer was revised to include a class complexity-accountability framework as well as wages," the STF news release said.

The Saskatchewan government said that no new offers are on the table.

"There is no new binding arbitration offer. Government has and continues to offer binding arbitration on matters of wages and an accountability framework/classroom supports," the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

CBC spoke with both the STF and the ministry to clarify and they both reiterated their statements.