Sask. post-secondary institutions voice support for STF, job action

Troy Fleece/Regina Leader-Post. Britt Hall, president of the University of Regina Faculty Association, speaks at the Legislative Building on Thursday, March 9, 2023 in Regina.

While three post-secondary associations sound off in support, members are not contractually permitted to participate in job action.

Angela Amato, Regina Leader-Post

Three post-secondary faculty associations spoke out Monday in support of teachers’ job action over the last eight weeks as negotiations between the province and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) remain stagnant.

“We come together because we have the same interest in protecting education in Saskatchewan,” said University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) president Britt Hall during a virtual press conference.

“My children, along with all of today’s K to 12 students, are tomorrow’s university students, and we know just how important it is that students get the support they need to succeed from the moment they show up in kindergarten to the moment they graduate from post-secondary institutions.”

URFA, along with the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association (USFA) and Saskatchewan Polytechnic Faculty Association (SPFA), called on the province for strong investments in public education and support for educators and students.

“The systemic underfunding of public education at all levels in our province is shameful,” said Hall. “Teachers in the K to 12 system tell us they are continually asked to do more with less, and we see the same thing in post-secondary as public funding falls farther behind each year.”

While the three associations are vocalizing their support for more funding, members are not contractually permitted to participate in the job action.

“We are encouraging our members, and we hear from our members, that they want to support the STF job action in whatever way they can,” said Hall, adding that URFA members have gone to the picket lines and have expressed solidarity in other ways.

USFA and SPFA representatives echoed Hall’s comments, saying they’ve notified their members and continue to support the STF in forms that don’t breach their contracts.

With job action entering its ninth week, STF president Samantha Becotte said the union will continue to escalate sanctions until the province agrees to commit including language and funding related to classroom composition and complexity in the collective agreement.

“If they would just be willing to put both of those things within the collective bargaining process, it would provide us with an opportunity to get back to the table and we could likely resolve the dispute relatively quickly,” she said Monday.

“While the government says they don’t think it belongs in a collective agreement, half of the provinces in Canada have made agreements with their respective teacher organizations.”

The government continues to argue that doing so would restrict school divisions from making decisions at a local level and insists on addressing classroom composition and complexity through other means. Last week, it announced the education portion of the upcoming budget, including an $180-million bump in funding, as well as a four-year funding agreement with the school boards association.

On Monday, the STF announced another one-day rotating withdrawal of noon-hour supervision to take place Thursday. The withdrawal will take place at all schools in the following divisions: Conseil des écoles fransaskoise, Chinook, Holy Family Catholic, North East, Prairie Spirit, Regina Catholic, Regina Public Schools, Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic.