Sask. Teachers' Federation returns to bargaining table after board appointments

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The Ministry of Education has confirmed the members of the Educational Relations Board, the same day the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) cancelled collective bargaining over the issue.

The issue had been a sticking point with the federation for months. Earlier on Wednesday, the group, which represents 13,000 teachers across the province, ended bargaining talks with the province.

"We're excited that the appointments were made," said federation president Patrick Maze. "We look forward to resuming bargaining soon."

The board, which has the authority to arbitrate disputes, settle grievances and authorize mediation in education contract disputes, had been vacant since this spring.

Maze wouldn't speculate on whether the threat of cancelling collective bargaining affected the province's decision.

"It would certainly appear that way, but at the same time, I'm not going to predict what government's motivation was," he said. "They had these appointments in front of them for a long time, and eventually got to the right place."

The STF also launched a lawsuit earlier this month demanding that the province appoint new members to the board. Now that the appointments have been made, Maze said the lawsuit will be dropped.

In February, the STF nominated Shirley Humphries and Shelly Tootoosis to the board. Janet Kotylak and David Thompson were nominated by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association in March.

Both teachers and school boards jointly nominated former Edwards School of Business dean Daphne Taras as the board chair.

Teachers have been without a contract since the end of August.