Teachers willing to strike
No dates yet for possible Catholic board teachers' action

by Mark Sproxton
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 07/97) - Teachers with the Yellowknife Catholic School Board voted Friday to strike if an "acceptable" contract cannot be reached.

The NWT Teachers' Association has been negotiating with the school board since the last collective agreement expired June 30, 1996.

The percentage voting in favor of strike action will not be released, said Pat Thomas, president of the association. "We feel it was very decisive," she said.

Details of the board's contract offer are under a media blackout while negotiations continue, Thomas said.

But a media release from her association said the teachers are being asked to take reductions while student-teacher ratios are increasing and working conditions are declining.

No timeline could be given on when the teachers might walk off the job because it depends on what happens in conciliation, Thomas added.

Loretta Foley, superintendent of the Yellowknife Catholic School Board, refused to comment on the negotiations.

In mid-March the school board asked for a federal conciliator to intervene in the process. The parties have met with the conciliator and now await the report from those meetings.

"Then we'll examine our options," Thomas said.

Teachers with the Catholic board have never gone on strike.

Meanwhile, the teachers' association is also in the process of negotiating a new contract for the teachers of Yellowknife Education District No. 1.

The association has three separate bodies it represents. The third group is comprised of the 1,000 teachers working outside of Yellowknife.

That group recently rejected their final contract offer from the territorial government. The issue will be dealt with in court June 3 and 4.