Wednesday September 17, 2014

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Keess stripped of STF powers

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Colin Keess

Colin Keess has been stripped of his duties as president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF), and is now the STF's president in name only.

Keess, a long-time educator and a former principal at the Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS), has been the STF's president since 2012. He was elected to a one-year term as president in May of that year, and was re-elected in 2013 and 2014.

After his most recent election, he said he was looking forward to addressing several lingering issues facing teachers in Saskatchewan, including the lack of a collective bargaining agreement for the province's teachers.

Saskatchewan teachers have twice rejected collective bargaining agreements reached by the provincial government and the STF's bargaining committee.  

The STF's executive passed a motion of non-confidence in Keyes on June 19, citing recent conduct in his role as president. They did not cite the rejected contracts as a reason for the non-confidence motion.

The executive's decision was made public earlier this month.

"Subsequent to the motion of non-confidence, the executive has explored options for resolution of this matter with Mr. Keess," the STF said in a press release.

The STF also noted that a letter was hand delivered to Keess on June 23, communicating its non-confidence motion to him, and offering him options to resolve the matter internally.

Then on August 1, the STF's executive passed another motion, removing Keess' duties and responsibilities as president. He will no longer be able to act as a signing authority for the federation.

Also, the STF said Keess is not authorized to speak on behalf of the federation or have contact with local association leaders and/or members of the STF's council.

"By August 1, it was clear that Mr. Keess would refuse to accept our decision and the options provided to him, so we were forced to pass an additional motion, stripping him of his powers and authority, because he was proposing to act in defiance of the decision made in good faith by the rest of the executive," the STF said.

Keess was not available for comment, but has stated publicly that he doesn't know why this action was taken by the STF. He has also hired legal counsel to handle the issue.

The STF countered by saying that Keess has been made aware of the basis of the motion of non-confidence. A further meeting has been scheduled for Keess to meet with the executive.

"STF executive members are expected to abide by the established principles of executive conduct and policies," the STF said.

Keess has been on a leave of absence from ECS while serving as president of the STF. He has previously stated that he won't be returning to teaching once his tenure as STF president is finished.


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