My collective agreement expires August 31. Now What?

June 12, 2012

As a service to members, the ATA’s Teacher Welfare program area has prepared a series of articles to assist members during the current bargaining process. The following articles published in the ATA News to date are posted online (www.teachers.ab.ca):

Teachers’ collective agreements with the province’s public ­education school boards expire August 31, 2012.

Your negotiating subcommittee (NSC) has been meeting with your employer’s committee over the past few weeks to begin the negotiation process—a process that takes time and is not concluded quickly.

During this round of bargaining, initial proposals are comprehensive, as teachers have not discussed issues with their employers for more than four years. As a result, it could take many meetings for progress to be made toward a settlement. Provided that notice was served within the time allotted in the collective agreement, the continuation clause will ensure that it remains in effect after September 1, 2012. The continuation clause extends the existing agreement until either a new agreement is reached or a strike or lockout commences. This means your salary, benefits, leaves and all other provisions continue, but there is no salary increase. However, teachers who are still climbing the salary grid will normally receive an increment. The Alberta Average Weekly Earnings (AAWE) clause does not continue.

A number of agreements have clauses that specifically expire in 2012—Calgary Public, Edmonton Public, Rocky View and Red Deer Catholic. These particular clauses limit the instruction time that can be assigned to teachers. Because these clauses have an exact expiration (sunset) date, they are not covered under the continuation clause. Therefore, for the 2012/13 school year, a school board could assign as many hours of instruction as it sees fit. These boards were invited to state their staffing intentions for next year, and while some have opted to continue assigning as if the clause were still in effect; others have opened the door to increasing instructional time. This decision by boards may affect the pace of negotiations.

Finally, when an agreement is reached, some amendments will be retroactive to September 1, 2012. Teachers have always insisted on retroactive salary adjustments so as not to benefit some employers for delaying the bargaining process. Other issues, such as changing notice requirements for personal leave, can be more difficult to impose retroactively and, therefore, take effect the month following the new agreement.

If you have any questions about what benefits and protections you will have in September 2012, contact your local Economic Policy Committee member or ATA Teacher Welfare staff at Barnett House, in Edmonton.