The general meeting is the parliament of the local. The business of the general meeting normally includes local policy, election of officers and consideration of reports from the executive and standing committees. The agenda for local meetings and all reports should be distributed to members prior to the meeting and form part of the official record for that meeting. In conducting the meeting, the president should observe the rules of order as contained in the Members’ Handbook. The order paper for the meeting and all procedures and arrangements are the responsibility of the executive.
The local council is responsible for administering the affairs of the local. This includes the appointment of committees and representatives on other committees or to other organizations. All committees should be responsible to the local council and should report directly to the council. The local council should be responsible for approving all activities and projects which come under the general policy provisions of the local association and the provincial Association.
In locals where no local council exists, the executive should assume the previously mentioned responsibilities. In addition, the executive committee should assume the administrative responsibilities of the local. These duties include preparing agendas for council and general meetings, exercising general supervision over the affairs of the local, preparing and transmitting necessary reports to the provincial Association and supervising the financial affairs of the local.
The local president has many responsibilities, which, if dealt with effectively, will do much to determine the success of the local’s operation. The president calls and presides at all regular and special meetings of the local and those of the council and executive committee.
As chair of these meetings the president should
• make sure that the meeting place is ready;
• have an agenda ready and know as much as possible about what is involved in each item;
• confer before the meeting with all officers and committee chairs who may have business for the meeting;
• begin and close the meeting on time;
• speak clearly and ensure that other speakers are heard by those present;
• enforce the rules of debate;
• preserve order and decorum;
• prevent unnecessary repetition or digression;
• tactfully interrupt a speaker who is out of order;
• be formal in order to keep proceedings businesslike, especially in general meetings;
• remain impartial in debate; and
• see that factual information is provided, if needed.
In addition to preparing for and chairing the meetings of the local, the president has the responsibility to supervise its overall operation. This supervisory function requires a leadership role in which the president is acquainted with the operations of committees and sublocals. In this context leadership can be exercised by
• initiating—keeping the organization active by challenging it with new ideas and by stimulating its members to action
(suggesting activities, pointing out goals, proposing procedures, clarifying issues);
• regulating—guiding the direction and rate of the organization’s activities (pointing out policy, time limits in problems, summarizing actions taken, restating goals, etc);
• informing—bringing information to the group or arranging for information to be brought to the group;
• supporting—creating the proper emotional climate in order to hold the organization together and making it easy for members to contribute and express new ideas (encouraging, relieving tension, voicing group feelings, etc); and
• evaluating—encouraging and assisting the organization to evaluate its decisions, goals and procedures.
Secretary and Treasurer
The local secretary is responsible for seeing that matters requiring local consideration are dealt with within the proper time frame. No matter what duties are specified in the local constitution, the secretary must assure that the procedures of the local enable it to handle its responsibilities in a timely manner.
The secretary is the local’s record keeper. The local’s records give evidence of the local’s activities. In addition to the local annual report, which must be submitted to the provincial association, the following records should be kept permanently:
• All meeting (ie local, executive, committee) minutes, agenda, reports, and materials considered at the meeting, including
• list of those in attendance and absent
• notation of the mover and seconder of every motion together with a summary of any attending discussion, to help future executive committees interpret the decisions
• the outcome of all motions (carried, lost) and
• full title of meeting and date in full on each page
• Constitution, by-laws, auditors’ reports, legal opinions, executive lists
• Local communications campaigns and notices of events sponsored by the local
Where records contain the personal information of members, the records must be secured either through physical means or through electronic encryption.
Central records, located at Barnett House, is available to receive, house, and archive locals’ records should locals choose to make use of the service. Contact can be made through the Information and Records Manager.
The treasurer is the chief financial officer of the local and an integral part of the executive committee. The four primary responsibilities of this office are to
• control financial resources of the local by continually monitoring the status of the resources,
• assume custody of the physical assets of the local,
• maintain financial records for the local and
• report on the financial condition of the local as required.
These responsibilities can best be fulfilled by becoming involved in the activities of the local, being aware of the services provided to locals by the provincial Association and by attending the training sessions for local treasurers. Specific duties of this position are generally outlined in the local constitution.
An ATA school representative should be selected in every school and in each central office of a school system. Although school representatives perform duties on behalf of the provincial Association, they are selected through locals and serve as staff representatives on local councils. This method of selection and their dual responsibility helps link communication between the provincial and local associations.
For the provincial Association, school representatives facilitate information flow and requests for assistance from members to the Association and provide a channel of communication to members. School representatives on local councils provide similar functions for the local association. In addition they represent their staffs in determining local policy and establishing local programs.
The local council and/or executive committees are elected by members and are responsible for conducting the affairs of the local and for making policy and administrative decisions within the frame of reference established by the provincial Association and the general policy established by the local’s general meetings. An effective way to administer many of the affairs of the local is through standing and ad hoc committees which are appointed or elected.
The major standing committees in most locals include the professional development committee and the economic policy committee. Ad hoc committees are appointed to perform specific tasks and are dissolved when the task has been completed.
When working through committees, the council and/or executive should
• establish the general policy and program for administering the affairs of the local,
• determine the type of standing and ad hoc committees necessary and desirable,
• appoint these committees and provide them with adequate terms of reference,
• establish a system of communications with committees and
• provide each committee with an adequate budget.
The responsibilities given to the Association in the Teaching Profession Act require effective communications programs at both provincial and local levels. Therefore, the local should
• appoint or elect a member who has the qualities and skills to serve for two or three years in the capacity of local communications officer;
• adopt a frame of reference for the communications committee of the local; and
• allocate sufficient money in the local budget for the approved program and operations of the communications officer and the communications committee.
Since constitutions vary between local associations, the communications officer is sometimes appointed, sometimes elected and may or may not be a member of the executive committee of the local. Regardless, the role of the communications officer should be viewed more as a service position rather than a political one. The purpose of the position is to help keep the members of the local and the community well informed of local events and to disseminate provincial information as well. The communications officer or members designated from the communications committee should therefore attend all committee and sub-committee meetings within the local and report to the membership on significant business transacted at those meetings.
The Association provides training every second year for communications officers at Summer Conference. A communications handbook is available for communications officers. Members of Association staff officers with expertise in communications are prepared to advise and assist communications officers and communications committees with planning and executing specific programs.
The suggested composition for a professional development committee is the chair, representatives from school staffs, sublocals or different levels of instruction, the superintendent or supervisor of instruction and a member from the principals’ association. Not more than one-third of the committee should retire each year so as to provide continuity and experience. Suggested responsibilities of the professional development committee are
• to coordinate professional development programs in the system;
• to disseminate information about activities;
• to ensure the PD frame of reference is current;
• to provide motivation for projects to sublocals, school staffs and other teacher groups;
• to provide assistance to sublocals, school staffs and other teacher groups;
• to organize and conduct necessary local-wide projects;
• to conduct studies or projects as requested by the local executive (for example, study teacher competencies);
• to cooperate with administrative and supervisory personnel of the school system in curriculum studies;
• to provide a written report annually to the local executive, the school authorities and the Association;
• to evaluate the overall program;
• to provide a program to equip school-based PD committees to plan and deliver a school-based PD program; and
• to provide the school board and the local with advice on educational programs and issues.
It is often necessary to delegate much of the work of the professional development committee to individuals and subcommittees. Adequate resources, time and appropriate terms of reference are essential for facilitating developmental and reporting functions assigned to individuals and subcommittees. Local executives should review periodically the effectiveness of their professional development organizational structure as illustrated in Figure 2.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association has responsibility by virtue of the Teaching Profession Act, the School Act and the Labour Relations Code for the processes concerned with the economic welfare of its members.
Bargaining procedures at the local level have been shaped by Association bylaws, policy and tradition. The provincial Association is the bargaining agent under the Labour Relations Code. A representative of the bargaining agent supports and assists elected negotiating subcommittees with collective bargaining in each bargaining unit. Collective agreements are between each school board and the Association, and gives the Association the duty of fair representation, which includes ensuring all members’ interests are respected both during negotiations and throughout the term of the agreement.
The bargaining unit is a group of Association members employed as teachers by a particular school board, on whose behalf a collective agreement may be negotiated. It should be noted that Association bargaining units do not always coincide with the organization of Association locals. Some locals have two or more bargaining units contained within their membership. It is the bargaining unit which initiates and conducts negotiations with its school board, assisted by the RBA.
Each bargaining unit’s economic policy committee should be chosen on the basis of competence and continuity. In the opinion of many experts, it requires five years of experience to develop an effective member of the economic policy committee at the local level.
It is the duty of the economic policy committee to study the labour and economic materials contained in various Association publications and elsewhere, survey members and subgroups and to draw up recommendations for changes in the collective agreement for the consideration of the bargaining unit. A majority vote of those present at a properly called meeting of the bargaining unit is required before these recommendations are adopted as official bargaining unit policy or opening proposals.
From the economic policy committee there should be established a negotiating subcommittee of preferably not more than three members. The personnel of this subcommittee should be selected with the utmost care, because in the final analysis the whole success of the Association’s efforts in respect of a particular bargaining unit turns on the ability and acceptability of the individual members of this subcommittee. In addition to the possession of skills and experience, members of this subcommittee must command the respect of the board and community.
The structure of the economic policy and negotiating subcommittees within the local structure is shown in Figure 3.