The Teaching Profession Act, which in 1935 established The Alberta Teachers’ Association as a body "corporate and politic," empowered the Association to pass bylaws concerning "the formation, government, management and dissolution of local associations." Fifty-five regular and 13 student locals and one special local now operate under the provisions of General Bylaws 13 to 23 inclusive.
The bylaws provide for the formation of locals and regulate some of their activities. Application for local status may be made by not fewer than 100 active members. The Provincial Executive Council may approve the application and must approve the constitution if local status is granted. The local must have an executive committee composed of a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer and such other officers as required by its constitution. The duties of the officers are specified in the constitution. Local representatives to the Annual Representative Assembly are elected according to the constitution and they are required to attend all regular or special meetings of the Assembly. Local constitutions take effect only after ratification by the Provincial Executive Council. Locals must hold at least one general meeting per year and are required to convene a general meeting, local council meeting or executive committee meeting at the request of their district representative or an officer of the Association. Annual reports are required and provision is made for determining electoral votes.
The 55 regular locals vary in membership, geographic coverage and in other ways such that two standard constitutions have been approved. One of these provides for a local council organization and the other for a sublocal structure. Some locals adopt a constitution providing for both. The basic standard constitutions and standard sublocal constitution are printed at the end of this chapter.
Locals are established to promote the objects of the Association. A general but brief statement of objects appears in section 4 of the Teaching Profession Act. The purposes of the Association and hence of its locals are to advance and promote the cause of education in the province, to improve the teaching profession, to arouse and increase public interest in education and to cooperate with other organizations having similar aims. Locals pursue these objects, keeping in mind the needs of their own members.
A more detailed statement of objectives is contained in the Association’s policy and current directives. Long-range policy and current directives on a variety of topics form guidelines for both local and provincial Association programs.
Locals have always undertaken major responsibilities such as
• choosing delegates to attend the Annual Representative Assembly;
• submitting resolutions to the Annual Representative Assembly;
• naming representatives to the convention committee and assisting with the annual teacher convention;
• supervising the activities of sublocals of the local association;
• conducting inservice and professional development activities;
• cooperating with school boards in planning educational programs and
• ensuring each bargaining unit within the local geographic boundaries has an economic policy committee which conducts negotiations and liaises with the local.
The 1968 Annual Representative Assembly formally recognized additional local responsibilities. These are
• providing a forum or platform for originating and discussing ideas (for example, initiating policy resolutions);
• providing machinery for listening to teachers, that is, securing majority opinion;
• providing machinery for speaking for teachers, that is, expressing teachers’ opinion;
• making representations at the local level about the concerns of teachers;
• providing machinery for facilitating professional development of teachers by
• appointing a committee,
• establishing a budget,
• ensuring that the professional development program is carried on and
• acting on reports from committees.
• developing an effective program in communications by appointing or electing a local communications officer with a committee to assist in implementing the program;
• facilitating teacher attendance at conferences, courses and seminars by representations to the board to adopt as policy that teachers selected by and reporting to the local (or parts thereof) be given time off and expenses to attend such conferences;
• inducting new members into the profession;
• honouring members of the profession, for example, on retirement, by a social event and gift;
• appointing observers to attend all school board meetings; and
• carrying on other well-known functions of a local association (for example, public relations).
Functions of professional development committees are
• motivating and stimulating,
• providing resources,
• informing members of new developments,
• providing liaison with administration,
• providing liaison with specialist councils,
• recommending names to the local for convention representatives,
• preparing publications and newsletters and
• working on curriculum revision.
Functions of economic policy committees are
• developing economic policy for members employed by the school systems within the geographic boundaries of the local,
• conducting negotiations with the school jurisdiction,
• monitoring and enforcing the provisions of the collective agreement and
• ensuring members are aware of rights and entitlements.
The formal structure and responsibilities of a local association merely provide the foundations and the framework for its operation. The effectiveness of a local is determined by how its members, especially the executive and its committees, perform their functions. The sections that follow contain suggestions which are designed to assist local associations to operate effectively.