With teachers having ratified a two-year central table agreement proposed by a mediator, preparations are underway for binding salary arbitration that will take place in the coming months.
The ATA’s Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC) has begun work on its arguments supporting a salary increase, drawing upon statistics such as the cost of living, Alberta’s gross domestic product and other economic data, said Sandra Johnston, co-ordinator of the Teacher Welfare program area of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
“After May 1, we can provide notice to the Teacher Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) to commence the arbitration process for salary,” Johnston said. “We have started doing that research and working with legal counsel to determine who our nominee would be at the tribunal.”
In early April, Alberta teachers voted 78 per cent in favour of the agreement, which stipulates that salary increases will be determined through a binding arbitration process.
The arbitration tribunal will consist of three arbitrators: one selected by CTBC, one by TEBA and a third agreed upon by both parties. Salary arbitration must be completed by the end of September, and any increases will be retroactive to April 1, 2019.
Need to keep pushing
The agreement brings greater consistency among collective agreements across the province and includes improvements to health benefits, maternity leave, administrator allowances, substitute teacher pay and other areas for teachers who lagged behind their colleagues working elsewhere, wrote CTBC chair Jason Schilling in his latest Bargainer’s Blog.
He acknowledged that he was disappointed that the agreement didn’t address the two major issues of classroom size and supports for inclusion.
“I know that many were disappointed in the inability to get movement on important classroom condition factors,” Schilling wrote. “We must not give up on this important fight. We must make this an even bigger political issue.”
“We saw a significant increase in turnout over the last ratification vote,” Schilling added, “and we need to continue to increase that engagement as we move forward, pushing for improvements that students and teachers need.”
The previous central agreement expired Aug. 31, 2018, and negotiations for a new agreement began on Sept. 10. Talks broke down in December, and the CTBC applied for a government- appointed mediator, who released recommendations in early March.
The ratification of the central agreement also sets in motion the third phase of the bargaining process. Bargaining units have 60 days from ratification to open local bargaining. In this phase, the 61 bargaining units will meet with their respective employers to negotiate issues specific to their jurisdiction.
“Our local Teacher Welfare Committees in each bargaining unit are busy surveying members and putting together their initial proposal,” Johnston said. “Wellness spending accounts are going to be the big one in this round.”
Aside from the salary component, all new local agreements will be retroactive to Sept. 1, 2018. ❚
The following bargaining units are still negotiating their 2016–18 contracts, which will, in effect, already be expired when ratified.
- Conseil scolaire FrancoSud
- Conseil scolaire Centre-Est
- Conseil scolaire Centre-Nord
- Horizon School Division
- Canadian Rockies RD