Mediation seems to be the word of the day with respect to those ATA bargaining units that are still negotiating local agreements. To date, there remain a half-dozen units that are so far behind in hammering out their individual collective agreements that they will, in effect, be expired at the time of ratification.
Currently, the outstanding bargaining units are
• Canadian Rockies Regional Division No. 12,
• Conseil scolaire Centre-Est No. 3,
• Conseil scolaire Centre-Nord No. 2,
• Conseil scolaire FrancoSud No. 4,
• Horizon school Division No. 67 and
• Red Deer Catholic Regional Division No. 39.
FrancoSud is the only unit that is bargaining with its school jurisdiction without a mediator. The remaining five find themselves in various stages of government-appointed mediation, with one unit floating the possibility of a strike authorization vote, said Chris Gibbon, an executive staff officer with the ATA’s Teacher Welfare program area.
“While the specifics for each bargaining unit differ, local negotiation subcommittees with their representative bargaining agents are working hard to achieve agreements to take back to their memberships,” Gibbon said.
The ATA currently has a complaint filed with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) against the Canadian Rockies division. The complaint alleges “interference with the administration of the ATA” and “interference with the representation of its members.” The labour relations board has not yet set a hearing date, and while both sides wait for a decision, a third day of mediation is planned for March 8.
A similar complaint was filed against the Red Deer Catholic region last year. That hearing took place in December, with a ruling in the Association’s favour. The Red Deer Catholic bargaining unit has already had five days of mediation, prompting a memo to its membership stating that, depending on the outcome of further mediation, a strike authorization vote may be held like the one taken in December by teachers with St. Paul Education Regional Division No. 1.
St. Paul teachers did not take an actual strike vote, but instead reached a memorandum of agreement that was ratified in early February.
Mediation between Horizon School Division No. 67 and its school jurisdiction continues to move slowly. The snag is trying to find mutually agreeable dates to meet with the mediator, Gibbon said.
Gibbon’s colleague Fred Kreiner, also a Teacher Welfare executive staff officer, is handling the francophone divisions. He says the FrancoSud division got off to a rocky start when representatives of the school jurisdiction insisted on bargaining in English. CS FrancoSud saw further delays due to each party filing complaints against the other with the ALRB. Those complaints have not yet been resolved but bargaining continues — in French.
For the two other francophone bargaining units, the greatest challenge is finding dates to meet with the school jurisdiction and mediator, Kreiner said. ❚