Member Services and Teacher Welfare merged to form Teacher Employment Services
The Alberta Teachers’ Association is merging the Member Services and Teacher Welfare program areas on Sept. 1, 2020, as part of a restructuring being described as the most significant reorganization at the ATA in more than 30 years. The new program area, Teacher Employment Services (TES), will serve as a one-stop shop for teachers looking for advice and assistance related to their work life.
The transition will also see the full integration of the Association’s professional discipline functions under the Government program area.
“This reorganization is intended not merely to maintain service in the face of increasing demand and external changes, but to enhance service to members,” said ATA executive secretary Dennis Theobald. “From the individual member’s perspective, the distinction between Teacher Welfare and Member Services can be obscure and create a barrier to service. For the vast majority of concerns, members will no longer have to puzzle out who in what program area they need to talk to.”
Generally speaking, matters related to collective agreements, human rights and labour relations used to be handled by Teacher Welfare, whereas matters related to contracts of employment, the Education Act and other legislation were handled by Member Services. Increasingly, issues faced by members did not fall into neat categories, and the advice and assistance needed could require multiple avenues of consideration.
Robert Mazzotta, the Association’s current co-ordinator of Member Services, will become the co-ordinator of the new combined program area. Sean Brown has been appointed to the role of associate co-ordinator, collective bargaining, to oversee collective bargaining functions within the TES program area, and Tim Jeffares has been appointed associate co-ordinator, professional discipline, to oversee discipline functions within the Government program area.
“This is an exciting change for our staff, and I look forward to bringing this new team together,” Mazzotta said. “The origins of this change come from asking ourselves, ‘how can we serve members better,’ and while there will be new challenges for our staff, this will enhance flexibility and responsiveness, and serving members is ultimately why we got into this work.”
Additionally, new committee structures supporting the work of collective bargaining will also be implemented in the fall. A new Bargaining Advisory Committee will bring together one representative from each Association bargaining unit to enhance the amount of local feedback being provided to the Association’s Central Table Bargaining Committee. Some executive staff officers in the TES program area will continue to serve as representatives of the bargaining agent to support local bargaining.
This reorganization was approved by Provincial Executive Council in June and implementation will continue through the 2020/21 school year. Some functions and structures will continue to be separate through the year ahead, but it is anticipated that structural changes will be completed in time for a unified program area budget to be presented to ARA in 2021. ❚