| Peter MacKay, Central Table Bargaining Committee chair
Teachers will have their say on the ATA’s opening bargaining position as negotiation preparation ramps up this fall.
The ATA’s Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC) is preparing a draft initial proposal that will be put out to members in mid-September for feedback. An interactive telephone townhall and a large-scale webcast will be among the tools used to inform members about the draft proposal and solicit direction from teachers.
This activity will follow the anticipated conclusion of an arbitration case related to the bargaining lists and will mark the beginning stages of central table bargaining that’s expected to begin in late September or early October.
Teachers have been working without a collective agreement since September 2020; negotiations have been slow to progress as a result of significant pandemic-related delays followed by an arbitration case to settle list bargaining.
This most recent delay occurred when CTBC and the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) could not agree on the final lists of items to be bargained centrally versus locally. A final decision from the arbitrator on the list is expected in late August, said Peter MacKay, chair of CTBC and district representative for northwest Alberta.
Following the arbitration decision, CTBC will ask teachers to review the draft proposal and provide feedback to their local teacher welfare committees.
“We sincerely thank all those who have completed the surveys, participated in discussion groups or responded to other inquiries, as this feedback is critical to the development of our proposal,” MacKay said.
“We bargain for teachers, we take our direction from teachers and we strongly encourage teachers to participate in the telephone townhall and give their feedback.”
Teacher Welfare Committee chairs will form a Bargaining Advisory Committee (BAC) that will meet prior to the approval of the final opening position, which Provincial Executive Council will then approve before it is presented to TEBA in negotiations.
Although the pandemic has slowed the bargaining process, MacKay expects the process to move more quickly as the new school year advances. When asked how he thinks teachers are feeling about bargaining, MacKay summed it up in one word: anxiety.
“Unfortunately, pandemic-related stresses are still with us, so the commencement of central table bargaining may add to that anxiety,” he said.
For insight into how bargaining could go, MacKay encourages teachers to look to other public sector unions that are currently engaged in negotiations.
“Looking at how things have gone for the rest of the public sector – especially the nurses – we expect a difficult round of negotiations,” he said. “Teachers should take note of the nurses’ experience and how their members have mobilized in response: their present may become our future. We’ll likely need our teachers to step up and make themselves heard in the months to come.” ❚
Three-phase bargaining model
Collective bargaining for teachers in Alberta has three phases. Phase one, list bargaining, is where the parties agree on which items will be discussed centrally and which items will be discussed at local bargaining tables. Phase two involves bargaining on those matters that have been assigned to the central table, and phase three is where the remaining items are bargained at each of the 61 local tables.
To follow the bargaining progress
View updates: www.teachers.ab.ca > My ATA > Bargaining Updates
Subscribe to email updates: www.teachers.ab.ca > My ATA > Members Only > Members’ Update Signup
Anyone who wants more information about any of these items is encouraged to speak to their local Teacher Welfare Committee (TWC) representative.