A letter from ATA president Mark Ramsankar
April 26, 2017
For many years our Association has urged the Government of Alberta to create a fair and free collective bargaining process that brings the government, as the funder of education, to the table. We knew it would be difficult to address many long-standing issues related to teachers’ conditions of practice until we had a clear and balanced process to discuss those issues with the government and school boards together.
Thanks to the 2015 Public Education Collective Bargaining Act, we finally had the opportunity to have these discussions. As a result, we have been able to achieve some very important improvements to those conditions of practice. The foundation of these achievements will continue to position us well into the future.
The memorandum of agreement reached between the Association’s Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC) and the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) proposes that teachers in every single school jurisdiction across the province will enjoy the benefits of clear and enforceable standards for instructional and assignable time, whether they teach in Calgary, Camrose, Coronation or Cardston. In addition, an investment of $75 million will be made in classrooms across this province to improve the learning conditions for students and the conditions of practice for teachers.
I feel confident in saying that the concerns of teachers were heard, considered and addressed in the development of this memorandum of agreement.
The state of Alberta’s economy combined with the government’s financial position caused them to hold firm on compensation. I understand that this will be disappointing, but there are no increases to teacher salary rates in this agreement. I trust, however, that you will see the value offered in this agreement for its ability to improve teachers’ conditions of practice and address other issues raised by the membership.
The term of this agreement will see us back at the bargaining table very soon. We will take the opportunity to continue to discuss issues important to teachers, including teacher compensation, benefits and conditions of practice. I hope that the context of an improved economy will guide those talks.
For now we have an agreement before us that I believe achieves significant gains for teachers. This memorandum introduces important language in most agreements that we have never had before, and we will now be able to build on these gains in the years ahead. This agreement takes many of the advantages enjoyed now by some teachers and extends them to all. For teachers in many bargaining units, long-sought improvements have been realized through central bargaining that would not otherwise have been achievable through local collective bargaining. I remind you, in bargaining, progress is incremental, and this agreement creates a foundation for further improvements. It is always the beginning of the story, never the end.
I would like to thank vice-president Greg Jeffery, executive staff and all of the members of our Central Table Bargaining Committee for their hard work, effort and time on this file. I know they had the best interests of Alberta teachers in their minds, and our voice was carried to the table.
Colleagues, now it is your time. I strongly encourage you to attend one of the upcoming member information meetings to ask questions and learn more about the memorandum of agreement and how it will affect your collective agreement. I will also encourage you to get online and vote! It is your collective agreement, and all Alberta teachers have this opportunity to decide.
Provincial Executive Council has reviewed the full details of the memorandum and agreed to recommend it to members. I hope that you will vote to support it when the online ratification vote is held from May 11 to 14.
H Mark Ramsankar