Can you explain the new bargaining process?
The Public Education Collective Bargaining Act, enacted December 2015, established bi-level bargaining for teachers — a new process by which some matters are negotiated at a central table and others at local tables.
Under this system, the Alberta Teachers’ Association established the Central Table Bargaining Committee to negotiate on teachers’ behalf, with the employer side represented by the Teacher Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA), which includes members from government and school boards.
In May 2016, the two sides finalized two lists outlining which matters would be bargained centrally and which were eligible for local negotiations. Since then, negotiations have focused on the central list, and this memorandum is an agreement on those items only.
If and when this agreement is ratified by both sides, it will form the basis for the 61 collective agreements between the ATA and school boards, and local bargaining can then begin.
What role do I have in this process?
First, find out what is contained in the memorandum of agreement. Attend a Member Information Meeting (MIM), read the material and discuss the document. Every teacher will be able to vote on whether to accept or reject the agreement.
What is a MIM and why are we being invited to one?
Member Information Meetings (MIMs) are called when information is relevant to all members, not just those in a specific bargaining unit. We are inviting all members to attend their nearest or most convenient MIM to ensure that all members get the correct information in order to make an informed decision regarding the proposed memorandum of agreement.
Why are we having MIMs instead of Bargain Unit General Meetings (BUGMs)?
The memorandum of agreement on central items applies to all teachers and all collective agreements across the province. We want to make sure that every teacher has the opportunity to hear the information and ask questions before they vote. Information about how this deal will affect your specific local collective agreement will be available at the MIMs.
Unlike the voting procedure that occurred with previous agreements, the vote on this central agreement will take place online rather than during a meeting. After the vote on the central memorandum, BUGMs will be called to organize local bargaining and put forward an opening proposal to your employer.
Do I have to go to a MIM?
We encourage you to attend your nearest or most convenient MIM. While some information is available online, it is highly preferable to hear the presentation and the questions and comments from your colleagues. It is important that you make an informed decision.
What if I can’t go to the MIM in my area?
Members are not assigned to specific MIMs and can attend any MIM they wish.
OK, I’ve read it and I can live with most of it, but I really want to change one part. Can I?
No. It is a package deal.
Why isn’t there anything in the memorandum about class size? It’s on the central list.
Although class size is on the central list, the list only determines what may be discussed centrally. It doesn’t determine what must be included in the memorandum. However, because class size is on the central list, it may not be discussed at the local table. Only items on the local list may be negotiated by your local Economic Policy Committee (EPC).
I see no salary increase — can we bargain salary at our local table?
No, central table items can be negotiated only at the central table. There are other items on the local list that your EPC can negotiate, which may have cost implications for your board.
Can my EPC make a recommendation?
No. Neither can any subcommittee of a local. This memorandum of agreement applies to all teachers who are members of the ATA. Your elected representatives on PEC have made a recommendation. During the local bargaining phase, your local EPC will make a recommendation on a local memorandum of agreement once one is reached.
When will it take effect?
If passed by the majority of teachers, and once local bargaining is complete, the agreement will take effect on Sept. 1, 2017. However, some provisions, like the instruction and assigned time and the Classroom Improvement Fund, will take effect for the 2017/18 school year. Read the memorandum for details.
Do all locals have to be finished bargaining before the central agreement takes effect?
No. The central terms will be inserted into your agreement. Once your local negotiations are complete and ratified by both teachers and the board, then your agreement is complete and will be fully implemented according to the agreed terms.
What is the voting procedure?
Ratification will take place through an online vote conducted on the Association’s website at www.teachers.ab.ca. The voting period will begin on May 11 at 8 a.m. and end on May 14 at 5 p.m.
Teachers will be able to vote either yes (you accept the memorandum as presented) or no (you don’t accept the memorandum). Each teacher has a vote, and a simple majority (50 per cent plus one) of all teachers is needed to accept the memorandum. Votes will not be counted by bargaining units or locals.
How do I register to vote?
You will need an online account. If you don’t have one, it’s easy to set up at www.teachers.ab.ca. Once the polls are open, log in on the Members Only page of the website and cast your vote.
Why should I vote?
It is extremely important that all teachers vote on this memorandum. The outcome of this vote determines the next steps and actions we will undertake in the coming months, and it is critical that these actions not be determined by a small percentage of teachers.
What happens if we vote yes?
As with all memoranda, the parties must agree. Once TEBA votes (and accepts) the memorandum, it will be ratified and the focus will shift to local bargaining. Notice to open local bargaining must be given to the employer within 60 days of the central ratification. Your EPCs have been working hard to prepare the local proposal so they can meet this deadline.
What happens if we vote no?
Central table bargaining continues; however, at this point, all the agreed items will no longer be assured, and most likely a mediator will be brought in to assist. Binding arbitration is not part of this process, so teachers should be prepared to take future action should this memorandum fail.
Why electronic voting?
This agreement applies to all teachers, and it is impossible to call one BUGM to vote with a paper ballot. Electronic voting is the easiest and most efficient process. ❚