The Alberta Teachers’ Association has participated in tripartite discussions with the government of Alberta and the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) since fall 2011.
The discussions are being held to achieve a framework agreement that would lead to collective agreements for an additional term. The government is looking to secure labour peace, cost certainty and workforce stability in the education sector.
At a meeting of the parties on January 9, Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk announced that he had retained Edmonton employment lawyers Dwayne Chomyn and John Hope, QC, to advise him on obtaining a tripartite agreement and bringing the talks to a conclusion. Because a provincial budget will be delivered in early February, the education minister wants to announce sustained, predictable funding for education but needs to know the salary costs of teachers before doing so. He has given Chomyn and Hope 10 days to meet with the ATA and the ASBA to clarify their interests. Although the ASBA has sought to keep workload issues out of the discussions (especially issues of instructional time and assignable time), the minister’s advisors have made it clear that those issues will be considered.
On January 10 and 13, Chomyn and Hope, along with Alberta Education staff, met with Association representatives (Gordon Thomas, executive secretary; Dennis Theobald, associate executive secretary; Jacquie Skytt, assistant executive secretary; and Sharon Vogrinetz, coordinator, Teacher Welfare). Chomyn and Hope also met with the ASBA that week. Additional meetings will likely continue the week of January 16, and Chomyn and Hope are expected to report back to the minister that same week.
If a draft framework is not agreed upon, Chomyn and Hope will make recommendations to the minister on how to proceed. If a draft framework is agreed upon, it will be presented to each bargaining unit for ratification, and local bargaining on all other issues will follow.
Emergent announcements are likely in the coming weeks. As information becomes available, it will be posted on the ATA’s website (www.teachers.ab.ca) and may also be distributed through School Representative Digests (faxed to schools) or communications to local presidents and Economic Policy Committees.