Local bargaining to begin as employer group ratifies
Alberta teachers can proceed to local bargaining as the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) has ratified the central table agreement reached in late April.
TEBA ratified the agreement May 24, so the central agreement is now official and the Alberta Teachers’ Association has 60 days from that date to serve notice for local bargaining to begin for its 61 collective agreements with school boards.
“There are some bargaining units that are ready to go and will start bargaining now. There are others that are not, so their [notification] letters will go out in July,” said Sharon Vogrinetz, assistant executive secretary and member of the Association’s Central Table Bargaining Committee.
While the central table agreement will be incorporated into all 61 collective agreements between the Association and employing school boards, three of its provisions will take effect immediately upon commencement of the 2017/18 school year.
One of these is the $75 million Classroom Improvement Fund (CIF). In order to prepare for this new program, local CIF committees are now being formed as subcommittees of economic policy committees, Vogrinetz said. The hope is to have these committees meeting before the end of June.
“That’s the top priority: establish the CIF committees so they can start approving projects to submit to Alberta Education in time for funding classroom improvements by the start of the school year,” she said.
Also taking effect in September will be new provisions limiting instructional and assigned time, and those that apply to teachers working in jurisdictions operating with a compressed school year.
These new measures will require that teachers and school administrators pay attention as the new school year begins in the fall, Vogrinetz said.
“They need to work together to plan what the year looks like and be mindful of the new rights they have and make sure they take advantage of them.”
Teachers ratified the agreement through an online vote that ended May 14. At the various Member Information Meetings that took place around the province, some teachers expressed displeasure that the agreement doesn’t include salary increases.
Central Table Bargaining Committee chair Greg Jeffery acknowledged this reaction but said the deal is something the Association can build on.
“While I am disappointed that there were no salary increases for teachers, the gains that were made are significant,” he said.
“With every teacher in the province having their time protected, in the future we can work to improve these clauses and eliminate the sunset clauses that still exist.” ❚