ATA News

Bargaining focused on teachers' needs

ATA negotiating team seeks ongoing dialogue with members as central table process unfolds

Hello from your Central Table Bargaining Committee! We’ve had a very busy 2024 so far. We’ve completed list bargaining (see Bargaining Updates 2024 on the Association’s website for details), and we’re now in the process of establishing our mandate for matters bargaining.

Part of that work involved CTBC’s presence at ATA tables during teachers’ conventions in February and March. We had great conversations, gave away a great many “bargaining chips,” and learned a lot about the mindset of teachers around the province:

  • Conditions in Alberta classrooms are eroding, our salaries continue to fall behind inflation and, because of that, teachers expect more out of this round of bargaining than they’ve expected from previous rounds.
  • Teachers understand that they may need to show real conviction to convince this government to make a significant investment in public education. Teachers aren’t looking for a fight, but they are determined to do whatever is necessary to change things for the better.

Teachers are also very mindful of what is going on with our peers and their collective bargaining processes. Last month the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) had reportedly opened its negotiations with a very significant proposal: a 25 per cent pay increase in the first year, 10 per cent plus cost of living (COLA) in year two and COLA thereafter. 

Not surprisingly, we had several teachers approach us to talk about it. One asked me whether the nurses’ “bold ask” put us in a good position or a bad one? I responded that we are much happier seeing those numbers from the UNA rather than, for instance, three years of two per cent. 

We aren’t in competition with nurses in our bargaining. They deserve a significant compensation increase, and we all hope that they get it. But we also have to be mindful that our members have different needs than the nurses do. Teachers want and need salary increases, to be sure, but they also want us to pursue other matters, like class size limits, clauses to address complexity, and more effective limits on workload related to assignable and instructional time.

Teachers also mentioned education bargaining in other provinces, especially what’s going on in Saskatchewan and their fight to have the government address class size. It was great to see how aware our members are of the labour context for teachers across the country, and it was especially inspiring to hear teachers express their feelings of solidarity and support for their Saskatchewan colleagues. More than one teacher asked, “Are you taking notes?” We definitely are. 

The Central Table Bargaining Committee continues to work on developing an initial proposal that teachers can stand behind with conviction. You’ll hear more from us in the months to come as bargaining progresses. Be well, colleagues! ❚

Peter MacKay

Chair, Central Table Bargaining Committee