ATA News

Teachers highly engaged as bargaining unfolds

Puzzle pieces representing bargaining central table 2024

As central table bargaining picks up momentum for a new round, member engagement is at an all-time high. Nearly 20,000 teachers completed the ATA’s 2024 Bargaining Needs Survey, which is a significant jump from previous bargaining rounds. 

“People are motivated quite highly right now,” said Sean Brown, chief negotiator for the ATA’s Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC). “This is a very good starting place for us.” 

It’s through this survey and other member engagement opportunities that the CTBC determines which bargaining goals and priorities matter most to Alberta’s public teachers.

On March 20, the ATA held a telephone town hall to discuss the goals and priorities identified in the survey. More than 5,000 members participated and provided valuable feedback to the CTBC. 

Brown says the exchange of information between the membership and its bargaining committee plays a very important role in the process. He says teachers need to help shape their bargaining mandate and be part of the decisions that are being made.

“It’s important that they play an active role in the mandate creation process instead of it just being presented to them, as it has been in the past,” said Brown. “We need them to come along for the ride and ask us questions, so they know what’s coming and how we got there.”

The CTBC and the Teacher Employers Bargaining Association (TEBA) have met several times and have completed the first stage of central bargaining — list bargaining — which involves deciding which matters will be negotiated centrally and locally. This list, along with a draft of the survey bargaining goals, can be found on the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) website.

Brown is encouraging teachers to take part in other member engagement events being held throughout April.

A diverse selection of members who completed the bargaining needs survey will be chosen for focus group conversations on the results. Teacher Welfare Committees (TWC) will also be meeting with their local memberships to gather feedback, which will be shared with the district representatives and CTBC. 

Brown said negotiators intend to squeeze every drop out of what TEBA can offer, but to do that, they’ll need a strong mandate and the full backing of the membership. 

“Bargaining is going to be tough, and teachers will have to be prepared to take a stand if they’re looking for more than what’s being offered,” Brown said.

Provincial Executive Council (PEC) meets on April 10 to discuss the feedback that has been gathered so far and provide direction on what to include in the CBTC’s opening proposal. 

In mid-April, the Bargaining Advisory Committee (BAC), which comprises the TWC chairs from all 61 bargaining units, will meet with the CTBC to share perspectives from their memberships with the goal of CTBC sharing some of the initial draft proposal language with BAC and getting more feedback.

Members can hear and provide feedback on some of the draft opening proposal language by attending webcasts in late April or early May. All information gathered at these webcasts will be shared with the TWC chairs and PEC members.

The final version of CTBC’s opening proposal will be presented for approval to PEC at its May meeting. The Association is expected to be ready to open bargaining with TEBA in mid-May. Once the parties exchange initial proposals, teachers’ initial proposal will be posted on the Association’s website. ❚

Sean Brown sits at a table with bargaining chips
ATA chief negotiator Sean Brown shows off some “bargaining chips” at North Central Teachers’ Convention in Edmonton on Feb. 9.