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Central table bargaining begins

October 12, 2021 Kate Toogood, ATA News Staff


Following some delays related to the pandemic and list arbitration, central table collective bargaining has begun. The Central Table Bargaining Committee (CTBC) met with the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) on Wednesday, Sept. 29 to commence bargaining and exchange initial proposals.

Peter MacKay, chair of CTBC and ATA district representative for North West, says the committee is expecting this round of negotiations to be different from previous ones, but they are prepared for the road ahead.

“We will need to be very strategic, and we will want to take our time,” he says. “There are lots of issues to discuss, and we may need to play our cards close to our chests.”

MacKay says one card they’ll be keeping close to the chest relates to the exchange of opening proposals. CTBC got a sense early that TEBA would not be tabling the full details of all the items in its opening proposal. As a result, TEBA has decided not to table its full proposal at first either.

This means a delay in the release of the full proposal to members.

“Normally, we would provide to members the full initial proposal after it has been tabled, but since we have reserved some items for tabling later, we can only share with members the items that have been put on the table so far,” MacKay says. “In fair negotiations, we must ensure that the other side is given the first look at our proposal.” 

“As such, we must wait to publish our full, detailed initial proposal until we have presented each element to TEBA in its entirety.”

MacKay says that once those reserved positions are tabled, teachers will be notified and an updated document will be placed on the ATA website.

Teachers were given a first glimpse of the initial draft proposal for collective bargaining via a telephone townhall and webcast on Sept. 21 and 22. There they received an overview of the proposal and were given the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Overall, roughly 6,000 teachers attended the two events.

Sean Brown, ATA associate co-ordinator of collective bargaining, says the response from members from September’s engagement events and the discussion groups last spring was invaluable. 

“It is critical for us to hear from teachers, because we bargain for teachers,” he says. “We benefited greatly from teachers’ comments on the initial proposal.”

Brown  says the overall tone of the first days of bargaining was cordial and productive. 

“At the first meeting we established rules under which we will conduct these negotiations, which includes commitments from both sides to keeping discussions at the table confidential and privileged,” he says.

“We will honour these commitments, but we will also continue to provide you with updates as we continue to meet — even if sometimes those updates lack specificity.” ❚

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