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Agreements still in effect despite expiry date

September 27, 2016 ATA Teacher Welfare

How bridging and expiring provisions affect you

The collective agreements between the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the 61 public and separate school boards all expired as of Aug. 31, 2016. However, all collective agreements made under the Alberta Labour Relations Code must contain “bridging provisions” that allow the agreements to remain in effect while the parties are bargaining until either there is a new agreement ratified or there is a strike or lockout. This bridged period, the point of expiry of the old agreement to the ratification of a new one, is also called the “freeze period” because during this time the employer cannot arbitrarily alter compensation or working conditions. The legislation under which teachers bargain, the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act, matches the labour code in these provisions.

However, this general bridging rule does not apply when the parties have specifically agreed that a certain provision ends at a particular time. For example, in the agreement between the Calgary Board of Education and the ATA, teacher instructional time is limited to 1,430 minutes per week. While this provision specifically ended June 30, 2016, the CBE has agreed to continue the provision for this school year.

Likewise, in the ATA’s agreement with Edmonton Public Schools, the provisions related to the school calendar will end Sept. 1, 2017. This is referred to as a sunset clause. Conversely, the instructional time clause in the ATA’s agreement with Edmonton Catholic Schools has no date and therefore continues from collective agreement to collective agreement unless the parties agree to a change.

Another expired item is the 2013 Assurances for Students Act and associated ministerial order and modified framework that together made up the legislated settlement that ended the last round of bargaining — they expired on Aug. 31, 2016. This means that no longer in effect are the 907-hour cap on instructional time, the reduction of assigned tasks and all the other framework provisions regarding C2 committees on teacher workload and efficacy, as well as two lieu days for principals. The salary provisions do not end since those were incorporated into the collective agreements and are now bridged.

Another type of sunsetting currently in teacher agreements involves the parties agreeing that a clause ends upon the ratification of a new collective agreement unless the parties agree to do something different. This was a rather unusual compromise that arose out of the legislated arbitration process in the last round of bargaining.

For example, in Golden Hills, this provision states that “upon ratification of a collective agreement by the parties following Aug. 31, 2016, unless otherwise agreed by the parties,” the board will pay 93 per cent of teachers’ benefit premiums instead of 96 per cent. This does not mean that the reversion to 93 per cent automatically happens on Aug. 31, 2016. It means that, if the parties ratify a new collective agreement that does not include a provision of 96 per cent or better, that provision will revert to 93 per cent.

This type of sunsetting also applies to Rocky View (personal leave), Palliser (personal leave and health spending account), Prairie Rose (group benefit premiums), Horizon (personal leave)and Christ the Redeemer (group benefits and personal leave).

All teachers are encouraged to read and be familiar with their collective agreement. If you have any questions about specific clauses in your collective agreement, please contact your local Economic Policy Committee or call Teacher Welfare. ❚


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