Palliser welcomes new labour agreements with ATA and CUPE

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Palliser Regional Schools’ teachers represented by  Alberta Teachers’ Association Local 19 and caretakers represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 290 have new four-year agreements through Aug. 31, 2016.

The terms of the teacher agreement were determined following a five-hour arbitration hearing Feb. 7, 2014, after local negotiations between Palliser and the ATA failed to reach a settlement. The award was issued by David Jones, Q.C.

The new CUPE contract was reached following one four-hour meeting of respective bargaining. Palliser’s Board and CUPE members have ratified the contract with a formal signing ceremony expected on March 18.

Associate Superintendent (Human Resources) Kevin Garinger, who served on bargaining committees, said both the arbitration process with ATA and collective bargaining with CUPE were positive processes that achieved improvements for both employees and Palliser.

 The arbitrator’s award:

  • Increases the annual contribution to teachers’ health spending accounts to $425, from $400, from Sept. 1, 2014 through Aug. 31, 2016, the final two years of the agreement;
  • Provides one paid day of personal leave in the school year, effective Sept. 1, 2014. If not used in a school year, it may be carried forward to the next school year, but not any further;
  • Creates a sunset clause on both the health spending account and paid leave day increases, ending them at the conclusion of this four-year agreement;
  • Provides a grievance procedure for a teacher, the ATA or Palliser to follow should there be an issue with interpretation or violation of the collective agreement;
  • Includes a salary increase of about 0.19 per cent effective Sept. 1, 2014 to bring Palliser teachers to the “adjusted provincial average,” as outlined in the provincial framework agreement;
  • Includes a one-time lump sum payment of one per cent of a teacher’s annual salary, prorated for full-time equivalency, effective Nov. 15, 2015, to be funded by the Government of Alberta, as outlined in the provincial framework agreement;
  • Includes a two-per cent salary increase effective Sept. 1, 2015, as outlined in the provincial framework agreement;
  • Limits Palliser’s spending in the final two years of the contract to 0.05 per cent of the division’s base instruction grant, in keeping with Part D of the provincial framework agreement.  In Palliser, that amounts to about $111,000 per year;
  • Eliminates letters of understanding that were part of the previous contract to address positions in Central Office which no longer exist and outlining professional development fund allocation. The Palliser Board/Superintendent retain control over PD funds.

The negotiated contract with CUPE:

  • Provides pay on a monthly basis, with forty-five per cent of net pay disbursed on the second Friday of each month and remaining pay and all deductions on the last working Friday of the month. In December, the last working Friday shall be the last working Friday prior to the Christmas holiday;
  • Provides increases in vacation time after the fifth and 10th years of service, previously given after the eighth and 15th years. Adds a sixth week of paid vacation to employees in their 30th year of service;
  • Adds Family Day to holiday entitlements;
  • Reflects Palliser’s intention to give part-time employees the opportunity to increase their time to fill vacancies left by employees who are sick or on vacation.
  • Increases Palliser’s contribution to Health Spending Accounts to $500 per employee per year, effective Sept. 1, 2014;
  • Continues seniority accruel for regular employees who successfully apply for a temporary/relief position and clarifies benefits for employees who successfully apply for temporary/relief positions;
  • Provides a two per cent increase in hourly rates, effective Sept. 1, 2015 and a lump sum payment of one per cent of the gross annual salary of each caretaker on Nov. 13, 2015.

“We’re pleased to have agreements with both of these employee groups through 2016,” said Colleen Deitz, Palliser’s Board Chair. “We have lived within our financial means, and we have maintained strong relationships with our teachers and our caretakers through this process. With these agreements in place, we can fully focus on serving the best interests of students and supporting student learning.”

The ATA agreement applies to nearly 500 teachers in Palliser. CUPE Local 290 represents about two dozen of Palliser’s caretakers.