Labour relations board rules in complaint against Rocky View Schools
Alberta’s Labour Relation’s Board (ALRB) ruled against the Alberta Teacher’s Association’s (ATA) unfair labour practice complaint about Rocky View Schools (RVS), Sept. 17.
The complaint, which was made against RVS on June 11, claimed the school board breached a bargaining in good faith policy when the jurisdiction posted both sides’ open-bargaining proposals on its website last May.
ALRB wrote in its report outlining the decision that the board determines what constitutes bad faith bargaining on a case-by-case basis.
The report deemed no rules against confidentiality and bargaining proposals were broken.
It also stated there was evidence that RVS’ bargaining policies were implemented prior to the start of bargaining to increase transparency with the public.
In addition, the report stated the ATA didn’t ask RVS to modify the opening proposals after they were published online, raising concern about the validity of ATA’s complaint.
The report stated: “In our view, there is simply no implied default protocol under the Code that demands that a party’s bargaining proposals are confidential until impasse. There is nothing inherently confidential about bargaining proposals.”
It goes on to read there are different customs across the province varying from ‘blackout bargaining’ (hidden) to ‘fish-bowl bargaining’ (completely transparent) and everything in between. The document states there is little evidence to determine RVS and ATA’s past methods of bargaining.
“The allegation that there has been a change in the practice of these particular parties or a common practice in this sector that supports a finding of bad faith bargaining is simply not borne out by the evidence,” the report stated.
Colleen Munro, RVS trustee and chair of Rocky View’s labour relations committee, reacted positively to the finding.
“Obviously, we’re happy about the ruling,” said Munro.
“We did this for the purpose of keeping our public informed,” she said. “It was done with a pure heart in good faith. We’re not breaking any labour laws by (publishing the opening proposals online), and I think that’s the significance of the ruling.”
Munro said the ruling will help to provide consistency across the province.
Michelle Glavine, president of Rocky View Local of the ATA, disagreed.
“Overall, what we heard the labour relations board say in the decision was even though something may be considered a fair labour practice it doesn’t mean that it is a good labour practice,” said Glavine.
“We felt it was destructive to the bargaining process but we’ve committed to the bargaining that’s at hand.”
Provincial ATA President Carol Henderson did not agree with the reasoning behind RVS’ decision to publish the proposals.
“(RVS’) reason is they wanted to engage their parents,” Henderson said.
“We really believe that we elect people we trust to solve (these issues). I don’t think there are very many boards that post their entire board meeting minutes. We don’t expect them to. We aren’t posting all of our decisions.
“We really believe that bargaining is about building a relationship of trust.”
RVS is one of 62 school boards in Alberta with collective agreements that expired at the end of August. Both parties will return to the bargaining table Oct. 2.
“We need to get back to the table,” Henderson said.
“We will continue to develop an agreement that works for both (RVS and the ATA).”
To read the full decision report by the Alberta Labour Relations Board, visit www.alrb.gov.ab.ca/decisions.html