News / Calgary

ATA president confident voter turnout represents interests of Alberta teachers

The ATA said although only 13,000 of the 40,000 members voted they believe the vote is representative of what Alberta teachers are looking for

ATA president Mark Ramsankar said teachers voiced the need for more parameters around working conditions.

Metro File Photo

ATA president Mark Ramsankar said teachers voiced the need for more parameters around working conditions.

Despite having roughly one third of Alberta teachers vote in favour of a two-year agreement with no pay raises but money to improve classroom conditions, the Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA) said they’re satisfied with the representative sample. 

On Monday the ATA said 78 per cent of teachers voted in favour of accepting the deal, which came after months of negotiations.

The agreement also includes a $75 million Classroom Improvement Fund that will distribute funds according to locally established priorities.

Mark Ramsankar, president of the ATA, said although only 13,000 of the 40,000 members voted, he thinks the voters do represent Alberta teachers’ thoughts. 

“Albertans generally don’t show up for any kind of vote in large numbers—provincially, federally or locally—and Alberta teachers are Albertans,” he said. “I think this representative sample speaks loud and clear for teachers across the province.”

Ramsankar said more important is what they voted for. 

“Teachers are saying that they want time to be able to work with Alberta children, and we were seeing that in areas of the province there were no parameters on working conditions,” he said. “It’s a starting point for the roughly 20,000 teachers who didn’t have working conditions or time clauses—this is a big step forward.” 

He said once the agreement comes into effect there will be actual definitions of what is work and what is not.

If approved, local bargaining will begin and the agreement will be incorporated into the 61 collective agreements between the association and individual school boards. If it's not approved, both sides will go into mediation.

Teachers told Metro they’d had to sign into their ATA accounts to vote, and were not sure if the ATA then had access to their voting history. 

Jonathan Teghtmeyer, a communications coordinator for the ATA quelled those fears. 

He said after signing into their accounts to confirm eligibility, they were then directed to a third party website to vote. 

Teghtmeyer said no record of who voted which way is provided to the ATA. 

More on Metronews.ca