Our 47 Branches
Explanation of NLTA Branch Structure
Branches or locals were a fairly late development for the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association. In the early years and right up to the mid-thirties, the teachers who paid a membership fee were relatively discrete units who could and did attend the infrequent Convention. Between such Conventions, a small Executive kept the NLTA fires burning.
The 1936 Convention sponsored branch activity. A resolution was adopted to “authorize branches to be formed in the various districts and that branches so formed may send a representative to the Executive Council.” Branches were formed at Avondale, Burin, Trinity, Grand Falls, Carbonear, Bonavista, and Harbour Grace. These branches had a relatively low profile for some years. The first mention of them in the publication, the NLTA Journal, appeared in the January 1939 edition. It listed six new and nine older branches.
The number of branches fluctuated — they organized, became inactive, and reorganized. In 1939, there had been 15; in 1943 there were 11 in operation for the year; in 1944 of the 27 branches, 12 were active; in 1949 there were 17. By the 1960s the number had risen to well over 40 and in the early nineties, there were 57. Today, due to the amalgamation of branches since 1995, the total number of branches stands at 47.
The NLTA branch forms the framework that holds the Association together and provides a direct link between the provincial Association and teachers in the field. Its role is an essential and ever-growing one within the affairs of the Association. Branches give members the opportunity to have input into the operation of the Association in formal ways, such as through the election of delegates and the development of policy for the Biennial General Meeting, and through informal contacts and exchange of ideas. Branches also promote social activities, hold professional days and ensure the distribution of important information on negotiations, benefits and economic services, and other issues.
Each branch elects its own Executive annually or biennially. This local Executive provides the leadership for the branch program and serves as a direct liaison and communications link with NLTA headquarters. The branch president plays a key role in this operation.
Many of the larger branches operate on the school representative or councillor system, while the majority hold regular total membership meetings on a regular basis throughout the year. Highlights of current problems and issues facing the Association and the teaching profession are dealt with as these meetings. The branch structure comes into focus at the time when collective bargaining requires a vote from teachers. Branch presidents can be counted on to convene meetings, disseminate information and conduct such votes in a most effective and efficient fashion. Discussions at the branch level generate the resolutions dealt with biennially at Convention. The Association depends on the branches for nominees to the offices of President and Vice-President and for the 10 other positions on the Provincial Executive. Directly or indirectly, all Association policy originates in our branches. Branches are the very heart of NLTA.