I want to begin by congratulating all those who put their names forward for election either as representatives of their Faculties/Schools or constituent groups, or for at-large positions at the AGM. And I want to congratulate the 2019-2020 TRUFA Table Officers: Monica Sanchez-Flores who will take over as TRUFA President on July 1, 2019, Tara Lyster, who has already begun her term as TRUFA Vice President, Melissa Svendsen, who was re-elected as Vice President, Williams Lake & Regions, and Krista Lussier and Mike Looney, who were elected by the Stewards’ Committee to serve as co-VP Stewards. The Salary and Working Conditions Committee (SWCC) will be meeting on Monday, May 27th to elect the Vice President SWCC and the TRUFA Performance Review Coordinator.
Twelve TRUFA members attended the 2019 Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) Annual General Meeting and Convention held in Kelowna from May 13th through May 16th. Billed as “Solidarity in Action: together for a better future,” the convention portion of the event featured speakers, workshops, and panel discussions, and the AGM featured policy and resolution debates, constitutional changes, and provincial officer elections.
Here are some highlights:
After four years as FPSE President, George Davison stepped down and will have an educational leave before returning to his role as History professor at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George. Terri Van Steinburg, who has served four years as FPSE Secretary-Treasurer, was elected to be the Federation’s new president. Replacing Terri as Secretary-Treasurer is Sean Parkinson, who has served as president of the University of the Fraser Valley Faculty and Staff Association for the past four years. Joining Terri and Sean on the FPSE Executive, are returning vice-presidents Frank Cosco (Vancouver Community College FA) and Leslie Molnar (College of the Rockies FA). Two Executive members-at-large were elected by the Presidents’ Council immediately following the AGM: Shirley Ackland (North Island College FA) and Bob Davis (Kwantlen Polytechnic University FA). I am pleased to see that three members of the FPSE Executive come from the university sector of FPSE.
The AGM was hosted by the Selkirk College Faculty Association, but was held in Kelowna due to better accommodation and meeting facilities than exist in either Nelson or Castlegar. The AGM opened with an acknowledgment that the meeting was taking place on unceded, traditional territory of the Syilx / Okanagan nations, and included a presentation and creation story from a Syilx elder.
Key-note speakers at the convention included Chandra Pasma, Researcher in the National office of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), who spoke about the disturbing proliferation of contract faculty appointments at Canadian universities. The research database compiled by CUPE is accessible at www.contractu.ca. Tracy Prezeau, International Representative Education Department of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW, local 9) spoke about the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision that ruled that mandatory union membership was unconstitutional and about the rise of “right to work” legislation in American states. Brynn Bourke, the Executive Director of the BC Federation of Labour, spoke about a number of BC Fed campaigns including the push for an improved Employment Standards Act and other changes to labour legislation that will end contract-flipping and other anti-worker laws brought in under the previous provincial government.
A panel on the impact on faculty of the growth of international students in BC post-secondary institutions was held, which I moderated. Three presenters—Leslie Molnar (2nd VP FPSE), Bob Davis (Kwantlen) and Jasmine Nicholsfigueiredo (Douglas)—provided ways in which faculty can best meet the needs of international students through governance and collective agreement activism. And four workshops were held—Decolonizing Your Collective Agreement, which Lloyd Bennett and I attended, Green Jobs and Climate Justice, Collegial Governance and High Participation Unions.
The AGM sessions were highlighted by debates on changes to the FPSE By-laws bringing them in line with the new BC Societies Act, on internal Federation policies in respect to standing committees and financial management, and on policies relating to government lobbying. Some highlights:
· AGM delegates approved the creation of an emergency ad hoc committee on how to best respond to climate change, which will make recommendations to the 2020 FPSE AGM;
· Delegates supported allocating resources to the FPSE History Project, which is designed to interview activists from the two forerunners of FPSE—the Confederation of Faculty Associations (CFA—1970-1980) and the College Institute Educators Association (CIEA—1980-2005) in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Federation in 2020;
· Authorization was given so that the provincial Decolonization, Reconciliation and Indigenization Committee (DRISC) could hold five (instead of two) meetings this coming year to continue their important work;
· Approval to send twelve delegates chosen by FPSE to attend this summer’s Summer Institute for Union Women (SIUW) in Vancouver. The SIUW invites female union activists from the western US and Canada for a week of intensive training.
· Approval to donate $5,000 to the CAUT Academic Freedom Fund, adding to the $17,500 already donated by FPSE over the years. For your information, TRUFA donates $1,000 per year and our total donations have now reached $17,000 since 2004.
One important monetary resolution originating from TRUFA was approved by the AGM. It provides additional funding to promote the volume Whose Land is it Anyways? A Manual for Decolonization, whose publication was initiated by the TRUFA Human Rights Committee:
The Federation will:
(1) work with an indigenous rights support group from France, which has developed a French translation of the book , to promote and distribute it; and
(2) work with members of Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Local 22) and Indigenous ratio station Nuxalk (91.1 FM Bella Coola), both of whom have indicated readiness to support production of the audiobook, significantly reducing costs; and
(3) allocate $15,000 in the 2019-2020 fiscal year to support the promotion and distribution of the book’s French translation; the production of an audiobook version of the book; printing of additional copies for distribution to FPSE member locals.
I think I can speak for all TRUFA delegates in saying that the FPSE AGM and Convention was educational, inspiring and most enjoyable.
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President