Since my last update in the March TRUFA Newsletter, TRUFA has been focused on implementing the February 9th non-confidence motion overwhelmingly approved at the general faculty meeting. Rather than simply call a full-scale non-confidence vote immediately after the ratification of the mediator’s recommendations, the TRUFA Executive and Table Officers felt that it was important that this issue be fully recognized as more than just frustration at the failures of bargaining, but also be seen in the broader context of long-standing faculty concerns about TRU senior administration.
The FPSE Climate Survey, conducted in the spring of 2015, gave a clear indication that—by a 3 to 1 margin—TRU faculty felt that TRU senior administrators were not taking faculty views into account, were not adequately consulting with faculty on academic matters, and were leading the University in the wrong direction. The most telling result of that survey, in my view, was the fact that a strong majority of TRU faculty said that administrators do not understand the day-to-day challenges of faculty work.
Over the past 18 months, department Chairs and individual faculty members have approached TRUFA, not just on Collective Agreement issues, but also on failures of their Deans to adhere to appropriate governance procedures. While administration has repeatedly told TRUFA that our role is simply to administer the Collective Agreement, I believe that our members need a collective voice to air their concerns. The usual forum for such communication is the BC Labour Code mandated Labour Management Consultative Committee. Despite TRUFA requests for regular meetings, administration failed to agree to meetings from March 2015 to March 2016, perhaps claiming that bargaining was interfering. Having appointed an administrator in charge of Faculty Relations to only a part-time position may have played a role.
In October, faculty in the School of Trades and Technology initiated a non-confidence vote in their Dean, further proof of faculty recognizing the failures of leadership, especially on the part of senior administrators who are ultimately responsible for all administrators.
When faculty gave the TRUFA Executive the authority to determine the timing of a general faculty non-confidence vote, consideration was given to the statements made by the TRU President immediately after ratification of the mediator’s recommendations. The President declared that administration was interested in continuing a dialogue with faculty and TRUFA to address issues. As TRUFA President, I welcomed those statements and said that faculty and their union wanted the same thing. In an effort to respect what I can only characterize as an authentic desire to work collegially, the TRUFA Executive delayed the implementation of the vote. During the eight weeks since that motion was passed, however, those words were not backed up by constructive actions. In fact, new violations of both the Collective Agreement and TRU governance policies have occurred in many areas of the campus.
As a result, the Executive called for the vote to be held from April 12th through April 19th. I want to thank faculty who have already voted, and urge those who haven’t to participate and allow your voices to be heard.
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President