TRUFA President’s Report to the Membership – June 2015

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May 31, 2015
Bargaining Update – TRU’s Proposal
June 15, 2015
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TRUFA President’s Report to the Membership – June 2015

While much of the time since our April TRUFA AGM has been spent in bargaining, I want to bring you up-to-date on a number of other issues.

 The 2015-2016 TRUFA Executive

We now have elected a full slate of Executive representatives and have begun to important task of preparing for the upcoming year.  In accordance with the new TRUFA Constitution and By-Laws, there are dedicated representatives from each of the Faculties/Schools, from Contract Faculty, from Williams Lake, and from Research/Scholarship.  In addition, three standing committee chairs sit on the Executive: Status of Women, Equity and Human Rights.  Since the AGM, the Vice President—Stewards and Vice President—Salary and Working Conditions have been elected by their committees.  And to round off the Executive, there are President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.


On June 3rd and 4th, the new Executive held its annual planning retreat at 108 Mile House.  The retreat deliberations focused on two major topics:

(1)    Executive responsibilities:  fiduciary duty to the members, and accountability and reporting to and from Faculty Councils and departments.  The Executive endorsed a Code of Conduct, which ensures that the business of the union will be conducted appropriately.

(2)    Communications:   both internal communications, informing members of key union issues, especially bargaining, and external communications, to the community, to other unions and to government.  We were joined by Cam Dales and Angus McAllister from Truthfool Communications, who are experts in tailoring messaging to achieve bargaining goals.

During the first evening we were joined by three Williams Lake faculty and had the opportunity to learn more about conditions at our Williams Lake campus.  The retreat also offered the opportunity for Executive members to learn more about each other, and to start building an effective team for confronting the many challenges we will be facing over the next year.


TRUFA Budget

Since the AGM and relying on advice from accountants, the TRUFA Executive has decided to use additional money from the annual Employment Insurance rebate fund on behalf of members.  As you may know, because TRU has illness / disability coverage for faculty, thus saving EI from providing sick benefits for us, the government rebates money back to the institution, a portion of which goes to TRUFA for the benefit of members.  Part of that money was earmarked in the early 2000’s to increase our woefully inadequate vision care coverage.  The Executive has authorized additional money from this fund to support increased faculty social events, including support for at least two or three additional general meetings during the year, the TRUFA BBQ, the TRUFA Christmas social and next year’s AGM costs.


Following the presentation on the budget at the AGM and a discussion of the Strike/Defence Fund and other internal transfers,  I will be working with the TRUFA Treasurer, Kevin Barrie, and Marian Griffin to revamp the reporting of these transfers.  At the first general meeting in the fall, Kevin or I will present the new reporting methods to members.


The Website

Over the past several months, the TRUFA Communications officer, Jack Massalski, has been re-designing our website to make it easier to navigate and find information.  We will be sending out individual log-in information to the secure portions of the website, so that TRUFA can communicate bargaining updates more effectively and make sure that all members know what is happening at the bargaining table.  Stay tuned for further information about log-in procedures.


Cultural Events

For those who attended the AGM, you’ll recall that the outgoing TRUFA Executive had unanimously decided not to include a donation to “Live at TRU!”.  For a number of years, TRUFA had been contributing $5,000 annually to this campus group, which arranges for Thursday afternoon performances throughout the year, showcasing musical entertainment and other cultural events.  The Executive was concerned about a lack of acknowledgement of TRUFA’s donation in the group’s promotional materials.  In addition, members of the Executive felt that TRUFA could arrange cultural events on our own with this money.


At the AGM, members of the Live at TRU! committee in attendance were asked about the group’s budget and other specifics about Live at TRU operations, but they were unable to  provide any details.  Discussion identified how important cultural events are for our members, but focused on how TRUFA should allocate our contribution to these events.  Some suggested that we retain a $5,000 cultural events line, but then have Live at TRU and others apply for that money.  Despite all of the above, the membership voted to continue our annual $5,000 contribution to “Live at TRU!”  AGM attendees felt that TRUFA’s contribution had to be acknowledged more effectively.  I am working with “Live at TRU!” to make certain that our contribution is being well spent, that TRUFA’s donation is acknowledged, and I will also attempt to ensure that performances can be staged for our Williams Lake colleagues.


Provost Candidates

TRUFA has been invited to meet with the candidates for the TRU Provost position.  In addition to the public presentation by Dr. Ken Barker last Monday, members of the Executive met with him last Tuesday and asked him questions about tenure, academic governance, the role of the Provost and the comprehensive programming of our University.  Today (Monday, June 15th), the second candidate will be presenting at 2 pm in the Barber Centre and on Tuesday TRUFA will be meeting with him.  And on Thursday, June 18th, the final short-listed candidate will make a public presentation—also at 2 pm in the Barber Centre—and the TRUFA Executive will meet with her.  The deadline for feedback to the Search Committee is Friday, June 19th and I would urge all faculty to submit their impressions of each candidate.  TRUFA will be providing our own assessment as well.



When grievances cannot be resolved locally through the Step One or Step Two procedures in Article 4 of the Collective Agreement, TRUFA stewards can request that the Executive approve an application to the FPSE Grievance Arbitration Review Committee (GARC) to have the dispute adjudicated by an arbitrator.  If the case is approved by GARC, FPSE appoints counsel and pays for all arbitration costs.  Over the past few months, the TRUFA Executive has approved about ten disputes to GARC.  Of those, three have already been approved (the others will be discussed this month) and arbitrations are being arranged.  The first, on course evaluations, will be heard on July 20th – 22nd.  The second, which is a jurisdictional issue regarding the Faculty of Law Career Services position—and the third, non-renewal of Limited Term Contract positions in violation of Article, will be heard in the fall.  As with all pending arbitrations, the parties have the ability to resolve the issue before the case is heard before an arbitrator.


Some Key Issues for the Upcoming Year

I want to alert TRUFA members to the following issues, which will be of major concern to TRUFA during the upcoming year:



  1. TRU’s commitment to comprehensive programming.  Over the past year, we have seen a number of disturbing threats to some vocational and foundation programs – which some feel – may not belong in a University environment.   Among these programs are Horticulture, Culinary Arts, Cope-Mecca, First Steps, Employment Skills Training, Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language.  The threats have taken the form of resources being cut or course sections being eliminated or tuition being imposed or departing faculty not being adequately replaced.  When we became a full status university in 2005, the institutional leadership made a commitment: to retain the comprehensive nature of UCC.  Under the TRU Act, we are obligated to meet the educational needs of our region, in particular by offering adult basic education and training.  We prided ourselves on our status as “University with a Difference” through which students could have access to foundation and remedial courses, enrol in certificate programs, and then ladder into diplomas or degrees.  Imposing a tuition fee on ABE courses, even though there may be grants available, has the potential of restricting access to a significant number of potential students, the very students who most desperately need post-secondary education.  Maintaining appropriate faculty numbers and resources for programs such as Horticulture and Culinary Arts, who have nearly 100% job placement for graduating students, is essential.  And cuts to course offerings in ESL can potentially cut off a valuable revenue stream from international students and will reduce the number of enrolments in academic courses for which students need advanced language training.  TRUFA is working with the affected departments to  counter these threats.


  1. Tenure.  In 2006, TRUFA negotiated a new “University” collective agreement, which instituted tenure as a key component of academic life at TRU.  Existing long-term continuing faculty were granted tenure and new ‘regular’ appointments were to be “tenure-track” with a clear process for newly hired faculty to be granted tenure.  Unlike the former “continuing” status of faculty prior to 2006, tenured faculty enjoy enhanced rights to exercise academic freedom without fear of reprisal and job security that protects them from being terminated except for “grave misconduct” or financial exigency, a situation in which the fiscal health of the entire university is under threat.  Beyond academic freedom—the right to speak out publicly on any subject and to criticize one’s institution and its leaders, or its union—tenure ensures that faculty can fulfill their role in the academic governance of the university as well as apply a high degree of independent judgement in the performance of their instructional and research or other professional roles. In exchange for a lengthy probationary period of up to six years, during which tenure-track faculty are subjected to performance reviews and collegial evaluation, tenure is a promise of secure academic employment.  [See the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) definition of tenure below.]  TRUFA is committed to maintaining the rights and privileges that accompany the granting of tenure.


  1. TRU Budget.  TRUFA has committed to conducting a “priorities audit” of Thompson Rivers University.  In keeping with the TRUFA alternative Strategic Priorities initiative from 2013-2014, this year’s Executive will be working on an audit using TRU’s public reporting documents to demonstrate how the fiscal priorities of the administration and the Board of Governors may not be in the best interests of students, programs or faculty.  We will base our audit on pioneer work done at Western University and other institutions by their faculty associations.  The audit will be accompanied by TRUFA recommendations to the Board of Governors on how TRU can best fulfill its legislative mandate and ensure the credibility and continued well-being of our programs.


I hope that all of you will have a restful and productive summer and I look forward to seeing you during the summer or at the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester.


In solidarity,



Tom Friedman, President



Tenure constitutes the primary procedural safeguard of academic freedom, and is essential for the maintenance of intellectual liberty and high standards in postsecondary education and in scholarship. It is the means by which academic staff are protected against personal malice or political coercion. Tenure, following rigorous evaluation by peers, ensures secure continued academic employment. Once academic staff receive tenure, they retain that status should they move from one position to another, or from one rank to another, within the institution.

By definition, employment in a tenured position involves responsibilities of teaching, research, professional activity, and service and the right to salary and benefits that are appropriate to the nature of the position. In those cases where a tenured position is less than full time, the responsibilities attached to the position should be the same as those for a full-time position on a pro rata basis and salary and benefits should be no less than for a full-time position on a pro-rata basis.

The word tenure and its derivatives mean that such an appointment can only be terminated for just and sufficient reasons, which are limited to the areas of financial exigency or of grave misconduct, and which must be proved through procedures that ensure fairness before a properly constituted and independent tribunal. The phasing out of courses or programs by the university or college is not a reason for terminating a tenured appointment. In these circumstances the university or college has the obligation to transfer a member with a tenured appointment to another position for which the member is qualified or to provide training so that the member can take up an alternative position. In either case the appointment to which the member is transferred is tenured.

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2005.

Tom Friedman, President
TRU Faculty Association