Here are some highlights of issues/events with which I have been involved over the last month:
On September 26th, I delivered the annual TRUFA submission to the BC Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, part of the provincial government’s pre-2019-2020 budget consultation. This all-party committee hears from citizens and organizations around the province and makes recommendations to the Minister of Finance and the cabinet on budget priorities. Last year, for example, the committee recommended (on TRUFA’s and FPSE’s suggestion) that Adult Basic Education programs in post-secondary institutions be tuition-free; the government responded in July with that decision.
This year, both FPSE provincially and TRUFA are strongly advocating for a review of how colleges and universities are funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education. This funding formula review, TRUFA contends, must acknowledge the legislative mandate under which TRU operates. In other words, funding should be tied to the specific obligations we undertook as an institution when we came under the TRU Act as a full-status university in 2005. Current per-FTE student funding does not take into account our mandate to deliver graduate programs, maintain research in support of both undergraduate and graduate programs or provide educational opportunities for all in our region.
In addition to calling on government to review the funding formula, TRUFA is calling for the elimination of tuition fees on developmental programs such as ESTR in Kamloops and WST in Williams Lake, programs that provide job and life skills for those in our communities with developmental challenges. The cost of NOT providing enhanced access and affordability for these students and their families is enormous. Programs like ESTR and WST help their graduates become fully contributing members of their local communities.
Five TRUFA delegates attended an all-day bargaining conference on Saturday, September 29th in Vancouver: Co-VP stewards, Mike Looney and Krista Lussier, VP-SWCC Lloyd Bennett, bargaining team member Tara Lyster and myself. See the report of the VP-SWCC in this Newsletter.
For new faculty—and for others who may not have had the time to pay attention to such arcane matters—I just wanted to provide some key elements of the bargaining process.
1. TRUFA, as the designated bargaining agent for all TRU faculty (including instructors, librarians, counsellors, coop/career educators, educational coordinators, instructional designers etc.), bargains with TRU administration. Technically, the employer is the TRU University Board of Governors and the Board must ultimately ratify any new collective
agreement, but senior TRU administrators form the employer’s bargaining team. TRUFA’s bargaining team consists of some members of the Salary and Working Conditions Committee and other elected TRUFA officers. The final decision on bargaining team composition is made by the TRUFA Executive.
2. Unlike other college and university faculty associations in FPSE whose employers are represented by the Post-Secondary Employers’ Association (PSEA), TRU and the other research universities (UBC, SFU, UVic, Royal Roads and UNBC) do not have an umbrella employers’ association; rather, they bargaining directly with their unionized associations.
3. However, both PSEA employers and the universities (including TRU) must adhere to the guidelines established by the Public Sector Employers’ Council (PSEC), a group of employer representatives from all “public” institutions including hospitals, courthouses, post-secondary institutions, hospitals, and crown agencies, chaired by the BC Minister of Finance. These guidelines invariably include a total compensation “mandate,” by which the government is able to control expenditures on public sector settlements. Previous PSEC mandates have limited more than just the salary increases to faculty, but have also limited the total amount of money employers could spend as a result of changes to collective agreements.
While Lloyd is providing some specific details about decisions made at the conference and what they may mean for TRU faculty as we begin a bargaining year, I want to focus on the broader issue of lobbying government. For the first time in a while, government decision-makers are talking to faculty associations across the province and – much more importantly – LISTENING to our concerns. Other FPSE Presidents and I met with the Minister of Advanced Education, Melanie Mark, on September 28th to raise concerns about anti-union legislation passed in 2002 (see below for update), much-needed new legislation promoting faculty majorities on both Special Purpose Teaching Universities’ (Kwantlen, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and Capilano) and TRU’s Senate, in addition to the issues I raised before the legislative committee. While the Minister made no commitments about amending the TRU Act to bring it more in line with the University Act’s composition of the academic senates, she acknowledged the issue and expressed a willingness to have her Deputy and Assistant Deputy Ministers work with the academic community on these issues.
In 2002, the former government had legislatively barred certain college and university faculty and staff from serving on the Board of Governors, specifically employees who “have responsibility to negotiate with the board the terms and conditions of service of members of the association or adjudicate disputes regarding members of the university.” On October 4th, 2018 the BC legislature repealed that section of the University Act. This legislation, for example, would have prevented a faculty member who served on either the TRUFA bargaining team or the stewards’ committee from being elected to represent faculty on the TRU Board of Governors. That restriction has now been repealed.
On October 24th and 25th I will be participating in a comprehensive lobby of government and opposition MLAs in Victoria, highlighting post-secondary education issues. The FPSE Presidents will be meeting with the Premier and the Ministers of Labour and Advanced Education, as well as a number of other cabinet ministers and MLAs, including the BC Liberal critic for advanced education.
As part of the TRUFA campaign “It’s not TRUFA without “U,” the TRUFA Executive is hosting a new faculty orientation social in the Panorama Room, IB from 4:30 to 6 pm on October 17th. We have designated “new faculty” as those appointed to any position since 2016. I ask longer-time faculty to reach out to your “new” colleagues and pass on the information about this social. Members of the TRUFA Executive will be attending, TRUFA faculty handbooks will be distributed and members will have the opportunity to informally socialize. See the poster elsewhere in this Newsletter. [Martha, can Jack put a link here to the poster itself?]
Elsewhere in this month’s Newsletter, you will see a primer on how to log-in to the trufa.ca website, which will be the source of important updates, especially on the bargaining front. Led by TRUFA Communications Officer, Jack Massalski, the Communications Committee is working on the following initiatives:
* Posting of all TRUFA policies on the website
* Updating the posting of all TRUFA Executive minutes (up to and including May 2018) to the website
* Promoting the New Faculty Orientation event
* Assisting TRUFA Executive members to report regularly on developments from their constituencies—Faculties/Schools or TRUFA standing committees
* Labour Management Consultative Committee Meeting – TRUFA table officers and TRU senior administrators—on October 16th
* TRUFA meeting with department Chairs on October 16th
* TRUFA meeting with the CUPE 4879 table officers to discuss mutual concerns (tentatively set for October 17th)
* Western regional meeting. All western Canadian university faculty associations meet once each October, this year in Athabasca, Alberta (October 18th to 20th)
* Presentation on proportional representation to TRU students and faculty—October 23rd at 7 pm in the TRUSU Lecture Hall
* Victoria legislature lobby (October 23rd to 25th)
If you have any questions about these issues or you want to contact TRUFA for any reason, please consult the TRUFA Directory– http://trufa.ca/directory/
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President