TRUFA President’s Report to the Membership
Here are some highlights of the activities and issues with which I have been involved since my last report to TRUFA members in September:
TRU / TRUFA Consultative Committee – September 14th
Along with the TRUFA table officers, I attended the monthly meeting of the Consultative Committee, which includes on the administrative side, the Provost / VP Academic, the AVP Academic, the AVP Human Resources, the Director of HR, and the Dean of Arts. These are some of the issues discussed:
- The printing and distribution of the 2014-2019 Collective Agreement is being held up by a dispute between the parties regarding Article 10.8—Course Registrant Maxima. Documentary evidence supports TRUFA’s position that this article applies to all instructional faculty and does not exclude Continuing Sessional or Sessional faculty.
- TRUFA continues to call for a joint working group to address salary anomalies among long-time faculty members at the Full Professor rank.
- TRUFA has agreed to a TRU imitative to implement an Equity Audit, investigating whether faculty members’ salaries, workloads, tenure/promotion applications, and sabbatical leave applications may have been affected by gender, race, sexual orientation or other factors.
- Questions still remain regarding the TRU decision to deliver courses in Accounting and other Business disciplines to a group of students from Tianjin University of Technology under the terms of contract training, rather than in accordance with the TRU / TRUFA Collective Agreement.
- A round-table discussion on creating a culture of respect and civility was also held.
TRU Administrative Town Hall – September 15th
As part of the “open governance” initiative announced on July 15th, the TRU President and the three Vice Presidents—Academic & Provost, Advancement, and Finance & Administration—faced questions from the TRU community for 90 minutes in the CAC Grand Hall. Most of the questions came from faculty members and focused on governance, consultation, release for Chair duties, and course/program approval processes. TRUFA has welcomed the Town Hall concept as a first step toward achieving increased accessibility of senior administrators. Although the President and the Vice Presidents responded to the questions carefully and respectfully, their follow-through in the form of concrete actions and a full commitment to work collegially with departments, Faculty Councils and TRUFA will determine whether this “open governance” is, indeed, a move forward toward an improved relationship between faculty and administrators. On behalf of TRUFA, I look forward to constructive engagement with TRU administration on the one important labour relations issue raised at the Town Hall, that of ensuring that department Chairs have appropriate and equitable release time in order to fulfill their wide-ranging obligations.
Select Standing Committee for Finance and Government Services – September 20th
I addressed the all-party legislative committee during their Kamloops appearance. My major focus was on the fact that the provincial operating grant funding formula does not take into account the unique mandate of our University under the TRU Act. The legislation requires TRU to offer baccalaureate and master’s level programs, to offer adult basic education and training, to undertake and maintain research and scholarly activities in support of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and to “serve the education and training needs” of our region. In addition to a failure by government to fund our comprehensive programming, the per-student allocation leaves TRU behind even some of the special purpose teaching universities and two-year community colleges. Overall, provincially, funding for post-secondary education has fallen by about 20% over the past 15 years when adjusted for inflation. In 2001, the provincial operating grant represented 60% of TRU’s revenue and student tuition represented about 18%. In 2015-2016, the grant represented only 42%, and student tuition, 41%.
TRUFA and FPSE are making the following recommendations for inclusion in the 2017 provincial budget:
- the reinstatement of tuition-free Adult Basic Education programs and Adult Special Education at TRU and at all our post-secondary institutions.
- improved funding support for students, both in terms of a revitalized student grant program and for student services, to ensure students can complete programs and degrees in a timely way and without the burden of a heavy debt load.
- an overall funding formula that better responds to the cost pressures faced by BC’s post-secondary institutions. Specifically, a comprehensive, consultative review to address core funding needs for all of BC’s public colleges, institutes and regional universities as well as appropriate funding levels to reflect the specific mandates of each post-secondary institution—such as those that relate to TRU.
FPSE Presidents’ Council Meeting—September 22nd / 23rd
I attended the meeting of the faculty association presidents of all 20 locals belonging to the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC. Much of our discussion focused on the following issues:
- The Open the Doors public post-secondary education campaign. Details about TRUFA’s activities as part of the campaign are found in this Newsletter. A delegation from FPSE will attend the Union of BC Municipalities meeting this week in Victoria to gain support for the campaign from municipal mayors and councils.
- The strategic priorities of the Federation leading up to the May 2017 provincial election. These priorities include lobbying the BC political parties to include improvements to funding and operations of post-secondary education in their election platforms.
- Preparing for the bi-annual convention of the BC Federation of Labour to be held in late November in Vancouver. I’m pleased to report that TRUFA’s resolution on responding to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, already approved at the FPSE AGM in May, will be brought forward to the Federation of Labour for endorsement by the labour movement. The resolution calls on educators and labour unions to work with indigenous peoples to educate our members and the broader community about the realities of the colonization of First Nations and the abuses of the Residential Schools, plus to lobby the Canadian government to live up to its legal obligations under United Nations human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples declarations.
Submitted in solidarity,
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President