TRUFA President’s Report to the Membership
Here is a short report on some new developments affecting TRUFA members.
Creating New TRUFA Standing Committee
At the October 13, 2017 TRUFA Executive meeting, a motion was passed to establish an ad hoc committee on Decolonization, Reconciliation and Indigenization. The committee, chaired by Dr. Shelly Johnson, was scheduled to meet for the first time during the second week of January. The TRUFA Executive will be bringing a motion to the April TRUFA AGM to change the union’s By-Laws to make this committee a permanent standing committee, whose chair will sit on the TRUFA Executive.
TRUFA Financial Review
On December 14th, TRUFA Treasurer Kevin Barrie, Administrative Assistant Marian Griffin and I met with Jerry Spice, our TRUFA accountant to review the 2016-2017 fiscal year in preparation for his issuing the engagement review report, which we provide to the members at the TRUFA AGM.
Jerry reported that both our finances themselves and our fiscal management are in very good order, and that he sees no cause for concern. He did make some recommendations about making some minor changes on how we report expenditures so as to provide the members with greater transparency and accountability, actions the Executive approved at the January 12th meeting. One change implemented was to boost the available funds in the TRUFA Member Assistance Fund, which allows members to apply for short-term loans to cover situations in which the insurance carrier denies Short Term or Long Term Disability claims, or when awaiting a grievance resolution that may reimburse or compensate the member for lost wages.
As I reported in the December TRUFA Newsletter, VP Star Mahara and I traveled to Williams Lake and held very productive meetings with our WL colleagues on November 30th and December 1st. I am happy to report that, thanks to lobbying by the Williams Lake Faculty Council—an informal, but extremely important academic body created by WL faculty—the TRU Provost has authorized the appointment of an Associate Dean who will serve in an academic leadership position at Williams Lake. The search committee for this appointment will include at least 50% WL faculty. Additionally, the Provost authorized the hiring of a .5 administrative assistant position to provide secretarial/clerical support for WL faculty.
Even though the Associate Dean position is a positive move toward better academic decision-making and more effective liaison between Kamloops departments and WL programs and their faculty, both the WL Faculty Council and TRUFA feel that appointment of tenure-track faculty is needed in HUMS, EML and Science programs at the WL campus in order to provide sustainable delivery of education. We will continue to advocate on behalf of WL programs as the South Cariboo / Chilcotin region needs to be adequately served by TRU.
TRU / TRUFA Labour Management Consultative Committee
The parties met on December 6th and discussed an important issue related to tenured faculty availability for departmental service during working days before, between and after instructional semesters. While the period between December 22, 2017 and January 7, 2018 was designated as “non-working days with pay” (Article 126.96.36.199), the period between the end of Fall 2017 classes and December 22nd are so-called “accountable” days. Faculty can request from their Chairs/Deans to take vacation during this period, but otherwise they have to be available for responding to students and departmental governance duties. These issues were communicated to department Chairs, who will raise them at department meetings.
The next monthly Labour Management Consultative Committee meeting is scheduled for January 24th.
“Fair Funding for TRU” Campaign—Phase Two
The TRUFA Communications Committee has initiated an online petition to allow TRU faculty, staff, administrators and community members to contact the Minister of Advanced Education directly and express support for a revision of the funding formula, which has left TRU underfunded and has made it more difficult for the University to meet its legislated mandate under the TRU Act.
TRUFA urges you to send the online petition by clicking on http://trufa.ca/funding-petition/. The provincial government will be issuing their 2018-2019 fiscal budget on February 20th. The more people send petitions to the Minister, copied to our local MLAs, the better chance we might have for a commitment to revise the funding formula.
FPSE and CAUT Developments
Following decisions made at the FPSE AGM last May, our Federation has launched a follow-up to the successful “Open the Doors” campaign. The new campaign is a concerted effort to lobby the new provincial government to enact a set of priorities developed by FPSE Presidents’ Council during our June 2017 retreat. Some of these priorities for the public post-secondary system:
- Removal of tuition fees from Adult Special Education programs, those programs designed to assist developmentally challenged adults with skill training for employment;
- Federal funding to develop and implement mandatory curricula on indigenous themes and support indigenous-led initiatives for indigenizing post-secondary institutions;
- Reduction of student debt by offering interest-free loans and non-repayable grants;
- Comprehensive review of the Industry Training Authority, restoring mandatory certifications (compulsory trades) and increasing apprenticeship placements;
- Legislation of pro rata compensation for contract faculty.
Over the next several months, FPSE will be developing briefing papers on these issues and working with provincial government ministries and local MLAs to push for these goals.
During the Parliamentary Lobby conducted by CAUT in November, I met with three MPs and delivered a prime message on behalf of CAUT: it is essential that the federal government invest in basic research and increase the budgets of tri-council granting agencies in order to make up for a decade of neglect. The 2018-2019 federal budget will be released in February and CAUT has been aggressively lobbying as part of the “Get Science Right” campaign, which was a reaction to the Harper rejection of evidence-based policy development. [By the way, the intent is to go well beyond “Science” itself and promote re-investment in Humanities, Social Science and all STEM programs.] CAUT Executive members met with the Minister of Science and Technology Kirsty Duncan in November and encouraged her to adopt the recommendations of the blue-ribbon panel she appointed in 2015, chaired by former U. of Toronto president David Naylor. The panel has recommended a 37% increase in annual funding for federal granting agencies – from the current $3.5 billion to about $4 billion, phased in over the next four years. A December 18, 2017 Globe and Mail story provides some details of this effort: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/sensing-a-moment-canadian-scientists-swing-for-the-fences/article37370472/.
If you have questions about any of these issues, please contact me.
Submitted in solidarity,
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President