RRUFA Minutes – Oct 2017

Present: Mike Thompson,Ryan Lee, Rob Mittelman, Siomonn Pulla, Kathleen Manion, Marnie Jull, EvaMalisius, Robin Cox, Ken Christie, Virginia McKendry, Elizabeth Hartney, HilaryLeighton, Rick Kool, David Black (acting secretary in Niels Agger-Gupta’sabsence), Jennifer Walinga, Julia Jahansoozi, Zhenyi Li, Tony Boydell, ShelleyJones, Carolin Rekar Munro, Tamara, Todd Thexton, Devina Dandar

1. Call to order at 12:10

2. Approval of September 2017 minutes

Motion: to approve minutes from September 2017 RRUFA meeting. Minutes approved.

3. New business

3.1 Greater discretion available to the president and executive for certain spending items relating to training, accounting, strike funds at other associations, and a discretionary fund

Moved by Ryan, seconded by Robin

Motion: That RRUFA amend the approved 2017 budget to include the following expense items:

Ken explains the motion, and indicates that he asked Jo and Ryan to consider what might be done here with the RRUFA president and RRUFA executive’s spending discretion relative to training, accounting, strike fund, and discretionary fund.

Ryan explains that the numbers provided here are based on what have been our customary spending patterns.

Todd raises the question of whether this is a surplus budget, and whether these items were drawn from general expenses in the past.

Rob asks whether there is a process at RRUFA for determining which items are included in a budget, and how new items are added to the organization’s spending priorities and norms in a given year.

Ken says that RRUFA receives subsidized training from CAUT for training in bargaining and grievance service, and is also a party to the CAUT Academic Defense Fund, thus ensuring that we have strike funds should that we need it. We would ultimately benefit by that strike fund in the case of a labour action at RRUFA.

Eva suggests that we call the line item “strike fund support” rather than “strike fund.” There is general agreement that this is a good idea.

Robin asks whether there is a limit on how much RRUFA might contribute to a given strike fund at another FA, relative to the entire amount dedicated to the line item for strike fund support in the RRUFA budget in a given year.

Ryan explains the value of the president and executive’s discretion over the strike fund support fund, among items similarly listed. He says that there is some ambiguity in our bylaws with regard to how much discretion is allowed and for what expenditure.

Eva speaks to the fact that the bylaws have been published to the RRUFA website.

The motion is put to a vote, and passes unanimously.

3.2 Changing the frequency of RRUFA meetings from a monthly to a bimonthly schedule

Ken moves and Zhenyi seconds.

Motion:   It’s moved that RRUFA shift from a monthly to a bimonthly schedule.

A lengthy discussion of this motion follows.

Ken speaks to the value of moving to a bimonthly pattern for meetings, as this might improve attendance, reduce costs, solve the problem of finding space on campus, our agendas less thin, and make our meetings more productive and intensive.

Hilary suggests a 2-hour meeting structure.

A colleague suggests meeting 8 times a year, rather than every 2 months.

Marnie asks whether we should wait for the renewal survey to see if there is need to reduce meeting.

Jennifer asks whether we should learn more about why people are not attending before we move to a 2-month cycle.

Rather than putting the motion to a vote, we invite Rick to present on his survey.

Rick now presents on his survey. We had 52 replies from the FT membership, the total of RRU full-time faculty being approximately 75. Here are some key observations:

  • Some 70% were very or largely happy at being in unionized faculty association.
  • Some 54% believed that RRUFA had greatly or largely made a difference in their professional lives.

The 5 top roles for RRUFA indicated in the survey were identified with RRUFA’s bargaining role, not its other functions.

What were the top 3 accomplishments indicated for RRUFA:

  • Tenure
  • Research leave
  • Academic ranks and negotiated process for progression

65% of members believe they are heard and can discuss concerns with their executive.

43.5% of members have trust that the RRUFA executive is looking out for the RRU faculty, and 26.7% the University as a whole.

There is no discernible gender difference in regard to member views as to the value of RRUFA.

Marnie reflects on the primacy of the bargaining function within RRUFA. She raises the idea of professional development, collegiality and social functions relating to RRUFA as being as important to the Association as bargaining.

Ryan says that the fact that members rated bargaining-related issues as their “top 5” items does not mean that other non-bargaining items are less important.

Carolin says thanks to Rick for the survey and the conversation that has ensued. She adds that we might benefit by the qualitative comments he also collected, but has not prepared yet for distribution, and allow that as the basis for a further conversation at the November meeting.

Virginia offers her assistance to Rick to process the qualitative comments for use in November meeting.

In view of the long discussion of this motion, and the fact that Rick has yet to complete the preparation of the qualitative survey data, the motion was tabled until the November meeting.

3.3 Gender equity data

Mover and seconder?

Motion: The RRRUFA executive should pursue further steps, including legal options, regarding obtaining employee information relating to age, sex, and rank for bargaining purposes. (This is a motion to consult with the membership on these options, not a motion to take them.)

Virginia speaks to her attendance at the CUFA-BC meeting in Vancouver, and the issue of our difficulty in getting gender equity information from the employer. She says that CUFA-BC members felt that we were legally liable to not representing members effectively because we don’t have the gender data.

Siomonn says that we need to see whether there is a real liability here or whether this lack of information is not a serious legal liability.

Virginia says that this is an issue with some history.

Rick speaks to the need to be more aggressive with regard to access to the gender data, and pursue a legal course of action here.

Ken says that Allan Black says that a legal case would cost $10,000 maximum.

Eva supports a legal solution.

Ryan says that we can use the dues data to reverse engineer information relating to salary levels.

Ken says that such data might not be defensible in a bargaining situation, as it might not be entirely accurate.

Shelley asks whether we are legally liable or not, and need to confirm if that is the case.

Rob says that we should separate the issue of (1) the right to information and (2) what we then do with that information.

Siomonn suggests we have a motion to support a vote across the membership relating to whether we should pursue a legal course of action in attempting to obtain information relating to age, rank, sex and other personal information relating to our members for bargaining purposes.

Vote was unanimous except for 1. (Mike)

3.4 Other

Shelley raises the issue of the Ontario colleges strike.

Regular reports:

4.1 Bargaining

Wendy is absent. We discussed the need for a timeline.

4.2  Finance

No report.

4.3 Board of Governors

Jennifer’s recent election as the faculty representative to the Board of Governors was acknowledged and applauded by the membership.

Jennifer asks whether there are issues that concern faculty that she might bring to the BOG, though acknowledging that she is not there to represent faculty at the BOG.

Ken asks about indigenization. Carolin addresses the issue of how and whether Jennifer represents faculty at BOG. Rick says the important thing is that the BOG understand the nature of the faculty, what they do, what their interests and concerns are, etc. He says that the BOG once considered faculty as a “strategic threat.”

Jennifer says she has confidence in the new BOG chair, Kathleen Birnie. Jennifer says that the Board is thus far small, and seems committed and engaged with the role.

Jennifer says that she can share the BOG minutes with the RRUFA membership by way of educating the latter as to what the BOG is doing.

Mike says that he welcomed Charles’ previous presentations and candor, and that he’d like to see Jennifer continue with that tradition.

Jennifer asks how we might engage the BOG directors more and invite them to faculty events.

Ken suggests we invite Kathleen Birnie to a future RRUFA meeting, and Jennifer agrees to contact Kathleen.

4.4 Academic Council

Virginia, a member of Academic Council, speaks to this. At Academic Council, VP-A Steve Grundy spoke about his sabbatical, and addressed how universities are struggling with finance issues, among other themes. Virginia discusses the academic council retreat issue. A number of other issues are discussed, including Ashoka “change-making” and a change to our strategic plan.

Todd, who is on Academic Council, says that there was a lot of discussion of competitive struggle among the BC and Canadian universities, and that RRU’s competitive advantages (mid-career professionals, blended pedagogy) are not what they once were, since other universities are now able to offer similar features in their programs.

4.5 CUFA-BC Council

Virginia, who attended this meeting in Vancouver as RRUFA VP, speaks to this. At CUFA-BC, there was discussion of the recent election of the NDP to the provincial government, of STEM. There was also a dialogue with Melanie Marks, the new minister of Advanced Education, who was in attendance at the CUFA-BC meeting. Minister Marks discussed indigenization at the meeting.

4.6 Western Regionals for FA chairs

Ken speaks to his recent attendance in Prince George, joining other FA presidents from western Canada there. The topics under discussion there related to collective bargaining, workload, etc. 

4.7 CAUT Academic Defence Fund

Ken explains that this money is used to support FAs on strike. The money we donate to other FAs is an expression of solidarity, even if modest in amount given the small size of RRUFA.

4.8 Grievance Officer’s Report

Tamara has nothing to report.

4.9 Health and safety

Hilary speaks to the Great BC Shakeout and fire drills. There are new crosswalk lights at the top of the hill from Sooke Road at the University’s main entrance. Faculty should take an interest in health and safety. Hilary notes the health and safety issue relating to the darker winter weather and visibility.

Rick says the University is really focused on safety, less on health, citing the Rose cottage. There was a black mold issue in the four-plex at the top of the hill; a faculty member who stayed there complained of the black mold.

Hilary says the black mold issue was tested, and there was no immediate problem.

Hilary says that she is always open to hearing from colleagues on health and safety, and there is a broader issue relating to mental health. Eva says that at RRU we focus on student mental health, and not on faculty mental health.

Marnie raises the issue of HUMS cooperating to assist in a disaster management plan.

Jennifer says that it’s important to consult with Katharine Harrold, VP Communication and Advancement at RRU. Virginia says we need a forum where faculty, staff and the executive can talk with each other about institutional issues. Hilary says that this dialogue should be a feature of any change-making process.

Ken says that VP-A Steve Grundy admitted during his monthly meeting with Steve that we are at capacity and not able to innovate much or address new institutional challenges.

Carolin speaks to the MBA review and that reviewers talked about how we lack sufficient faculty in the SOB.

Jennifer addresses the institutional imperative, now renewed, towardgrowth, and there is some discussion whether enrollment growth should be amajor priority at RRU.

Meetingadjourned at 1:52 pm