This is my final message to you, the members of AASUA, as your President. This has been an amazing year for the AASUA. So much was accomplished that is important to the future of the AASUA and for that of our members and I am leaving the AASUA presidency with a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Some of the highlights for me were:
Re-establishing relationships with Central Administration and the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) - The first few months were spent re-establishing communication and working relationships with our U of A Central Admin and CAFA. This was accomplished quickly, and it allowed us to then work effectively to solve outstanding grievances and member issues.
AASUA budget and financial performance - Through discussions with Central Administration, I was able to negotiate that the AASUA would receive the EI Rebate monies for one final transition year. This returned approximately $250,000 to our coffers and positioned us for what is likely to be a small financial surplus in our 2017-2018 year. Financial challenges will continue into the new financial year for the AASUA however because AASUA Council recently approved an approximately $400,000 deficit budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Launch of the new AASUA website - The idea for a new AASUA website was conceived in an afternoon conversation between our Executive Director Brygeda Renke and I during my first presidency (2015-2016), and both Brygeda and I worked some very long days and late nights this year to bring it to launch. AASUA members now have a very powerful and versatile platform for communication and information that we are only beginning to use effectively, and it is already transforming engagement with and between our members. I encourage all members to log into the website and discover its power (or problems! Please contact us if you have any!).
Job Action Committee Policy - Council, Executive and I worked over a period of three months to have this passed by Council and ready prior to the start of bargaining so that we were prepared with a plan should bargaining not go well. This policy is the road map for job action should it be needed in this or future rounds of bargaining and it was time invested in our future.
New AASUA Bylaws - As promised during my campaign, the bylaws needed to be finished and they were completed during my presidency. The AASUA Council will now work on putting them into operation by establishing supporting policies, and assessing whether the new bylaws "work" or need modification to enhance their operationalization.
Defending academic freedom of medical faculty in jobs contingent on clinical duties - Working with faculty members from the Faculty of Dentistry and Medicine (FOMD), their Dean, and the Alberta Medical Association, I was able to bring academic freedom issues experienced by clinical faculty to the fore, and how their clinical contracts could potentially compromise their academic freedom. This will be an ongoing challenge, and one that the AASUA is well-placed to address with our new President and our Academic Faculty Chair, both of whom are from FOMD.
Campus Food Bank - Presently, members may still redirect their dues to the Campus Food Bank. However, the Labour Code has specific provisions on how and when members may redirect dues. Council supported the Campus Food Bank for one year of transitional funding after we became a union, as it would no longer be receiving the approximately $41,000 annually from redirected dues. AASUA Council provided this transition funding because the Campus Food Bank is an important support for our students and their families, and it will provide the Campus Food Bank time to seek other sources of support for its efforts.
Workplace Anti-Harassment and Violence Policy - Was passed by Council at its meeting of June 21st. As an organization that has employees and volunteers, the AASUA is required by law to have policy and procedures on workplace harassment and violence. Prior to this policy, the AASUA had no process for addressing harassment, intimidation or violence between members while involved in Association business. With this new policy, the AASUA is now able to influence the environment in which our employees and volunteers operate so that steps can be taken to make employment and involvement with the AASUA a rewarding and safe experience.
Thank you to... I would like to take this opportunity to thank first and foremost our AASUA staff, led by Brygeda Renke (Executive Director and General Counsel) for their dedicated and enthusiastic service. The professionalism of Roxanne Rowe, Leanne Rosinski, Aly Koskela, Shelagh Prowse, Terry Sway and Don Perkins is exceptional, and I am grateful for the expertise and support they provided me and that they continue to provide to our members. I also thank all the members of Council, Executive and our many committees for their service; each person contributed to bettering the employment conditions for our members in their own way. I also congratulate all those volunteers elected to Executive and Council for the coming academic year; I think that this coming year will be even more productive than the last, and I look forward to continuing to serve and contribute as a Council representative for my faculty.
It was an honour and a privilege to serve as your president and I wish everyone a safe and satisfying summer.