President’s Message

Written by Brad Long, this article first appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of The Beacon.

I’m pleased to once again introduce our quarterly Beacon to all of our members. I hope you find this to be an informative and engaging vehicle for coming together in this collective enterprise we call the StFXAUT.

Since our last Beacon, negotiations over the latest one-time retirement incentive were finalized and the program was made available to our members; my thanks to Mary Oxner and Jacques Boucher who joined me in this effort.  The StFXAUT’s position was grounded in the principle that all groups represented by our bargaining unit be eligible (conditional on full-time continuing appointments), and we argued that the incentive be meaningful, the eligibility window not be too restrictive and that strong replacement language be included. Subsequent concerns from some members were then resolved to add a bit more flexibility into the program as it related to the continuation of teaching and to deal with the heterogeneity of our units. Of course there was the unavoidable issue that some members fell just outside of the eligibility window, and I appreciate the disappointment that came with this reality.  Ultimately, this was a program that was uncommon in our sector, and we feel it had the potential to benefit both those who retired under the plan and those of us who remain.

Preparations for contract negotiations are advancing well, largely due to the efforts of our Contract and Benefits Committee. Cory Bishop’s piece in this Beacon provides a brief update on the status of their efforts. Your input into the recent survey was very helpful to help name some of the issues and interests that will help guide our bargaining efforts; additional opportunities for members to add to and prioritize these items will be available. The Committee will help translate all this into contract language. Of critical importance to the Executive is the selection of our next Chief Negotiator and Negotiating Team. We are actively trying to identify members with an interest in and aptitude for taking on a leadership role on behalf of our members as we work toward concluding our Fourth Collective Agreement.

Along the same lines, capacity building and succession planning are on the Executive’s agenda. Several members of the Executive, including myself, have terms expiring this Spring and so several positions of importance to the healthy functioning of the Association need be filled. Do you have an interest in representing our members, advancing collegial working relations, and protecting and enhancing our collective workplace rights and working conditions? Some rewarding service positions await you!

On our agenda for the months remaining this Winter term are multiple items continuing to help individual members, either through the grievance process or not, as they seek resolution to some of the issues they face; feedback on the new online student evaluation (more properly referred to as ‘student opinion surveys’ elsewhere) needs to be brought before our members. Furthermore, our Communications Committee is working on the second phase of the Unionversity Infographic campaign we launched in the Fall with the Student’s Union and other campus unions. Look forward to a regular meeting of the Association on February 23 just after Reading Week for an update on these and other items.

As always, I thank you for your contributions, support, and interest. Good luck digging out from whatever snowbank you may find yourselves in after these past few storms.

In solidarity,