UBC Faculty Association Presidential Election

Voting for the UBC Faculty Association President and three Members-at-Large opened today and will remain open for two weeks (ending March 27th).  Solo candidates for other open executive committee positions were acclaimed, including me as Vice President for a 2-year term starting on July 1st.

I never expected to run again for a position on the FA Executive Committee, having had a multi-year stint on the Executive, including as Vice President and then President.

Why would I run again?

I have been concerned about the state of the Faculty Association for some time for reasons related the UBC Administration’s approach to its relationship with the Faculty Association, which I saw in some detail when I sat on the Board of Governors, and related to the apparent internal dynamics of the Association, particularly as an employer itself.

While I suspect many UBC faculty give little thought to their union (or even imagine themselves in a union), I know how important it is for UBC’s faculty to have a strong and well-functioning faculty association.

Two of the core labour relations functions of the UBCFA are to undertake collective bargaining and to manage grievances (informal and formal).

The UBCFA recently settled a 3-year collective agreement that pushed the boundaries of the so-called “mandate” set by the provincial government. The settlement includes a reasonable salary settlement, some improvements in benefits, and some improvements to terms of employment for members.

Member-related grievances are overseen by our Member Services and Grievances Committee, and operationally managed by the FA’s staff. This is hard work, and it requires both the Executive Committee and the FA staff to work together, and in support of each other, to meet their respective obligations to the membership.

We have two candidates for President of our faculty association in this election:  Dr Nason, who is the current President, and Dr Petrina, who is the current Vice President.

Based on their candidate statements, they present extraordinarily different visions for the future of the Faculty Association.

Dr Nason has outlined some of the successes of the Faculty Association during her presidency (which I believe she would attribute to the collective work of many) and her vision of the work she would do to make the UBCFA a stronger and more inclusive faculty association during a second term.

Dr Petrina presents a call to the membership to make dramatic changes to the Faculty Association, which he apparently sees as failing its membership through  its current policies and practices. Indeed, he sharply criticizes the FA’s efforts in bargaining and in grievance management.

Does Dr Petrina offer us a reasoned and reasonable process for the dramatic transformation of the Faculty Association he is campaigning to implement? How will he convince the Executive Committee (and ultimately, the membership) his vision is the right direction for the Faculty Association, and how will he engage the Executive Committee to build out a detailed plan for his called-for revolution? Does he offer significant evidence the Faculty Association is truly failing to properly serve its members?  These are some of the many questions Dr Petrina’s call-to-arms raises for me.

While I could support a process to assess how well the Faculty Association is serving its members, I cannot support drastic changes to the Association without strong evidence such changes are essential to a healthy future for the Association and its members. Nor can I support making changes to the Faculty Association without bringing them, in detail, to the membership for a direct vote.

Thus, I will be voting for Dr Nason for President.



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