“The Members Have Spoken”

The headline on the latest edition of the AASUA’s Rhumblines declares that “The Members Have Spoken” in the AASUA ratification vote on the “Dual Tentative Proposals.”

Have they?

The AASUA comprises about 4,400 members.

The numbers from the vote: 743 members voted for the proposals; 523, against.

Let’s do a little quick math, shall we?

1266/4400 = 29%

743/4400 = 17%

That’s right: fewer than 3 in 10 members cast a vote on these proposals, with every trio within that third having one member voting for, one member voting against, and one riven down the middle. 

To put it another way: Seven out of 10 members left the decision to the 29% who voted, and what did that 29% decide? That they are divided on the matter.

And the only thing the seven out of ten who did not vote can be said to have endorsed is letting a minority decide.

Another 12% has formally registered their non-endorsement, and only 17% of the membership approves of these proposals.

Seventeen percent. Fewer than 1 in 5.

That’s not exactly a mandate, is it? Especially when we remember that the 17% who have approved the proposals include members of the administration.

One wonders what the Board of Governors will make of this.

Will the Board be content that only 1 in 5 of the Association’s members has approved the proposals? 

Even if it is, it is now time for us to keep our eye on the Terms of Reference, which we have been told will remain fluid. If the Board of Governors approves the proposals, and the Renaissance Committee goes forward with the work, Rhumblines tells us:

Both widespread consultation and interim reports from the committee will aim to render its year of work as transparent as possible.

With only 17% of the membership voting for these proposals, the very least we need to do is hold the AASUA to its promise that the Committee for which it will supply half of the members will aim for transparency. Of course, we really need more from it than that. We want engagement. We especially need dedicated and significant engagement with the constituency that will be most affected by these proposals. The Renaissance Committee will furnish recommendations of such momentous implications for the institution that the AASUA Officers should make it a matter of honour to ensure that the ratification of those recommendations comes from a truly significant percentage of the membership. Look for initiatives on this front in the Fall from members of the Faculty of Arts and the Academic Faculty Committee of the AASUA.

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This entry was posted in University of Alberta Compensation Negotiations 2012 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “The Members Have Spoken”

  1. Kathleen Lowrey says:

    (cross-posted from Whither)

    I wonder if there would be a way to propose CAUT assisting the Academic Faculty Committee on a “contingency” basis: we need access to a legal defense fund, but AASUA is obviously not going to let us use any of their (ample) funding to sue them for failing to represent our interests. But might CAUT do so if there was a way for them to (potentially) recoup the cost? Right now, AFC is on the “outside” of the AASUA clamoring to get in, so to speak (they wouldn’t even let us have access to an email list of our members). If CAUT helped us “get in”, that is, force AASUA to represent our interests, once we accomplished this we could repay CAUT out of AASUA funds, if we won a legal fight to get AAUSA to fulfill its organizational obligations to actually effectively represent us.

    A gamble for CAUT, but perhaps an interesting one?

    An alternative strategy would be to organize ourselves as faculty to coordinate proper campaigns, with proper platforms, so as to elect more effective reps to AASUA Council. These two things could be happening simultaneously, of course, and both would take several years to take shape.

    In the meantime, faculty could re-direct their dues. One serious drawback to this, should lots of us do it, is that a firehose of money would suddenly be pouring into the Campus Food Bank. I happened to be on Council the year the charity designee was voted on, and I advocated for student bursaries instead of the CFB but the CFB won the vote. I certainly think if the amount of money being re-directed from dues was to grow tremendously as part of a faculty protest that student bursaries would be a better destination for it than the CFB, *particularly* in light of the fact that the attack on faculty is being paired with attacks on students. But again, to change the charity designee in this way would require going through a Council that is currently hostile to faculty interests.

  2. Realist says:

    I hate to break it to you, but 83% of your colleagues just don’t care what you think.

  3. Kathleen Lowrey says:

    And then there are the pseudonymous ankle-biters, who care in their own special way. A particularly sad demographic slice of the pie, that lot.

  4. Carolyn Sale says:

    “Realist,” is it possible you have a brand of humour that doesn’t transfer well in succinct Web statements? For your statement comes across as very rude. Surely you are not content with the faculty’s lack of demonstrated concern about these issues. If you are, may I suggest you trade in your ‘realism’ for some idealism, and help pitch in to create a more informed and engaged faculty? The world is what we make it.

  5. Laurie Adkin says:

    Just wondering where the 83 % figure comes from?

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