The Faculty Association would like to take this opportunity to correct some factual inaccuracies in the article published by the Ubyssey on Tuesday, October 30, regarding proposed changes to our Constitution and Bylaws. Background information on the proposed changes can be found here or at www.facultyassociation.ubc.ca.
The Ubyssey article reported that the Faculty Association is “a professional association – not a trade union – which means it hires full-time employees to represent its members in labour relations issues.” That is not accurate.
The Faculty Association became a legal trade union under the BC Labour Relations Code (the “Code”) in 2000. As a legally recognized trade union, the Faculty Association has the exclusive jurisdiction to represent members in matters arising out of their employment with the University including through grievance and arbitration procedures. We must carry out our responsibilities in accordance with the standards set out under the Code. Like most other trade unions, the Faculty Association employs professional labour relations officers, called membership services officers (or MSOs), to work directly with members on employment-related matters. The Faculty Association has employed professional labour relations staff since at least the late 1990s. The Executive Director, who also handles member case files, and the MSOs meet with the Member Services and Grievance Committee on a monthly basis to review case files and receive input and direction from the bargaining unit members who serve on the committee. It is the members of the MSGC who make recommendations to the Executive Committee on grievance and arbitration matters, not the staff. Although the language describing the MSGC is being revised in the proposed bylaws, this change does not remove any duties from the MSGC but rather better describes the work of the committee.
In the course of doing its work, the Faculty Association collects the personal information of members, and we are required to protect that information in conjunction with our obligations under the Protection of Personal Privacy Act.
Our records and accounting records contain the personal information of members, particularly those members who have been involved in labour relations processes, including grievance and arbitration and human rights processes. Therefore, the information contained in those records is of a highly sensitive and personal nature (for example, medical information that is referenced in expert physician’s invoices, and legal accounts). We are therefore codifying protections to ensure that personal information is kept private and secure.
In order to ensure continued financial accountability and transparency the Faculty Association engages an external, professional, auditor to conduct a thorough audit of our financial records. The auditor’s report is shared with the membership at our annual general meeting along with the Association’s budget. The changes we are proposing balance our continued financial accountability with our members’ right to privacy.