Results of Special General Meeting
The University of Waterloo Staff Association held a Special General Meeting on July 23, 2013. Four separate motions were approved by the members present at the meeting resulting in the following changes:
- restructured monthly fees from three-tier flat rate to percentage
- created position of President-Elect in a one year term
- reduced the terms of President and Past-President to one year terms
- modified all Director terms from two years to three years
- changed the President's term to a full-time UWSA paid position
- increased fees to cover additional costs
UWSA President Carlos Mendes chaired the meeting. UWSA Past-President and Treasurer, Trevor Grove, UWSA Secretary, Jason Gorrie and Director Jeremy Steffler presented the rationale behind the motions (pdf). They indicated that demands on UWSA resources are growing both from increased staff use of UWSA services and enhanced opportunities to engage with University administration on staff advocacy issues. The UWSA is representing members, individually and collectively, at an increasing rate and is benefiting from a willingness on the part of the Administration to proactively engage the Association on projects, policies and community initiatives, which benefit all staff.
Fulfilling the requirements of the position of President has been difficult and time consuming, even with the four days per month release time traditionally provided by the University. Mendes indicated that the workload of his regular position on campus combined with the UWSA President position is almost equivalent to two full-time jobs. The University recognizes the work the UWSA has been doing on the behalf of staff and, while the final details are still under negotiation, has committed to provide half the annual funding for the full-time President position.
To address the noted issues and move towards a full-time UWSA President, a series of motions passed at the meeting focusing on a change to our fee structure, constitutional changes, and a fee increase within the new structure.
The first motion passed was to “restructure the UWSA fee structure to be based on a 0.24 percentage of salary”. The fee structure in place since 2007 was a three-tier flat rate:
- USG 1-6 paid $7/month
- USG 7-10 paid $11/month
- USG 11-21 paid $15/month
The former structure resulted in staff members at different salary levels paying a fee that represented, sometimes substantially, different proportions of their income. The membership was asked to consider moving to a uniform, fixed percentage of salary for everyone to address any perceived inequities. In addition, UWSA monthly fees have not increased since 2007. This 0.24% of salary represents a modest increase in revenue up to the level of USG 16. The increase is larger for the staff members who hold positions of USG 16 and above.
The second motion passed was the addition of a standard “Director Indemnification” provision in the UWSA Constitution.
The third motion passed encompasses the Constitutional changes (pdf) that provide for the new position and duties of President-Elect, a change from 2 to 3 year terms for all Directors, and details that provide for greater measures of accountability for the President position. While the proposed changes were prompted by consideration of a move to full-time President, the changes were presented to the membership for approval independent of this move, given the greater continuity and sustainability the changes would bring to the association.
The fourth motion passed was an increase of fees from 0.24 percentage of salary (passed in the first motion) to 0.28 percentage of salary. The additional 0.04 percent will address an increase in staff advocacy legal fees (0.01%) and the UWSA portion of the salary for a full-time President position (0.03%). For most staff the new fees represent an increase of only a few dollars per month. See the new monthly fee estimates per USG level on the UWSA dues chart (PDF).
These changes will allow the UWSA to become more proactive than reactive and allow for greater capacity of the Board to respond to members’ needs. Recent successes will place an additional on-going demand on UWSA resources:
- on going policy changes
- long term need to analyze staff survey results and build upon strengths and tackle weaknesses
- support implementation of recommendations adopted from the staff life cycle report
With the membership approving the proposed motion, the Board will now be proceeding with final negotiations with Administration as to how to move to a full-time President. Further details will be worked out over the coming months and be communicated to the membership in time for a November 2013 implementation.