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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2007

What a Difference 12 Years Make

By Greg Allain

CAUT on the Move (Part 3)

In my last two columns, I used the opening in February of our new office building in Ottawa as an occasion to reflect on CAUT’s growth since 1994, when our former building was inaugurated. So far I’ve looked at our membership growth and our expanded activities and services on the academic freedom front and in collective bargaining. In this issue, I examine the greatly enhanced portfolio of courses and workshops offered by CAUT, the increased number of our publications and our broadened range of awards.

Education is a key element of any overall development agenda, whether for an academic staff association or union, or in most types of associations, and especially in a national organization like CAUT. This is true both to raise awareness of crucial issues among private citizens and political decision-makers and to help our own members and the executive officers of our member associations. Accordingly, CAUT has made education a high priority and has developed a comprehensive array of programs, from conceptual courses to hands-on application workshops that are offered on-site and at no charge to associations.

The introductory collective bargaining course has been a regular staple for quite some time and in response to strong demand has been offered eight times locally in the past year alone. Health and safety training is a relatively new and most welcome addition, and this course was provided in four locales this year. Our newest addition, advancing gender equity, has already been offered at five locations since its launch last fall. The one-day media and communications workshop was presented twice last year and several times this year and one intellectual property workshop was held.

A few years ago, borrowing from the most effective trade union educational programs in Canada, CAUT trained some of its members as instructors so it could make its courses and workshops more widely available. One good example is the introduction to grievance handling, which was offered six times last year, four of which were given by our member-instructors. Another example is the executive and council/board training course held once last year.

The capability of having trained members in various regions of the country give our courses helps
us decentralize some of our services and offer even more courses to satisfy the needs of our member associations. This is a step in the right direction, but there is still room to grow: media and communications and collective bargaining are examples where instructors could be CAUT-trained for course offerings.

In addition to these occupational training and educational programs, CAUT also offers opportunities for individuals with similar responsibilities to get together not only to learn about the latest developments in their field but also to network and share information and experiences with peers from around the country. It’s in this spirit that over the past few years, CAUT has designed a presidents’ workshop, a chief negotiators’ forum, a senior grievance officers’ workshop, and most recently, a presidents’ forum. Since their inception, these outreach sessions have been well attended (by more than 40 individuals on average at each session) and well received.

Another part of CAUT’s outreach effort is our publications, the range of which has greatly expanded since 1994, as anyone familiar with our operations can attest to. In the print medium, CAUT offers our flagship publication, the CAUT Bulletin (already exisiting prior to 1994, but in an expanded format compared to earlier years), the Education Review, the Legal Review, Facts and Figures, health and safety fact sheets, bargaining and legal advisories and the CAUT Almanac — now in its fourth edition and widely recognized as the data source par excellence on Canadian post-secondary education. Many of these publications are also available online.

Our new e-mail newsletter, Newswire, containing news and information feeds, compliments our print-based communications. We also publish an annual directory of university and college corporate board linkages that can be searched online for specific text. In addition, our book series published by James Lorimer & Company and started in 1999 with Universities for Sale: Resisting Corporate Control over Canadian Higher Education now has eight titles, with the addition this year of Free Speech in Fearful Times: After 9/11 in Canada, the U.S., Australia & Europe.

Another area of growth has been in our awards repertoire. It is so important to recognize outstanding contributions to the goals we all strive for! By 1994, CAUT had two national prizes: the Milner Award, established in 1969 to recognize outstanding achievements on the academic freedom front and the Sarah Shorten Award, created in 1990 to reward exceptional commitment to advancing the cause of women.

Five new categories have been added to the list of awards presented by CAUT since 1994: the Academic Librarians’ Distinguished Service Award (1994); the Donald C. Savage Award (1997) to acknowledge outstanding work in the area of collective bargaining; the Excellence in Education Journalism Awards (2001); the Dedicated Service Award (2003) given to local individuals chosen by their associations and the Distinguished Academic Award to recognize academics who have made exceptional contributions to all three aspects of our work — teaching, research and service.

I would especially like to focus on the dedicated service awards as they go to those who play the most fundamental role in CAUT’s work — the local association activist. In March, I was pleased to hand out three such awards at my own association’s annual general meeting in Moncton, honouring some of our union’s founding members. And last month in Kingston, I handed out service awards to 18 colleagues who had been both instrumental in certifying the Queen’s University Faculty Association 12 years ago and negotiating a first collective agreement. To these individuals and to all other recipients of dedicated service awards, I say a resounding Bravo!

Rendezvous in September for Part 4 of this series: CAUT’s enhanced role on the international scene.