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    • 19 SEP 23
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    Establishing Procedures to Enhance Collegial Governance

    This Labour Relations Advice was originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of the FSA’s Voice Newsletter.

    For the better part of the past two years, the FSA has been conducting training across the Institute to better inform our members of their collegial governance rights and responsibilities. Our members have robust rights when it comes to Departmental planning, including but not limited to coverage/workloading, vacation scheduling, and processes for assembling selection committees. In practice, however, asserting these rights requires Departments have established operational conventions. The governance practices of BCIT Departments are not dictated by external statutes in the way that, say, a non-profit society in BC may be governed by the provincial Societies Act. Departments are instead defined by the Collective Agreement (CA), which does not contain programmatic procedural details. As a result, your Department can be guided by ‘commonsense’ or ‘reasonableness’ when making procedural decisions. In transitioning from understanding rights in principle to using them in practice, there are some basic steps a Department may take. This Labour Relations tip will focus on calling and then conducting a reasonable Department meeting.

    Calling a Departmental meeting:

    • Make the timing convenient
    • Include any specific language for a decision known ahead of time
    • Ensure that all Department members are invited and that a reasonable amount of notice is provided—say two weeks or more
    • Consider using Zoom, either as a hybrid option or fully online, especially if Department members are spread out geographically
    • Remember that your manager is a member of the Department, so be sure to include them in the invitation
    • If one sends out a message to everyone in the Department, providing all an opportunity to participate at a fairly convenient forum, Departmental business can be said to have proceeded reasonably.

    During the meeting:

    • Keep a written record of any decisions, noting at least:
      • Attendees
      • Exact language of decision
      • Date and Time
      • Results
    • Typically, a decision is made by vote, and it is perfectly reasonable to use 50 percent as a threshold for that vote, especially where a decision of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ must be made
    • It is good practice to keep notes regarding the preceding discussion
    • In general, group decision making requires that everyone have an opportunity to speak to the proposal in question
    • Let individuals that haven’t spoken speak before those who have spoken twice or more already
    • If the language is available ahead of time, provide individuals who cannot attend the meeting the opportunity to submit their comments
    • After the meeting, share the record of the decision with the members and your manager, noting where the record will be stored permanently so that all parties can refer to it as needed

    These points constitute advice on how to successfully establish protocols through which strong collegial governance practices may follow. By instituting these practices, it becomes very clear that your Department has made a decision together, which in turn supports claims to democratically established protocols.

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