Our review of By-Laws was sparked by a change in the provincial legislation governing non-profit organizations such as SFUFA. In 2016, BC replaced the Society Act with a new Societies Act, altering several terms and requiring all organizations covered by the old Act to transition to the new one. This seemed an opportunity to review our existing By-Laws in full, and to discuss various questions related to our governing structure. The Executive wanted to re-consider its structure, and the terms of office for President Elect and President in particular. The following summary reviews the intent of the proposed revisions; a link below the summary will take you to a document that includes the details of existing language and the proposed revisions.
Section I – the changes proposed here simply make our By-Laws consistent with our current membership, updating the list of those eligible for membership to include employment categories and ranks that have been introduced since the By-Laws were last updated. This language brings our constitutionally-defined membership into accordance with our membership as defined by the Labour Relations Board for collective bargaining purposes.
Section II – changes here are designed to achieve the same purpose as noted above. Additionally, we are proposing replacement of the term “Active Member” with “Member”, as we have no provision to distinguish Active from Inactive Members. Finally, we suggest replacing the term “Membership fee” with “dues”, to make the By-Laws consistent with practice.
Section III – here, too, we are only bringing the language of the By-Laws into accordance with the practice. Provision for a pro-rated fee is unnecessary, as dues are always collected on a pro-rated basis.
Section IV – SFUFA does not have the ability to revoke any individual’s membership, so we propose striking this section. Provision for members to opt out as a matter of conscience are provided in the Labour Relations Code. The limits here are spelled out in the Code, and were in place at SFU long before we certified as a trade union. The proposed changes, then, have no impact on our long standing legal framework or practice.
Section V – Here we propose substantive changes to the structure of the Executive.
It has been the experience of the organization for some time that a single year Presidency is too short. We propose a model that is more functional, and in line with the practice of the vast majority of faculty associations in Canada – that is, a Vice President and President, each elected for two year terms, with no automatic movement from VP to President. We also propose eliminating the role of Past President, which was originally introduced in order to compensate for the fact that the presidential term was a single year. To ensure the the President has a functional knowledge of the work of SFUFA, we propose a requirement that candidates for President must have served on the Executive at sometime in the past.
The remaining changes in this section simply provide greater detail on existing processes for electronic voting, and ensure that the By-Laws reflect the long stranding practice of employing professional staff to manage the daily affairs of SFUFA.
Section VI – proposals here are largely designed to bring our By-Laws into accord with the terms the new Societies Act. There is, however, one more substantial change proposed. Currently the Association must hold a General Meeting each semester, as well as an Annual General Meeting. This means that a) in the Spring we formally hold two separate meetings on a single day (Spring GM and AGM), and in the Summer we are constitutionally bound to hold a meeting even if there is little to report or decide. The proposal is to allow us to merge the Spring GM and AGM into a single AGM, and to remove the constitutional requirement for a Summer meeting. This does not mean that Summer meetings would never be held; rather, it would mean they would not have to be held if there was no active business to conduct.
The proposal to amend the By-Laws is brought forward by the SFUFA Executive Committee following a detailed review of our governing structures, and has been subjected to legal review in order to ensure we are in compliance with the terms of the new Societies Act. Changes not discussed above – i.e. proposed reorganization of the chronological order of the By-Laws – are not intended to have any substantive impact on SFUFA’s governance, but arise from recommendations of legal counsel to provide greater consistency and clarity.
A complete draft of the By-Laws, including existing language and proposed changes, can be found at the following link: