One important agenda item, carried over from last years AGM is making last year's modest dues increase permanent. Over the past year, the increase allowed APSA to better support our ongoing mission of advocacy, pension and salary and benefits negotiations for our members, as well as hire an additional staff resource.
Last Year's Increase
Since the last dues increase over 17 years ago, membership has doubled, overall services have expanded and staff numbers have grown to meet members’ needs.
Last year's increase in dues from 0.45% to 0.61% equaled an added $4 per paycheck from an average biweekly salary of $2600. In this report, discover where the $4 has been used, why it’s still needed, how the rest of your dues are used and frequently asked questions and answers about the increase.
How we got here
In 2008, the Executive Board crafted a Strategic Plan that identified deficiencies and expressed the work and priorities that the Board and staff needed to complete in order to support membership effectively.
For three years, the reserve fund supported the Plan’s initiatives. Last year, the Board determined three key initiatives that needed to be permanent fixtures:
- Increase support for APSA committees volunteers
- Increase support to APSA members
- Expand administrative staff to implement services
At last year’s AGM, it was resolved that,
“Whereas it is in the members’ interest for APSA to improve the services provided to its membership, and whereas it is in the members’ interest that decisions about major increases to the APSA dues structure should be given due time and information for the membership to make an informed decision,
be it resolved that Association membership dues will be increased from .45% of gross salary to .61%, effective January 1, 2012 and that this increase will be in effect for a period of one year.
Be it further resolved that the Association Director provide a report to membership no later than 1 month in advance of the next AGM on the improvements to member services resulting from the increased dues.
Be it further resolved that a resolution to make the dues increase permanent be considered at the 2012 AGM.”
As mentioned above, the increase in dues funded three key initiatives; increased support for committee volunteers, ensured the sustainability of APSA and expanded administrative staff to implement services.
The expansion of administrative staff is heavily used for increasing support for committees and ensuring the sustainability of APSA. Therefore, it is included under these two initiatives.
1/6 of all member dues, including the increase, are allocated to the legal fund.
- Legal Counsel available for cases such as the CUPE challenge and legal support for negotiations.
- Legal opinion sought in all cases that could result in termination. (Prior to 2008, access to legal council was provided only to members whose position had been eliminated).
Supporting APSA Committees
- Increased interest in committee work and number of volunteers on committees.
- Boost in Board nominations resulted in elections.
- Experienced consultants hired to help the Salary & Benefits Committee prepare for agreement negotiations and negotiate on APSA’s behalf every two years.
- Experienced pension consultant and actuary hired to provide advice, prepare documents and negotiate changes to the pension plan.
- Yearly training for Advocacy members alerts advocates of changes in labour laws and better equips them to take on cases.
- Yearly strategic planning retreat for Executive Board moves the Association forward.
- Executive Director now takes on complex, time-consuming advocacy cases since the Advocacy Committee’s request for the Executive Director to take on a greater role was approved.
- Staff member attends all committee meetings to provide research, knowledge transfer, technical support and minutes.
- Staff member for each committee saves valuable time for the chairperson and others to focus on the relevant discussion.
- Committees’ centralized space on APSA Central (apsacentral.ca) enables document sharing, private discussion forums and confidential and login-protected information.
Supporting APSA Members
- Fostering joint relations with University Administration and enhanced communication resulted in better negotiations outcomes.
- Members have increased representation in all employment matters involving Human Resources.
- Increased quality and quantity of communication from APSA office to members, committees to committees and committees to members.
- Strengthened knowledge base (apsacentral.ca) with news feeds, social media tools, archived information and committee specific sections.
- Shared document repository decreases time spent “finding” and “sharing” information.
- Increased staff and technical support to manage and keep APSA Central updated.
- Increased APSA’s profile and presence at Liaison meetings, BC University staff association conferences and employee council meetings.
- Started data retention and knowledge transfer from Board and committees.
- Replenishing the reserve (drawn on since 2008) to contain six months operating costs for the Association for fiscal responsibility.
- Increased quantity of APSA-sponsored professional development opportunities for members held at Burnaby campus.
- Higher participation rates for annual Surrey and Vancouver socials.
- Easier event registration process for members and office.
- Increased staff resources to organize, communicate and carry out events.
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1. How does APSA’s proposed dues structure compare to other staff groups at SFU?
Number of members
Number of staff
2. What was the revenue from the increase?
The increase in dues resulted in approximately $100,000 of funding. This number will fluctuate at times due to changes in membership numbers.
3. Before making the dues increase permanent, can the reserve (surplus) be drawn from to cover costs?
From 2008 to 2011, the reserve (surplus) was used to fund strategic initiatives such as the Knowledge Base (APSA Central site), the communication position and increasing the profile of APSA. Now, it is time for these items to be moved to the general operating budget.
Additionally, in accordance to the Reserve Policy, the reserves must contain at least six months operating costs at all times.
4. Could volunteers cover the work consultants and staff carries out?
Consistency is key when it comes to running an efficient operation. Due to volunteer time constraints and turnover it is extremely difficult to achieve continuity when fulfilling APSA’s organizational goals.
Furthermore, when it comes to APSA's hired consultants, expert skills are needed to assist with such tasks such as pension negotiations or act as legal advocates on the CUPE challenge. Not only does this work have major impact on APSA members, it often requires significant knowledge in industry practices.
5. Could the legal fund be used to pay for consultants?
No, the purpose of the legal fund is to cover costs for members’ legal cases, legal opinion and legal counsel.
6. Part of the making the increase permanent is to support the Communication & Engagement Coordinator position. Can this position be shared with other associations on campus or be part time?
APSA work varies significantly from other departments on campus. Negotiations, committee meetings and professional development events are scheduled throughout the week making a shared position difficult. The amount of work APSA needs to complete requires a full time position.
7. When was the last dues increase?
The last dues increase was 17 years ago in 1995. At that time, APSA had 400 members and 1.3 staff members.
8. How would it affect APSA if the dues increase was not made permanent (not approved)?
If the increase is not made permanent, the Association will be unable to balance future budgets without cutting programs, services or other member benefits.