The Langara Faculty Association (LFA) is the union representing faculty employed by Langara College. As a union we:
- negotiate and maintain collective agreements
- defend workplace rights
- represent faculty on college boards, councils, and committees
- host workshops, seminars and social events
- champion accessible, quality post-secondary education
- advocate through provincial and national labour organizations
Above all, we seek to support, represent and empower our members.
What is the role of the LFA Board?
The Board of Directors is the LFA’s governing body, collectively responsible for the business and administration of the union. Under the Constitution and By-Laws, there are 9 members on the Board of Directors: the President, the Vice President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and 5 Directors at large.
How long are Board terms?
Board members are elected annually by secret ballot in March and April each year for a 1-year term, and take office during the May Annual General Meeting.
Who can run for the Board?
Any member of the LFA who is in good standing can run for a position on the Board. It’s an asset, but not required, to have experience as a Chair, Assistant Chair or Coordinator, faculty leadership positions that involve some working knowledge of the Collective Agreement and College operations. Experience working across different areas of the College or on College-level committees is also helpful, but again not required. It’s helpful when as a whole, the Board has representation from different instructional and non-instructional departments and areas of the College. The LFA is also mindful that we are seeking equity, diversity and inclusion across all our operations, including Board elections. We are keen to encourage all members who may be interested to consider running and to contact any current Board member directly if you have questions, comments, or concerns – we would love to hear from you.
There is no limit on Board terms and historically, a majority of Directors have continued to serve on the Board for several years. The main benefit of low Board turnover has been the preservation of a rich body of union experience that has been key to the LFA’s success as a union, something that new Directors can absorb over time and build on. One drawback is that it could appear too closed as a system and discourage new candidates from running for Board positions. Succession planning, more union training, and open and transparent election processes can help the LFA to achieve the best balance moving forward.
How often does the Board meet?
The Board meets once a week year-round, except for July and August, normally for one-and-a-half hours. The meetings are scheduled term by term, so that all Directors’ schedules can be accommodated. The LFA Executive Assistant attends and takes minutes, which are reviewed and approved at the next meeting. Until March 2020, Board meetings were held in the LFA Board room in A212. Because of restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, Board meetings have been held over Zoom.
When feasible, the Board has also held an annual day-long Board retreat, usually in late August or early September to discuss and plan priorities for the year ahead. It is scheduled and planned by mutual agreement. In lieu or in addition, the Board has sometimes elected to have a half-day retreat during the year to focus on a specific issue.
Weekly meeting topics include both ongoing and topical items:
- Generally the Board reviews the ‘current state of the College’, a broad category that covers major issues as they arise or that are significant and ongoing. For 2020 and 2021, the College’s response to Covid-19 has been an ongoing item.
- Every week the stewards present an overview of contract maintenance issues, with confidentiality fully maintained, because it’s important that Directors understand any issues or developments arising with faculty working conditions. The stewards work ongoing to ensure that faculty members’ Collective Agreement, legislative, and College policy rights are respected and exercised.
- A frequent topic is College policies that are under review or under development. The College consults with the Board on policy drafts, work that the Board takes very seriously because of the potential impact on our working conditions. We provide feedback in the spirit of partnership and collegiality to help the College develop sound policies. Our input has often contributed to significant policy improvements.
- Issues that members bring forward to the Board are discussed; they may be single items or require ongoing discussions. For 2020-21, the Board has included ‘Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the LFA’ as a weekly discussion/planning item. This was informed by developments in other unions and in the wider world such as Black Lives Matter and the TRC’s Calls to Action, but the catalyst was a thoughtful and timely request from some of our members that we examine the LFA itself, its policy, processes and operations.
- From time to time the Board meets with members of the Senior Leadership Team and College administrators, both on request from the College and by invitation from the Board, in order to foster open dialogue and good labour relations. We take a respectful, problem-solving, constructive and collegial approach to working with College administration.
- Other issues that arise include operational issues such as the LFA website, email and hosting services, communication with members, calling general members’ meetings, and liaising with College Facilities or other areas of the College.
- The Board approves the annual schedule of elections in March and April, and plans the Annual General meeting. The AGM includes the presentation of reports, audited financial statements, a board-approved draft budget for the next year, and motions from the Board or our members submitted ahead of time.
- The Board works with the LFA Executive Assistant to schedule and oversee LFA social events, such as the long-standing annual President’s Bar & Dinner, and additionally with members for single events such as the 2019 LFA summer BBQ.
Other meetings that Board members may attend:
- Optional additional policy discussion meetings: recently, the Board has scheduled optional bi-weekly meetings to review draft College policy. Board members may choose to attend when they have particular interest or expertise on the draft policy under consideration. When there is no policy to review – as is often the case - the meetings are cancelled.
- Optional meetings with Chairs: during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Board has hosted and facilitated a number of ad hoc Zoom meetings for faculty in leadership positions (Chairs, Assistant Chairs, and Coordinators) to share and discuss mutual issues of concern, feedback that helps to inform Board plans and actions.
How do Board members work as members of a team?
As a Board we have historically operated very consciously and cohesively as a team. No single Director speaks for the Board without prior consultation, discussion and agreement among the team. Board discussions are often lively, with differences of opinion, because we frequently need to discuss complex issues from many angles, experiences and perspectives. Board discussions benefit from Directors sharing our varied and diverse areas of subject expertise, listening to each other with open minds, being prepared to change our positions, and collectively applying our best critical thinking skills to a decision. We are united in our desire to serve the membership’s best interests, so we strive to keep our focus on finding solutions. We take care to think through important decisions, in order to avoid unintended adverse consequences for our members now or in the future. We use voting to record our decisions, but we take a consensus-building approach to inform those decisions. Ultimately the Board is accountable to members, so as needed the Board will seek direction directly from the membership.
What is the work of an individual Board member?
The work of a Director is to participate to the best of their ability in carrying out the work of the Board. It is understood that new Board members will face a learning curve in taking on Board roles and responsibilities, and that experienced Board members will be there to support them. At present there is no Board of Directors manual; that may be a project of interest in the future. Directors may volunteer to take the lead on an issue or project in which they have particular interest, skills or experience. Regular attendance at weekly meetings is ideal, though all Board members will occasionally need to miss one or more meetings. Directors have the responsibility to be prepared for meetings that they attend - for example, reading minutes, agendas and documents beforehand.
Is there release time for a Director?
There is no release time for serving on the Board as a Director. However, it can constitute part of NID activities for regular faculty. The LFA buys release time for the President, Vice President, Chief Steward and Stewards because carrying out their work duties would be impossible without it.
Last updated: March 18, 2021