Moving Ahead

Although the University of Alberta Non-Academic Staff Association was now a legal entity, it faced--and continues to face--many of the same issues confronted in the past. Wage rates and employment equity, job descriptions, benefits, security, and employee representation in grievances and negotiations. These are not new concerns on the campus work-site. The Association continues a pursuit of new members, seeking ways to extend its appeal and encourage more active participation in affairs of the organization. Most recently, NASA was recognized as the legal representative of Trust employees on campus. The university, for its part, has decided to fight that in the courts.

Provincial politics and economics have also been and continue to be significant factors influencing the nature and process of personnel relations on campus. Legislation has been both detrimental to and helpful for non-academic employees and the Association. Fiscal policies of restraint throughout the mid-1980s and into the 1990s have callously slashed educational and research resources and created tension and anxiety as difficult reductions are forced upon already dilapidated educational institutions.

Non-academic employees who struggle to maintain the functions of daily campus life face the Herculean challenge of keeping obsolete equipment and facilities operating beyond their capacity, with declining numbers of staff shouldering ever-greater loads. A growing number of occupations, formerly filled by unionized support staff, are now contracted out to companies who do not provide the wages or benefits that NASA members have fought long and hard to obtain.

When the Provincial Government austerity programs led to cuts in funding to education, NASA joined in solidarity with others in the university community to oppose those cuts. The present state of local and global economies suggests that now, more than ever before, the Association needs to establish closer and more extensive ties with others involved in protecting the educational system and our society's overall standard of living. These include community groups, student and faculty associations, and other labour organizations. Just one example of this is the Alberta Association of Post-Secondary Institutions (AAPSI), a coalition of post-secondary employee organizations in Alberta. NASA continues to play a major role in this group.