New TCSA staffing plan brings changes along with concern

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The 2015/2016 staffing plan for the Trent Central Student Association makes several structural changes in the TCSA, some of which have some Board of Directors members concerned.

The plan, which was approved by the Board of Directors at the March 1 meeting, involved logistical changes to some position titles, responsibilities, hours, and salaries.

After the meeting, TCSA Women’s Issues Commissioner Betty Wondimu expressed displeasure about how quickly the motion had to be passed.

“It’s unfortunate that the board was faced with time constraints in deciding the adoption of the staffing plan. It would have been useful to have reviewed the staffing plan thoroughly as members of the board,” she said.

The creation of a staffing plan has been an annual occurrence since 2009, when Tracy Milne became the Association’s Operations Manager and Benefits Coordinator. The document helps with budgeting for the year.

“A staffing plan is a map of the office in terms of personnel that allows us to see, in one document, what the makeup of the office is, who makes up the office and what their responsibilities are,” said Milne. “It’s a true picture of the folks that are in this office on a day-to-day basis.”

“The plan was updated and a suggestion was put to the committee from the Board Resource Manager (BRM) and myself being the Operations Manager. […] It was our best estimate and suggestion on how to strengthen the association with regards to staff for the 2015/2016 year,” said Milne.

A document that indicated the suggested changes was submitted to the Finance and Operations committee who looked it over and discussed it, before making a recommendation to the Board of Directors to accept it.

A number of the changes within the plan were to the hours of the executive. Both the President and two Vice President positions had their summer hours altered. The President will now work for 30 hours a week throughout the summer, rather than 35. Similarly, the Vice Presidents will no longer be working 35 hour weeks from July to September, but will rather be working for 20 hours per week.

“The president had 35 hours in the summer, but our office is only open 30,” said Milne, “so we reduced summer hours for the president’s role from 35 to 30.”

As for the changes to the Vice Presidents’ hours, Milne said that the heavy work weeks actually fall during the beginning of the school year and not over the summer, so the hours were adjusted with that in mind.

“We’ve always had consistent conversations around there really not being a lot to do in the office in the summer—it’s the first couple weeks in September where everything explodes,” she said. “What we proposed was that we would provide lieu hours, either bookable or bankable hours for all the extra time that will certainly be spent during the first weeks of September, but drop the overall hours to 20 a week and make it consistent throughout the year.”

The President’s yearly pay was not altered significantly, shifting from $23,951.20 to $23,962.50, but notable decrease in the Vice Presidents’ hours changed their salary from $17,236.60 to $14,310.

“It ended up bringing down the yearly cost of the position, the yearly salary of the position because of the hour decrease, but the actual dollars per hour went up from $13.30 to $13.50,” said Milne.

The hours of the Board Resource Manager (BRM) were increased from 20 to 30 per week and the Communications Coordinator salary was increased to $15.50 an hour, with both positions being moved into the full-time section of the plan.

These changes to the hours and salaries caused some contention at the Board meeting, with Wondimu being one of the members who voiced her concerns.

“I guess my ideological problem with this is the fact that we’re a student union and executive positions are elected by students and represent the interest of students,” she said at the meeting. “Having full time positions leaves that room for lack of representation.”

Other changes present in the plan related to the responsibilities of various positions.

The BRM, for example, had some responsibilities that remained listed under the President. Milne’s position, as well, received an updated list of responsibilities that now denotes that the position holder is involved with transit, budgeting and management of bank accounts. This amounts only to a change on paper. “It’s not anything new, it just hadn’t been indicated before,” said Milne.

“We’re very organic, people take on responsibilities and sometimes they don’t get recognized as a responsibility until you’ve been doing them for a couple of years. So this staffing plan allows us to look at what it says we’re supposed to be doing and say: ‘Oh I also do this, this, this, and this,’ or ‘That I don’t do anymore.’”

Some new responsibilities were added, however, mainly to the BRM position that was added last year. “It was my desire to see someone who would be able to be a consistent presence in the office and through transition of executive comings and goings,” said Milne about the establishment of the position. “Without the BRM we would be lacking that continuity and resource that the new incoming executive can tap into.”

This year, the position has been renamed Association Resource Manager (ARM), to encompass the new human resource responsibilities that the position has for the entire Association and not simply the Board.

“There were many things that I wanted to ensure were happening with human resources in general in the office,” said Milne. “My goal was to increase the hours of the position officially to 30 […] and add these HR and association resources to this position.”

Another change to the ARM position is that they will now be the acting Chief Elections Officer (CEO) throughout elections, a change that was made due to difficulties with finding a student to fill the position.

“Students don’t tend to have the capacity to be working 30 hours during election season, to be available to the candidates, to be available to referenda,” said Association Resource Manager Stephanie McKay.

“As well, it’s not only the hours but the understanding of how an election is run. All of the tedious nuances of the position,” she continued. “For a student, particularly on policy, it’s very hard to have those expectations to ensure that the election is being run legitimately and we’re not running into any issues.”

Three Brand Ambassador positions were added to the staffing plan, after a trial run this year, where the Ambassadors were promoting the brand and events of the TCSA “It was kind of a trial year to see how everyone liked it, and I believe pretty unanimously it has been deemed quite a success,” said Milne.

The final major change within the staffing plan was to the position of Advertising and Sponsorship Coordinator, which for 2015/2016 will be a 10 hour per week summer position for an individual who will look for sponsorships for the coming school year.

“This one has changed historically year to year in one way or the other,” said Milne. “I think we’re still having a hard time pinpointing exactly the best number of hours, the time of year, the best set of responsibilities. This year we’re going to try 10 hours for the summer, make it a part-time job, only a summer job.”

About Zachary Cox 29 Articles
Zachary is a first year student in the Trent/Loyalist Journalism program, who has a wide range of interests from sports to politics to alpaca sweaters. He thinks Trent University and Peterborough are pretty neat and enjoys writing about the community for the Arthur. Other ventures that he is or has been involved with include the likes of the Youth Advisory Council for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games and Rotary Interact. Down the road, Zachary can see himself working somewhere in the world as a field journalist, or perhaps trying his hand at intellectual property law.