A Tale of Two Motions

This update is a bit late.  All of the stuff I’m about to talk about happened at the last UTSU board meeting on Jan 24th.

Basically, for the last board meeting, I submitted two motions, which both passed:  The first motion now means that there will be a non-binding referendum before any changes are made to the structure of the UTSU board this year.  The second motion means that the UTSU board will discuss the health and dental plan in detail before voting on a fee increase to the plan at the end of the year.

Here are the original wordings of the motions I submitted, followed by some comments on them:

MOTION FOR CHANGES TO BYLAW V – BOARD OF DIRECTORS TO BE PUT TO A REFERENDUM

At our AGM this year, we passed motion #3, to investigate the board and commission structure. This report is likely to suggest various bylaw changes, including to Bylaw V, which dictates the make-up of the board.

Because any changes to bylaw V would fundamentally affect the way that our members are represented, it is important that we seek a broader approval from our members on their implementation. It is therefore important that any bylaw changes that result from the investigation be put to our membership in a referendum.

It is of additional importance that Bylaw V changes be done through a referendum because of the nature of our AGMs. In the past two years, our general meetings have been highly politicized and have not run smoothly, for various reasons. With this history in mind, I do not believe that a general meeting is an adequate way to make crucial bylaw changes in a way that will result from respectful and well-reasoned public debate. Furthermore, our proxy system for general meetings violates the one vote per person principle in practise, and recurrent issues with abuse of this accessibility policy from many different interest groups would cloud the legitimacy of a vote on such reforms.

Therefore, Be It Resolved That any changes to Bylaw V – Board of Directors that may result from the investigation of the board and committee structure must be put to a referendum for approval.

Comments:

Apparently, having a binding referendum on this was out of order, so I changed it on the spot to a non-binding referendum. (For procedural geeks, this is known as a friendly amendment).  I could have challenged the chair’s ruling, but I think we’re all sick of that now.

The outcome is still pretty much the same: if the investigation into the board and commission structure recommends changing how the board is structured (e.g. having year-reps instead of college reps, etc.), students will be able to vote on these changes through a referendum.  This motion passed on a fairly close vote.

MOTION TO HOLD AN INFORMATION AND Q&A SESSION FOR BOARD MEMBERS ON THE HEALTH AND DENTAL PLAN

The health and dental plan is the most important service that the UTSU provides. It is important that the board has adequate information to help members use the plan and to fulfil their responsibilities in setting the rates of increase for health and dental insurance.

When I’ve done outreach, I’ve gotten more questions on the health and dental plan than on anything else. These questions are usually about specific details regarding coverage or usage of the plan.

I would like the board to do more to promote the plan, help members use it, and help members opt out in the winter session this year. We cannot do any of these things effectively if we don’t understand the fundamentals of the plan.

Therefore, Be It Resolved That an information session on the UTSU health and dental plans be held for the board of directors within the first two weeks of the winter semester.

Be It Further Resolved that this session cover the following topics:
– Coverage of the health and dental plans
– How to file claims and otherwise use the plans
– Our current contractual and practical relationship with our plan provider
– The financial management strategy for the health and dental plans, including likely rate increases for next year, and strategies for risk mitigation
– Resources and information available to members and to the board

Comments

This motion has a bit of history.  Last year, the motion to increase the Health and Dental plan fee (by 10%) had no information attached to it.  Only in the meeting where the motion was considered was there a discussion of why the increase was above inflation, and how there had been a spike in the insurance rate, largely due to a substantial increase in demand for antidepressants.

Given that the Health and Dental plan is the most important service of the UTSU, and eclipses our operating budget almost tenfold, I think the board should have a deeper understanding of the management of the plan than can be gained from a quick discussion just before voting.  So, with this motion, your UTSU board will now be spending time learning about the H&D contract, how the plan is doing, how it is managed, and what kinds of rate increases might be considered before deciding how much more to charge students next year.

The other benefit to this motion is that the board will be better informed about the details of the plan, which is good, because we get asked about it often, especially if we’re doing outreach.  This way, the board can be a source of information about the plan to their constituents.

The motion passed, modified to create a general info session for students (which will be next year) and an info session for the board (which will be later this semester).

So, that’s some stuff I’ve been up to.  If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me at b.coleman@utsu.ca or tweet at me (@tallcoleman).

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