Revitalizing our story – MRFA Vision, Mission, and Values Update

~ By AnneMarie Dorland

A powerful statement of vision, mission and values is crucial to any organization trying to create change in the world. A vision statement helps a community crystalize their meaning and purpose in the form of a vision for the future that they are working to make possible. A mission statement serves as a concrete plan for how they will build that futu​​re together. And clear values are at the core of that plan, defining the values that guide each choice and the philosophical ideas that help a community set powerful priorities. These three elements weave together to form the story we tell about a community, and a story can be a very powerful thing.

Our MRFA story has served as the foundation for incredible work over the past decade, and our guiding principles of “progressive educators pursuing excellence” have helped shape and guide the work of hundreds of members on campus and beyond. Our current mission is:

“To provide a collective voice for faculty, promote tenure and academic freedom, advocate for the highest standards of professionalism in higher education and uphold the values of diversity, equity and human rights.”

This mission is a powerful call to action, and it sets meaningful challenges to all of us as faculty here at MRU. But it’s a story that represents where we’ve been, and after 10 years it is worth questioning whether it’s a story that fully illustrates where the MRFA is going. This fall, we’re working to revitalize the way we tell the story of the MRFA to ensure that we’re representing the future of our association and the vision of our members. We’ll be visiting departments across campus to hear your thoughts and to gather your insights, and we’ll be working with the executive committee to bring our new engagement model to life in an updated vision, mission and values format.

What is this new engagement model, and what is different about the future of the MRFA? This table can help to sort out the key priorities and areas of focus that the engagement model helps us bring to life.

Engagement ModelService Model
Attitude toward employerDefending members is most important.Good relationship with management is most important
Attitude towards membersInclusive. Tries to reflect the workforce in composition of union leadership.Exclusive. Little turnover in leadership. Suspicious of newcomers.
Grievance handlingTries to involve all members in the department.Tries to settle without involvement of members.
Settling grievancesMake immediate supervisor settle by showing solidarity of workers.Settle at highest level with company or through arbitration.
Selection of stewardsElection by co-workers.Appointment by union leadership.
BargainingLarge bargaining committee, constant flow of information to members.Small committees, negotiations often kept secret until a settlement is reached.
Strategy and TacticsEncourage initiative and creativity of membersReluctant to involve members in bringing pressure on employers
Organizing the unorganizedUnion represents all workers – organized and unorganized. In a constant state of organizing.Unwilling and unable to organize. feels threatened by newly organized.
Members view of the unionTake personal responsibility for successes or failures of the union.An insurance policy or a “third party” to call on when they have a problem.

Revitalizing our MRFA story isn’t about change, it is about honouring our commitment to the values that make the MRFA so important to each of us and bringing clarity to how we share them with our community. Let us know about the story you think we should tell by filling out the MRFA Story Revitalization Feedback Form online, or by sharing your thoughts with us at your next department meeting.