The Non-Academic Staff Association has a diverse membership with different and sometimes competing interests. This has been true for University support staff since 1908. As this short history has hopefully demonstrated, the staff have been most effective when they have been able to unite and respond collectively through decisive action on key issues that affect the greatest majority of non-academic employees.
Similar conditions and circumstances confronted by non-academic employees in the past continue to arise today in the ongoing contest between management and labour. Traditional demands like wage rates are raised at the same time as more recent issues like sexual harassment and TQM. NASA, as an organization, is the form in which university support staff have come together to achieve their goals. However, history also suggests that the employer, the University's Board of Governors, has had a critical influence on its employees and their organization -- whether for good or for bad depends on your perspective.
Support staff at the University have been in contact with others in the labour movement ever since the thirties. As has been noted, this has often been a source of internal conflict within the University and among the staff themselves. Whether there was any doubt before, it is clear that the University isn't a small community or "family" which exists in isolation to the outside world. The "new world order" of the 1990s has confirmed how integrated the global economy and labour has become. University support staff are an integral part of the broader labour movement in Alberta. While NASA actually represents one of the largest remaining independent labour groups in this province, its members are affected by the same legislation and political decisions that other employees face. To survive, labour organizations -- like NASA -- will need to work together more closely than ever before to protect their members' wages, working conditions, and job security.
Lastly, the "Association" -- regardless of its formal name -- is a union, protecting the interests of its members and seeking a better future for all. That future is not yet written. That is why an understanding of the events and history of the support staff at the University of Alberta should be an integral part of your understanding -- as a NASA member -- when you discuss and make decisions that will become the next chapter in this history.