Discussion Paper for start-up of National AME Association in 2013/14
May 4, 2013
By Peter Jenkins, past president, WAMEA to the Board.
These papers represent my considered views and advice on the future and relevance of AME associations in Canada. They represent the insight I have gained from six years on the board of WAMEA, two as president. And they are unsolicited, but I believe I would be remiss by failing to pass them forward.
The existing structure of regional associations with CFAMEA is not serving AME’s to the extent that they will belong as paying members. Our regional associations are in decline. Look at the membership numbers.
In the last five years (to 2012), the total number of AMEs dropped by 16%, to about 15,000. Total AME association members dropped 20%, to 861. All up, the AME associations represent only 5.7% of the total AME population. And Quebec is completely out of it, their association folded up years ago.
A new national AME association is needed, now more than ever before, to have an effective voice at the legislative level in Ottawa. Transport Canada doesn't make the laws, the Government of Canada does, and that is where the national AME association has to exert its influence. I challenge that no rag-tag group of amateur volunteers will ever succeed in this without committing to fund competent leadership and administration.
The biggest thing we can do is set up a national association, with a hired leader, who fully understands and believes in and is passionate about this. There are already many senior persons in the AME community who support this national association initiative.
So, what will it take to get on with it? I'd say first get 1,000 AMEs to commit $150 each, get it in the bank, to fund the start-up.
At the Symposium in Calgary, the round-table discussion resulted in a decision to have Dave Dueck write a document that TCCA will distribute to all AME’s on file at TC. I see this document as the vehicle to announce the intention to form a new national association, and to solicit donations, could be in the form of memberships, to seed the plan. The results of the document will have to be taken as a serious indication of desire or need for such an association. I have not spoken with Dave since the symposium. But this should be done this summer, with results back in time for CFAMEA in October.
In parallel with all the existing associations, a plan should be prepared and agreed to that is a comprehensive blueprint for the final steady state of a national AME association. So with that in mind, the plan would describe a new organization, not a morphed version of CFAMEA.
The writing of the plan is something that would be the first task of a hired executive. With a commitment of funds from existing associations and a to-be-solicited AME community start up payment (that's the 1,000 AMEs each putting up $150 to get the ball rolling), an executive could be recruited for a one year term to start it up. A dedicated person can do a tremendous amount of work toward this, especially if his or her future employment is contingent on success.
What would that plan lead to, what would the new association look like?
A new non-profit corporation, federally incorporated, head office in Ottawa.
All AME’s (who are willing to associate) would belong to it. The regional associations would dissolve and divest into community chapters based on demographics. This would address the difficulty presented by large regions where doing things requires meetings of people scattered over great distances. A Calgary chapter addressing AME issues, one in Edmonton likewise, Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Lethbridge, each able to meet face-to-face - you see my idea. This also would allow some sort of realignment with the changing boundaries of TC's regions. (Both WAMEA and CAMEA are within PNR).
The national association would:
• Have a competent and self-motivated employed person at the helm. That person with administrative help would develop and provide kits for guidance to community chapters for the things they may do. The national office will provide support for the community chapters for actions that are in line with a mission and vision that would be developed. Such support would be financial and administrative.
• Be the sole collector of membership dues, and would be the custodian of the membership records.
AME association community chapters would be actively established by the national association. The idea here is to keep the administrative workload on volunteers manageable and small. No separate regional legal corporations would be needed. A simple structure for conduct of chapter meetings, with simplified governance. Centralized banking and accounting through the national association for projects and operations –each chapter can have an allocation from the national membership fees collected to run their activities. With the internet, electronic funds transfers and an efficient expense claim process can eliminate the need for all these bank accounts that associations have.
• Establish the internet web presence on a national level, with each and every community chapter having its own area and content.
• Build and operate a solid communication protocol using email and internet (social media) to regularly reach out to and receive input from AMEs everywhere.
• Group together communities into regional collectives for the purpose of general meetings and symposia.
• Host a national and regional annual conferences, using manpower from the community chapters.
My vision is strongly influenced by what I see to be a failure of large geographical areas to come together with common purpose or success, and I think it is largely because AME’s are widely distributed, with only a few areas of concentration like Calgary and Toronto. It is only recently that WAMEA's board has had more members outside of Calgary than in it, and the inability of it to meet regularly face-to-face is an impediment. This is leading me to think that smaller, local community groups are more likely to get together on shared concerns and take some actions be they social or professional in nature.
I think it would be more efficient and effective if a national association had one set of administrative and legal standards and policies that governed the whole country. As it presently stands, the path from any regional AME association member to the voice in Ottawa is untraveled and overgrown. Communication to members from CFAMEA is a trickle-down through the regional Presidents, who may or may not pass along important information.
I know there will be fierce opposition from regions who fear that their revenue and cash will be taken from them. This can be worked out, I believe.
I had posted an issue paper titled the “Role of Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Associations” on the previous Wild Apricot website back in January 2012, but the new website does not have it. (The new WAMEA website is not being used as a communications tool, and I think this is just another indication of the inability of us as volunteers to put the time into it. The website is useless to the members without thoughtful content regularly updated. People won't make the effort to log in if each time they see nothing new. A national association website managed by staff should do better.)
(Editorial note: the full paper is now posted on the new website)
Appended here, then, is that issue paper.
At the rate we are burning our reserves, we have limited time before we cannot invest in a national association. Cutting the management company back, or out, but be prepared to carry out the work as volunteers. My experience is that most of our energy goes into administrative work - memberships, accounting, symposium planning and execution - and precious little is left for anything else. A national association would relieve the regions of much of this, and add capability for better communication, using the web.
I believe this can be done. But nothing is ever gained without enthusiasm and hard work.
The question I have is, are AME’s up to it?
My time is now limited for this; I have a business that I am passionate about but needs my time and energy. So I am offering this suggestion with as much force as I can to WAMEA and to the AME community, with the hope that those interested in the future of the AME will find some inspiration and utility to lead and move ahead on the national association agenda. I don't know what the next step is, but we have the opportunity to set the agenda for CFAMEA in this direction.
I remain available for discussion and to contribute toward this goal.