Each year, the BC government holds public consultations that inform the next year’s budget through the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. This year, the consultation happened in June – and for three weeks, the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators and our locals spoke out about paying contract faculty fairly.
From Courtenay to Kelowna to Surrey, the committee heard about the impact underpaying contract faculty is having on workers, students and our communities.
While the exact payment for contract faculty fluctuates across the province, the overall issue is the same: contract faculty are paid less than their colleagues for doing the same work – sometimes 80% less.
I spoke to the committee in Surrey to give a provincial overview of this issue and give our recommendation for Budget 2020. Here are the key points from our presentation:
- In BC, we have a provincial salary scale used across our system that ensures educators are paid fairly, without discrimination. Contract faculty are not paid on this scale.
- 1/3 of FPSE members are contract faculty – that’s 3000 educators in BC.
- Contract faculty need to be paid on a pro rata basis – simply put, proportionate to the provincial salary scale.
- Vancouver Community College and Langara College show that treating faculty fairly is possible. There, all faculty are paid on the provincial salary scale, regardless of the duration of their employment contract. This should be the standard for all institutions.
Our recommendation for Budget 2020 is that government fund a pro rata pay model so that contract faculty are paid on the provincial salary scale.
Our colleges, universities, and institutes are important pieces of our public infrastructure and they need the dedication and skill of faculty and staff. We need to make sure that the treatment of educators matches the excellent education that post-secondary workers provide. Ensuring that public funds go towards paying people fairly is the kind of investment that makes life better for every person in our province.
You can help – join the Fight for Fairness today! #makeitfair
Terri Van Steinburg
President Elect, FPSE
Terri Van Steinburg assumes role August 1, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2019, Kelowna BC – The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC has elected Terri Van Steinburg as the federation’s new president-elect at an Annual General Meeting, held in Kelowna on May 15.
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and private sector institutions, representing over 10,000 members at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.
Van Steinburg assumes her new position on August 1, 2019 when George A. Davison retires from the presidency, a role he held for four years. Van Steinburg has previously served as FPSE’s Secretary-Treasurer from 2015.
Sean Parkinson, of the University of the Fraser Valley Faculty and Staff Association (UFVFSA), has been elected to the role of Secretary-Treasurer. Frank Cosco (Vancouver Community College Faculty Association) and Leslie Molnar (College of the Rockies Faculty Association) were elected as first and second vice-president, respectively.
Van Steinburg pledges to continue advocating for equal pay for contract academic staff. Contract work in post-secondary education is a problem which leads to some educators earning 80 per cent less than their colleagues despite having equivalent qualifications.
“Educators provide what we need for the economy of today and tomorrow. Educators work hard every day—and they should be paid fairly. We have a provincial salary scale that sets out fair compensation across the sector – and now it must be applied equally to everyone who works in our sector,” says Van Steinburg.
“I wish George well in his future projects and thank him for the important and lasting contributions he has made to the field of post-secondary education,” adds Van Steinburg.
For 13 years, Van Steinburg served as president of the Kwantlen Faculty Association at Kwantlen Polytechnic University where she taught career development for women. She’s been active in the labour movement for three decades, having been a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Industrial Wood and Allied Workers Union (now Steelworkers) prior to joining FPSE. She is also president of the National Union of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (NUCAUT) and a labour educator, instructing courses for the Canadian Labour Congress and the BC Federation of Labour.
The position of President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators is elected every year at an Annual General Meeting of members.
Last year, 131 workers were killed on the job or died from work-related illnesses in B.C. That’s nearly three workers every week – and thousands more were injured at work. Losing a loved one due to unsafe work conditions is unacceptable. We mourn for each of the 131 workers we lost, and for the family, friends, and colleagues left behind.
April 28 is a day to remember these workers and renew our commitment to fight for healthier, safer workplaces, for employer accountability, and for full compensation for injured workers and survivors. We must challenge employers and governments every day to prevent workplace injury or death, and occupational illness.
In this spirit, FPSE has joined unions across the province in the BC Federation of Labour Workers Deserve Better campaign to call for improvements to our labour and employment laws. All workers deserve safety, dignity and respect at work – but our current laws fail to make that a reality:
- Children as young as 12 can work almost anywhere, even in heavy construction;
- Wage theft happens with no consequence for unscrupulous employers;
- Workers facing intimate, personal or relationship violence have zero protected or paid leave;
- Many vulnerable workers are exempt from employment standards laws; and
- Thousands of workers in health, janitorial, food service, technology, forestry and other sectors can lose pay and benefits – or even their job – when their employer’s contract is re-tendered.
We encourage everyone to attend a Day of Mourning ceremony in your community, fly your flags at half-mast, and observe a minute of silence at 11:00 am on April 28, 2019. This is how we honour those we have lost, and deliver the promise of safe work to those to come.
Mourn the dead. Fight for the living.
On March 19, the pre-election federal budget was released. It included measures to “improve access in post-secondary by: lowering interest rates on student loans, expansion of the graduate scholarship program, and new funding streams for Inuit and Metis learners and minimal increases for First Nations students,” as noted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) in their budget commentary.
These positive measures are welcome additions to the actions taken by the BC government in its February budget: eliminating interest on BC student loans, continuing to fund Adult Basic Education, and increasing funding for more seats in early childhood education and technology. Since then, the government has added to their actions on affordability by launching TogetherBC, BC’s first poverty reduction plan. This announcement is the exciting result of years of advocacy led by the Poverty Reduction Coalition, which we're proud to be a part of.
With 80 per cent of future jobs predicted to require some level of post-secondary training, affordable, accessible education at our colleges, institutes and universities has never been more important. But affordability for students is just part of a post-secondary future we can be proud of. We also need to pay educators fairly and end the practice of paying contract academic staff far less than their colleagues. Read more about what our federation is doing on this issue in the Georgia Straight here.
A fair, affordable, accessible, post-secondary system will only be possible through strong public funding. Despite the evidence showing that only the richest are paying higher provincial taxes, the government continues to be pressured to cut taxes, imposing more financial hardship on our public services, from post-secondary to health care. I encourage you to read and share Reality check: Only BC’s very richest paying higher tax rate to see how most workers and families are paying less tax now than two years ago.
These are the challenges that remain before us as we look ahead to how to improve working conditions for educators and workers and reduce the financial burden of education for students. Here’s how you can help:
Better conditions for workers
Show your support for improvements to the Employment Standards Act
Affordability for students
Join the BC Federation of Students’ Knock Out Interest Campaign
Dignity and Respect for Everyone
Write to Minister Simpson thanking him for the Poverty Reduction Plan
The theme for International Women’s Day this year, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change,” is exemplified by women around the world who are removing barriers for generations of women and girls to come. They inspire us with their determination to create a future where every woman and girl will experience freedom from discrimination at home, at work, and under the law – with every door in our society open to her.
For as long as barriers and discrimination have existed, women have worked to overcome them and clear the way for the next generation, and this is also true within our labour movement. From historic advances for women at work, such as maternity leave, to the changes still happening in BC, like creating affordable childcare, when we unite to build our workplace and social policies more intelligently we open up a world of change. As unions, we are also working to address the racism and discrimination that still exist for too many, especially for Indigenous women, people with disabilities, and trans people. I am so proud to be a part of a movement that seeks to lift everyone up in recognition that we are stronger together.
Post-secondary education is a crucial part of building this equal future. Education is a great equalizing force – we only need to look at the learners filling our Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning classrooms to see that when people can access education, it changes their lives. Of course, our colleges and universities wouldn’t exist without our talented educators who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Today, it is important to recognize that women – including women of colour, Indigenous women, and women with disabilities – are disproportionately impacted by contract academic staff work, underlining the need to pay contract academic staff fairly.
Women deserve the dignity and respect of equal treatment, to have themselves reflected in the social structures around us, and the opportunity to pursue their dreams. I’m so proud to be a post-secondary educator and to be part of the labour movement bringing us closer to that reality every day.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Today's provincial budget continues to make life more affordable for British Columbians. The government has eliminated student loan interest and increased funding for tuition-free Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English Language Learning (ELL). They’ve also introduced a historic First Nations revenue-sharing agreement as part of their work in advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. For too long, many British Columbians have been denied the opportunity to succeed. Budget 2019 removes barriers to opportunity and helps working people across our province.
“This budget has good news for post-secondary, and those who live, learn, and work in BC. Financial barriers to education are being reduced, and actions to improve overall affordability help everyone, including our contract academic staff,” said Terri Van Steinburg, FPSE Secretary-Treasurer.
Post-secondary and opportunities go hand in hand. Our federation was pleased to see the following measures to maintain our public infrastructure through relief, access, and investment in our post-secondary system.
Student loan interest eliminated, effective today.
Funding increased for tuition-free ABE and ELL, benefitting an estimated 19,000 students.
Post-secondary spaces opened across BC, including 2900 tech seats and 620 early childhood educator seats.
The previous provincial government prioritized maximizing private profits over maintaining public institutions for over a decade. Our sector is an excellent example: tuition keeps going up, yet wages for contract academic staff stay down. This budget addresses problems that have persisted for far too long, but it doesn’t solve everything. We need to continue to work with our colleagues in our unions to improve our working conditions, and we’ll need to continue our advocacy to address the larger, systemic problems in post-secondary. By working together to address problems and remove barriers we’ll be able to make our system affordable, accessible, sustainable, and fair.
We’re proud that our members continue to deliver a broad array of courses and specialized skills training, from high school upgrading to computer science and automotive repair. Post-secondary educators prepare learners for the jobs our economy needs, and the knowledge our democracy requires.
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street Ottawa,
ON K1A 0A2
Sent via email: email@example.com
January 30, 2019
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
On January 7, RCMP officers arrested and forcibly removed 14 Unist’ot’en and Wet’sewet’en land defenders on their traditional, unceded territory. These arrests are in violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 2014 Tsilhoqot’in and 1997 Delgamuukw / Gisday'wa Supreme Court rulings.
This unconstitutional infringement on the rights of the Wet’sewet’en and Unist’ot’en to manage their lands and resources is contrary to the spirit of reconciliation.
FPSE is committed to the implementation of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the recognition of the inherent rights stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
FPSE calls on all parties to respect the leadership of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and Unist’ot’en House, engage in meaningful dialogue regarding the Unist’ot’en territory, and abide by the decisions reached by the hereditary leadership regarding access and use of their land.
Dr. George Davison
CC: Premier John Horgan
It’s only half way through our annual cycle at FPSE, but we’ve already accomplished so much this year. Our combined efforts as educators, advocates, and members of the labour movement are yielding results, and I wanted to take a moment to celebrate our successes with you.
First of all, one of our top priorities has been to eliminate two pieces of anti-labour legislation that have curtailed negotiations and governance for many years. This fall marked two major victories to this end: the repeal of the Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act (Bill 28) from 2002, and rescinding changes to the College and Institutes Act from 2011, restricting faculty from sitting on their institution’s boards of governors. FPSE members have been outspoken critics of these “solutions in search of problems” and immediately made the current government aware of these issues when they came into office. Congratulations to all faculty and staff for championing the values of fairness and respect – our campuses are better for unions because of our efforts!
Another goal identified at our AGM was advocating for contract academic staff (also known as part-time, sessional and non-regular faculty). Doubly disadvantaged by no job security and lower pay than their colleagues, FPSE has been championing the need to address this issue for years. Our entire Presidents’ Council was in Victoria during Fair Employment Week (October 22 – 26), and spoke to government and MLAs about how this issue is impacting faculty and students in communities across BC. We’re also raising this issue in the media – you can hear an interview with me and North Island College Faculty Association President Shirley Ackland here.
It will take all of us working together to address the unfairness of contract academic work. You can show your support for fair employment by joining our Precarious Profs campaign here.
Educators deserve the same respect and dignity deserved by all workers, and we look forward to a renewed labour code to balance the scales between workers and employers.
On this note, the new year will bring a new round of collective bargaining. If you are an educator in BC, I encourage you to connect with your local bargaining committee to keep participating in this process.
Before we turn our minds to 2019, here are some other highlights from this past year:
- FPSE submitted a comprehensive response to the provincial government’s budget consultation, outlining the challenges faced in post-secondary. The Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ report reiterated many of FPSE’s recommendations, urging the government to inject more operating funds into the system, and calling for a major review of international education. FPSE also made submissions regarding the review of BC’s labour code, overseen by Labour Minister Harry Bains. You can read FPSE’s original submission, and response to the review panel’s recommendations here.
- Educators participated at the BCFED convention, speaking passionately to the need for affordable, accessible, and sustainable post-secondary education. Laird Cronk and Sussanne Skidmore were acclaimed president and secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour. Congratulations Laird and Sussanne!
- CAUT is setting up a new executive committee to focus on the issues at colleges and institutes: this comes from our long involvement with OPSEU and ACIFA in bringing matters of interest and concern to the wider post-secondary audience.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the successes of a number of programs the current government has implemented in the short 17 months since they have taken office:
- Tuition waivers for former youth in care have been a resounding success with hundreds of additional students enrolling in post-secondary institutions across BC;
- Tuition-free Adult Basic Education continues to provide learners with the option to pursue high school upgrading without a financial barrier;
- Thousands of families are accessing quality childcare by accessing the Affordable Child Care Benefit. Estimate your benefit here;
- The government introduced the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, laying the groundwork for a poverty reduction strategy in BC.
These efforts to make life more affordable stand in stark contrast to the callous actions of the federal government in legislating our sisters, brothers, and friends at the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to work. Postal workers have shocking rates of job-related injury as a result of the workload implications of online shopping and package delivery. Collective bargaining is a right that has been hard fought, and we must stay together in telling the government that they need to negotiate, not legislate. Show your support for the postal workers by signing this petition.
Happy holidays, and all the best for 2019!