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The Case for CAUT

At its meeting on January 20, 2016, the FSA Board of Directors endorsed affiliating with the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and called for a vote by the membership at the April 20 FSA General Meeting [we have since moved to an electronic vote – information is below].  In an effort to provide FSA members with adequate information prior to the vote, we will attempt to set out a detailed assessment of the implications of this decision.

If you have questions/concerns that are not addressed below please let us know!

In the meantime, please spend some time with the material below and don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss CAUT affiliation further!

Background (Updated April 4th)

The BCIT Staff Society was created in 1964 during BCIT’s first semester of operation.  In 1974, faculty in BC won the right to unionize and the Staff Society immediately certified as a bargaining agent.  The name was changed to the Faculty and Staff Association in 1996.

In the early years following unionization, the Staff Society was active in an alliance of BC college and institute faculty associations, including discussions toward creating a formal province-wide organization. When those discussions concluded that the provincial organization would be responsible for providing labour relations services rather than focus only on co-ordination, lobbying, and policy, the Staff Society opted not to join.  Other BC faculty associations formed the College-Institute Educators’ Association in 1980, which is now known as the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE).

The Staff Society participated in the BC Solidarity movement in the 1980s and has had friendly relations with FPSE and the BC Government Employees Union (BCGEU) but has never had a formal affiliation with any other union.  In the mid-1990s, the FSA and the Emily Carr College of Art and Design Faculty Association, which was also independent at the time but has since rejoined FPSE, created the Coalition for the Advancement of Applied Education (CAAE). CAAE was an attempt to respond to the strong relationship between the NDP provincial government of the day and the FPSE and BCGEU.

CAAE did not make its members a significant force on the provincial scene.  FPSE and the BCGEU, on the other hand, won a joint trusteeship over the College Pension Plan, with those two unions participating as partners.  Even though the FSA has more members in the College Pension Plan than the BCGEU does, the FSA has no role in plan governance while FPSE and the BCGEU are both entitled to two trustees and a veto over changes to the joint trust arrangement.

FPSE and the BCGEU went on to develop a common table for bargaining, with member locals having the ability to opt in or out of the resulting common table agreement.  As the provincial government concentrated more bargaining authority in the hands of the Post-Secondary Employers’ Association (PSEA), the FPSE/BCGEU/PSEA common table effectively settled the wage increases for the sector.

In 2007, the FSA reached the final days of bargaining before being advised that the FSA and BCIT had no discretion to negotiate wage increases that varied from the common table settlement.  The common table had effectively negotiated our wages without advising us and without regard for how our membership differs significantly from other faculty associations.

During the next round of bargaining in 2010, the FSA was invited to participate at the common table as an observer.  We did so and contributed actively, however the provincial government mandated that there would be no wage increases in that round.  Rather than sign off on a two year agreement with no significant improvements, the FSA chose to keep its bargaining table active and work through other significant issues with the employer.  As result, when the next bargaining mandate was announced in 2012, the FSA was in a position to conclude bargaining and to influence the wage settlement before the common table could reconvene.  Job action by the FSA and CUPE and BCGEU support staff locals caused the government to revise its mandate for our sector.  We doubled the wage increase from 1% to 2% per year in 2013 and 2014.  The FSA also succeeded in protecting full access to drug coverage while the support staff units agreed to the more restrictive provincial formulary.

In the most recent round of bargaining, the provincial government bargaining mandate has been even more stringently enforced.  By adopting a unified mandate for the entire public sector, the provincial government has effectively set our wage increase in negotiations with the BCGEU on the public sector master agreement and not in discussions at the PSEA/FPSE/BCGEU common table.  The notable exception has been at the major universities where faculty associations have used binding arbitration to settle collective agreements with wage increases that exceed the provincial mandate. A recent bargaining bulletin from the SFU Faculty Association provided a good summation of university settlements.  Even when these settlements claim to be consistent with the provincial mandate, the trade-offs do not seem to balance against the gains. Notably, all these faculty associations negotiated adjustments to how their scales are structured, something we’ve been prevented from doing.

The FSA Board of Directors began studying the possibility of some form of affiliation with other labour organizations following our 2012 job action.  The experience of nearly losing some of our drug benefit coverage because of deals made by other unions raised the question of whether a closer connection with other unions could provide more strength and security for our members.  We began that examination by surveying the range of associations active in our sector, meeting with the heads of the BC Federation of Labour (BCFed), FPSE, and CAUT, and attempting to identify benefits and risks.  Almost three years later, the Board is recommending that the FSA affiliate with CAUT.

CAUT effectively acts as a kind of coalition of faculty associations that our organization was seeking in the late 1970s, but not a national scale.  That scale means that CAUT is also able to provide services that support our labour relations functions without taking over responsibility for them.  CAUT gives us the advantage of partnering with other unions in our sector that we have long been seeking while improving but not changing how we do our representation work.

What needs are we trying to meet by joining CAUT?

The impetus by the FSA board of directors to look at affiliation comes in part from the recognition that the issues impacting our working conditions are frequently beyond the control of BCIT.  To improve our terms and conditions of work, we increasingly have to be represented at the sectoral, provincial, and national levels.

We saw in our job action in 2012 that we can be influential on a sectoral scale.  We also saw that our independence and isolation makes exercising that influence more challenging.  We need a platform for maintaining dialogue with our colleagues in other unions in our sector and in the public sector more broadly.

Affiliation also has been examined as a means of increasing the organizational resilience of the FSA.  Successive unplanned changes in the leadership of the FSA caused the board of directors to examine how to ensure the stability of the organization.  By having a broader support system, we can mitigate the risks of being a small independent organization reliant on a few key individuals.

Why now? Can we wait until closer to the next round of bargaining? (Added April 15th)

Although we think membership in CAUT can provide a number of advantages in bargaining, many of the benefits are not directly related to bargaining.  These include providing members with better support for our on-going representation work, strengthening the work and resources of the FSA’s leadership, building resilience within the association, participating in the development of post-secondary policy and building networks.

Building capacity, networks, and resources for bargaining happens well in advance of the actual negotiations.  We are well into our planning for the 2019 round already, beginning with our government relations strategy and with our efforts to build relations with other unions.  How the public sector meets the 2019 mandate will be based on the relationships that are built in the next 18 months.

As we get closer to bargaining, FSA members may want to consider participating in the CAUT Defence Fund to provide security in case of a strike or lockout and to discourage the employer or government from pushing us into that position.  Associations must contribute to the Defence Fund for at least six months before accessing benefits from it. The FSA board of directors decided that we should have more experience as a member of CAUT before undertaking an additional financial commitment to the Defence Fund.  Joining CAUT now will give us the chance to experience membership and make an informed decision about the Defence Fund before the collective agreement expires in June, 2019.

Who is CAUT?

Founded in 1951, CAUT describes itself as “the national voice of 68,000 academic and general staff at more than 120 universities and colleges across Canada.”  Like the provincial and national professional associations in the industries that many FSA members come from, CAUT is the national professional association for post-secondary educators.

According to their web site:

“CAUT is an outspoken defender of academic freedom and works actively in the public interest to improve the quality and accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada.

“From lobbying governments to providing collective bargaining and legal support, CAUT actively advances the social and economic interests of its members.  CAUT offers courses, workshops, and conference and investigates threats to academic freedom. The national office undertakes extensive research and publishes reports, newsletters, books, and a monthly newspaper.  CAUT liaises with Canada’s media and works in national and international coalitions dedicated to the welfare of academic staff and students.

“We press for public funding and policies to ensure our institutions are accessible and to safeguard the freedom of our members to teach and conduct research unrestricted by commercial or other special interests.

“CAUT advances equity and human rights within our profession.  We fight for fair working conditions, compensation, and benefits that foster quality teaching and innovative research.  CAUT works for collegial institutional governance that is publicly accountable and gives the academic community its proper voice.”

CAUT policy statements reflect many issues that we have been engaged with here at BCIT, including:

  • Academic Administrator Appointments (how management selections are conducted)
  • Academic Freedom
  • Assignment of Student Grades
  • Appointment Procedures (selection processes)
  • Assessment of Academic Courses and Programs (program review)
  • Canadian Post-Secondary Education Initiatives Abroad
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Collegiality
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Discipline
  • Distance (including Online) Education
  • Equity
  • Fairness for Contract Academic Staff (temporary and Part-Time Studies appointments)
  • Federal/Provincial Funding
  • Freedom from Harassment
  • Governance
  • Grievances
  • International Students
  • Maternity and Parental Leaves
  • Openness and Transparency in Post-Secondary Institutions
  • Outsourcing
  • Pension Funds
  • Post-Secondary Education and Research
  • Retirement
  • Social Justice
  • Workload

CAUT is actively engaged in issues that are important to FSA members.  In almost every case, CAUT is the national authority and the leading voice for post-secondary educators on these subjects.  The FSA can not only gain from the information and thinking CAUT has assembled on these topics, we can help form influential opinions on these topics.

Who are CAUT’s members? What does being a member mean?

CAUT is a federation of faculty associations.  Every major English language post-secondary institution in Canada is represented at CAUT.  All public post-secondary faculty associations in BC are members of CAUT – either directly or through FPSE.   Faculty at the major polytechnics in Ontario are represented through their union, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Instructors at the Northern and Southern Alberta Institutes of Technology (NAIT and SAIT) are represented at CAUT through their provincial federation, the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association (ACIFA). The Saskatchewan Polytechnic Faculty Association is not a member of CAUT but, as a polytechnic faculty association without membership in a provincial federation, it was ineligible to join until a by-law change made at the CAUT council in November, 2015.

A full list of their members across the country can
be found on CAUT’s website.

What does it mean to be a “member”?

As federated members, each faculty association within CAUT retains its independence.  Affiliation with CAUT is not a merger with any other union or faculty associations.  Every CAUT affiliate has its own board of directors, controls its own finances, decides for itself whether and how it will pursue or implement CAUT policies (although consistent and fundamental disagreements about policy may result in disaffiliation), determines to what extent it will rely on CAUT services, and is free to leave CAUT with one year’s notice.

Most faculty associations in CAUT are also certified trade unions like the FSA.  FPSE and OPSEU affiliates are all unionized.  As of last year, the faculty associations at every public university in BC have unionized.  Unionization is common among faculty associations in Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia but it is currently illegal in Alberta.  Outside of Alberta, only six of CAUT’s affiliates are non-union. Unionized members of CAUT co-operate as the National Union of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (NUCAUT) to share information and strategies specifically related to bargaining.  NUCAUT provides its members with affiliation with the Canada Labour Congress, provincial federations of labour, and local labour councils.

CAUT General Council

All of these policy statements are approved by CAUT’s semi-annual council meetings where all member associations are entitled to participate and vote on these positions.  While the statements are drafted by committees, delegates at the councils freely debate the wording of each resolution.  Voting is weighted by the size of the association, with every association having at least one vote.

Other duties of the general council, in which all member associations participate, include:

  • Election of the executive
  • Appointment of the Executive Director
  • Establishing committees
  • Deciding on membership applications and terminations
  • Approving the annual budget
  • Establishing membership fees

The range of responsibilities held by the council ensures that CAUT remains a member-driven organization.

Weighted Voting

All voting at CAUT’s council, with the exception of elections, is done by weight vote based on the number of members in each association.  Associations with fewer than 200 members receive a minimum of one vote.  Elected members of the CAUT executive also receive one vote.  With 1,600 members, the FSA would be CAUT’s sixth largest member and receive a weighted vote of 8. By comparison, FPSE’s voting weight is 5.7, ACIFA’s is 1.4, SFUFA’s is 5, and UBCFA has a voting weight of 15.5.

What is CAUT’s budget?

CAUT’s budget is set by a weighted vote of all member associations at the general council each April.  According to CAUT’s budget for the current year, total revenues for the association are $8.14M of which $6.89M or 85% is derived from membership fees.  Expenses are essentially balanced against revenues in the current budget.  Capital asset amortization is expected to move the budget from a $2,000 surplus to a deficit of $138,000, roughly the amount of the FSA’s annual dues.

CAUT’s spending is heavily weighted toward providing services to members and on policy and lobbying activity. Approximately 60% of CAUT’s revenue is spent on salaries and benefits and 80% of CAUT’s salaries are paid to the professional and office staff that provide services and facilitate the work of the Association.  Other major budgeted expenses include Governance and Committees ($932,000), Offices and Overhead ($923,500), Public Policy and Communications ($638,000), Legal Services ($290,500) and Education/Conferences ($199,500).

The FSA’s initial calculation of our CAUT dues was $155,000 a year.  That figure is based on our peak membership numbers.  Averaged over a year, our membership numbers and dues will be slightly lower.  A more precise estimate is currently being calculated. Working with the figures currently available, the FSA’s contributions would make up about 2.2% of CAUT’s dues income.  CAUT’s dues are weighted so that associations are assessed higher fees for faculty with higher ranks and incomes. Because all our members fall in one of the lowest tiers of dues, our fees would be about 60% of those paid by comparably sized associations from major research universities. Despite the lower fees, our voting weight and access to services is the same as any comparably sized affiliate.

What has CAUT gained for its members?

CAUT is highly influential on a national and international scale.  That influence has direct benefits at the local level.

Academic Freedom

One of CAUT’s founding purposes was the defence of academic freedom.  CAUT has been the primary protector in Canada of “the right to teach, learn, study, and publish free of orthodoxy or threat of reprisal and discrimination.”  Several leading cases regarding academic freedom are described on the CAUT web site.  These major incidents represent the benchmarks of academic freedom that guide post-secondary institutions on a daily basis.  CAUT’s work has determined how disputes are decided on issues regarding the conduct of research, the ownership of course materials, control over decisions about how classes are conducted, the ability of faculty to speak freely to their areas of expertise, and the ability of faculty to participate in academic decision making.  CAUT’s policy statement on academic freedom and bargaining is so well recognized that BCIT agreed to language based on it without any change in wording.

For FSA members, issues relating to academic freedom have arisen in a number of ways.  Ownership of course materials is probably the most frequent example that comes up, with departments or colleagues claiming rights to materials without compensating the instructors who developed them independently.  Expression in the classroom also arises as an issue at BCIT from time to time.  Managers have pounced on Faculty when students have complained about statements made in class.  We have handled issues relating to intellectual property, requiring us to delve into a complex and specialized area of law that has significant financial consequences for members.

Another aspect of academic freedom that impacts FSA members regularly is collegial governance, including departmental decision making, FSA selections, management selections, and program head responsibilities.  Many files dealt with by the FSA office are about members who are at odds with decisions made by their colleagues.  Many university faculty members face similar issues, and CAUT is a place to seek guidance on handling those disputes.  CAUT also monitors the appointment of academic managers on a national scale.

Bargaining

Each member faculty association can decide how much participation from CAUT negotiators they want during the bargaining process.  That might range from drawing on model language, accessing data on funding or wages, providing training for bargaining teams using the CAUT bargaining manual, advising as issues arise, appearing at the bargaining table, or even more substantial involvement.

The FSA has already drawn on CAUT model language regarding academic freedom.  CAUT’s authority in this area is so well established that the language was adopted in the last round of bargaining as we proposed it. CAUT also maintains a database of collective agreement language, providing a range of examples on any particular topic.  CAUT’s new salary database is the most reliable source on academic salaries in Canada.

A great example of what CAUT can accomplish in bargaining is the Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association (TRUFA).  When the University College of the Cariboo became Thompson Rivers University in 2005, the faculty association was already unionized and had a collective agreement. CAUT was instrumental in transforming that agreement so that it was more compatible with those at other universities.  That included changes to provisions for workload to recognize research and service as faculty responsibilities along with instruction.  CAUT was also actively involved in setting expectations for the university administrators about what it takes to be a university.  Although TRU is still considered part of the colleges and institute sector, its agreement more resembles the agreements at major universities and more of their faculty are paid above the sectoral pay scale.  Because TRUFA was so successful with CAUT’s support, much more stringent limitations were put on the regional teaching universities created in 2008.

Contract Academic Staff

Almost all CAUT members struggle with an increasing dependence on contract academic staff (CAS) to deliver instructional programs.  At BCIT, this issue is particularly represented by the fact that 60% of our students are taught under contracts that offer no office hours, no professional development, no sick leave, no job security, no participation in departmental processes, and rates of pay that are only 60% of the regular instructional rate.

The dependence on precariously employed faculty is an issue across post-secondary education in Canada, the United States, and beyond.  CAUT has taken a lead in attempting to co-ordinate a sector-wide response by faculty associations, highlighting the issue as one of their key campaigns. They have sponsored Fair Employment Week across Canada, which has successfully created public awareness and raised the issues with reliance on CAS in the media.  They have held and participated in events and conferences bringing faculty and their representatives together to share information about working conditions and strategies for improvement.  CAUT maintains a standing committee on CAS to provide information and support on CAS issues.

Institutional Governance

Some of CAUT’s most high profile interventions for member associations have involved issues around institutional governance.  CAUT has made news recently in BC by calling into question the appointment of former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore as Chancellor of the University of Northern BC.  CAUT was also a defender of the rights of UBC faculty member Jennifer Bardhal when her comments on the resignation of UBC’s president were questioned by the chairman of the Board of Governors, who stepped down as a result. CAUT has supported members, like the Association of Professors at the University of Ottawa, in challenging executive pay increases.

As the national body representing post-secondary faculty, CAUT has a censure process that identifies institutions that are not abiding by basic academic standards such as academic freedom, collegial governance, and human rights.  When CAUT censures an institution, using a rigorous process of investigation and deliberation, faculty around the world are put on notice that their basic rights to teach and conduct research might not be respected.  Many faculty, particularly those most in demand, may be reluctant to take positions or event visit institutions subject to censure.  Censure by CAUT is taken very seriously by Canadian universities.

A demonstration of this power was seen in BC a few years ago when Kwantlen threatened to remove provisions regarding class size from the Kwantlen Faculty Association (KFA) collective agreement.  In 2002, the BC government enacted Bill 28, empowering public employers to unilaterally remove language relating to class size and composition from collective agreements.  This law was famously and successfully challenged by the BC Teachers’ Federation.  The law also applied to colleges and institutes but was never used in our sector.  The threat of CAUT censure and the potential to discredit our post-secondary system was a factor in that decision.  When Kwantlen advised KFA that it intended to use its powers under Bill 28, the KFA was immediately on the phone with CAUT who advised that no other BC post-secondary institution had invoked this provision and that censure proceedings would be considered if that were to happen.  When the administration was advised of this, they withdrew the proposal.  Bill 28 was already being challenged in the courts.  The threat of this negative national attention was more compelling to administrators than the risk of legal action.

Arbitration

CAUT has stepped in and taken on representing faculty in major cases that have the potential to set precedents across the sector.  In addition to cases relating to academic freedom, such as the Capilano University Fine Arts instructor whose effigy of the university’s president was destroyed by campus security, examples of arbitrations where CAUT has become involved include cases involving promotion and tenure, respectful workplace policy, and management rights.

CAUT also maintains a database of arbitration decisions relevant to academic staff, including many unreported cases.  CAUT’s staff representatives are also able to advise member associations and their counsel on matters where CAUT has special expertise.

Lobbying

CAUT is recognized as the national organization that speaks for academic staff in Canada.  CAUT presidents and executive directors are key contacts for the media on post-secondary education issues.  CAUT and its provincial affiliates actively participate in government consultations on issues relating to funding, education policy, and research.  CAUT was a lead sponsor of the Get Science R!ght campaign challenging the marginalization of research in policy and funding decisions under the previous Conservative government.

CAUT has the expertise, recognition, authority, and infrastructure to speak out on post-secondary education issues from the perspective of academic staff.  When we need our voice heard, CAUT provides a ready and effective platform for doing that.  When CAUT’s voice is heard, we want to make sure it reflects our interests.

Can CAUT help us get more at the bargaining table?

CAUT already has helped us do better at bargaining.  Academic freedom is the primary example of that.  The work we are doing on applied research classifications is another example of how CAUT’s work has helped us prepare convincing bargaining proposals.  As the profile of  FSA members’ work continues to shift to degree and advanced degree programs, we will increasingly be bargaining over issues where CAUT has established expertise.

CAUT develops materials for bargaining teams and compiles data on collective agreement provisions that we probably never could replicate.  CAUT has also intervened in some bargaining situations to lend support to faculty associations fending off aggressive moves by employers.  As a CAUT member, the FSA can expect to go into bargaining better prepared and better supported.

Being a member of CAUT also makes us a member of a network of faculty associations in BC and beyond where bargaining challenges, strategies, and successes are shared.  Our bargaining relationship with other faculty associations has been intermittent at best.  At times, that lack of relationship has been costly.  One example of that is the 2007 wage settlement, where our salaries were effective set in discussions between the PSEA and FPSE and the BCGEU.  Another example was the creation of the joint trusteeship over the College Pension Plan, which also came out of a sectoral bargaining table at which we were not represented.  As a result, FPSE and BCGEU are plan partners with a say over how the plan changes.  The FSA is not included in those discussions, even though we have more members in the plan than the BCGEU does.  Membership in CAUT would not change those things nor would it automatically ensure that they did not happen in the future.  Membership would, however, make it much easier for us to ensure we are part of those conversations and make it much harder for other unions to leave us out.

How can CAUT make a difference when bargaining mandates are fixed by the government? (Added April 15th)

We heard when CAUT Vice-President James Compton spoke to an FSA Tech Rep meeting that CAUT made a difference when a similar system of bargaining mandates was introduced by the provincial government in Ontario.  CAUT encouraged its members to view the mandates as guidelines that are not legally enforceable, and mandate-driven bargaining has not been as successful in that jurisdiction.

Other college, institute, and university faculty associations in BC are members of CAUT and the government has been pretty successful in enforcing its mandates.  As discussed elsewhere in this document, the university faculty associations have actually had the most success in overcoming the provincial bargaining mandates. CAUT is the one place where college and institute faculty associations come together with university faculty associations.  It’s the one place where we can form partnerships that might change how bargaining mandates are applied in our sector. Our unique standing within the sector in BC and within CAUT may help us make that level of co-ordination happen even though it hasn’t happened yet.

Even under mandate bargaining, the additional data, examples, training, and experiences that CAUT can make available to us can assist us to negotiate the best possible agreement.  Just as we’ve taken distinctive approaches to bargaining as an independent union, we may also find our own ways of making use of the additional resources that would be available to us as CAUT members.

What is CAUT’s value proposition?

Membership in CAUT has the potential to make us better at almost everything we do.  CAUT membership provides us access to amassed bodies of knowledge on almost every issue that is important to us.  CAUT has services and functions that support faculty association leadership, bargaining, advocacy, lobbying, and policy.  No other resource, whether that is an individual hired by the FSA, a consultancy, or participation in another organization can add value across the FSA’s key activities the way CAUT can.

CAUT’s purpose is to support the work of faculty associations.  Joining CAUT allows us to maintain our autonomy and helps secure our independence into the future.  If our capacity to meet any of our primary functions, like bargaining and representation, are compromised in the future, CAUT is able to step in with negotiating staff and representation staff without taking those functions over from us.  If we are faced with challenges beyond our capacity, CAUT gives us access to the collective capacity of the entire national sector and the specific expertise maintained by CAUT staff.

No matter what kind of trouble we might find ourselves in, CAUT would have our back and there is nobody else we can depend on for that.

CAUT extends our reach by making us part of a national conversation on issues that matter to us.  As a large and strong faculty association with a unique membership profile, we need our issues and concerns to be represented where influential policy discussions are happening.  CAUT is where academic staff from across the country have those discussions.  There is no replacement for being a part of those conversations.

What does success look like? How will we know that CAUT is worthwhile? (Added April 15th)

CAUT can make a difference to the FSA in a wide variety of ways.  What kinds of improvements are sufficient to judge our affiliation a success would be really subjective.  Some dramatic and unpredictable events might easily demonstrate CAUT’s value.  For instance, if we unexpectedly needed a new negotiator at a crucial point in bargaining or if a major academic freedom or collegial governance issue developed, the value of CAUT membership might become obvious. Some more predictable and measurable indicators of success might look like the following:

  • We take advantage of many of the tangible benefits outlined in the cost-benefit analysis
  • The FSA is able to establish on-going dialogue and collaboration with other faculty associations in BC
  • Our Bargaining Team can demonstrate specific ways that resources from CAUT made a difference to its preparation and proposal development
  • FSA members will see themselves or their colleagues contributing to national policy discussions and forming new networks with their counterparts at other institutions
  • We will be able to quickly and easily produce relevant examples of policy, advocacy, and bargaining work done elsewhere
  • We will see that CAUT has supported us when the challenges we face exceed our capacity

In many respects, it is up to the FSA to make the most out if its CAUT membership by participating in events and discussions, forming networks with our colleagues, and accessing the resources and services that are on offer.

What we have missed out on by not having been a part of CAUT?

As the saying goes, ‘history is made by those who show up.’ Undoubtedly the FSA has lost out from time to time by not taking a seat at the table.  As CAUT has been influencing post-secondary policy for decades, a voice that is solely dedicated to the interests of polytechnic staff has been missing from those discussions.  CAUT recognizes the need for our participation in their deliberations so that they reflect a complete view of the post-secondary system in Canada.  It’s up to us to come to the table and speak for ourselves.

The most striking example of what can happen when we don’t show up is the College Pension Plan trusteeship, discussed in the section on bargaining.  Other examples are on-going CAUT sponsored working groups and networks for constituencies within the post-secondary environment, like librarians and archivists, clinical instructors, indigenous educators, researchers, and equity seeking groups.  Academic staff from across the country get together to talk about their work on a regular basis.  Why aren’t FSA members part of those discussions?

The FSA has also missed out on more efficient means of doing our work.  A simple example is how almost every year an FSA staff person spends about a day calling around to other academic staff unions to find out what their dues rates are.  CAUT maintains that data on a national basis and shares it with their members. Similarly, CAUT maintains a database of national, regional, and local media contacts while we try to maintain our own list on an ad hoc basis. CAUT information caches we could be accessing include:

  • Databases of collective agreement provisions, academic staff salaries, and employee benefits
  • Publication of current bargaining settlements
  • An exhaustive and customized database of arbitration decisions in post-secondary education
  • An annual report on institutional finances
  • Customized research studies done in conjunction with Statistics Canada
  • The Almanac of Post-Secondary Education in Canada
  • Occupational health and safety fact sheets.
  • Connections with a long list of national and international associations and interest groups relating to issues relevant to post-secondary education
  • Current and extensive media list

A current example where affiliation with CAUT would give us a big advantage over our current capacity is the issue of intellectual property (IP).  How ownership of IP is determined has been an issue for FSA members a few times.  On the national scale, IP has been extensively addressed in policy and litigation.  Getting on top of those standards and jurisprudence is a massive job for us that’s hard to justify given the low frequency with which issues arise, even though they can have large consequences for individual members.  By contrast, because of the frequency with which those issues arise across the country, CAUT has professional staff who stay on top of those issues and advises member associations when they arise.  IP is just one example of how CAUT affiliation provides significant economies of scale.

By not being a member of CAUT, we have missed out on developmental opportunities for members through training.  CAUT provides a variety of workshops to assist with member involvement in the work of faculty association, including health and safety committee training, communications and media training, promoting inclusivity, and collective bargaining.  Accessing this training through CAUT provides the added value of introducing members to informed external perspectives on our issues.

Both mundane and dramatic circumstances in the life of the FSA have demonstrated the value of having a network of support provided by people working in the same circumstance.  The FSA was recently prompted to consider our association’s privacy policy.  A great starting point would be calling out to the dozens of our colleagues at other institutions who have already addressed this in their own associations.  Institutional travel policies and program review processes are other recent BCIT examples where having access to a network would greatly improve our ability to respond and act.

The FSA has also had moments of real crisis.  We have struggled to address our position within BC’s post-secondary system, we have struggled to explain to government how funding changes have unique impacts on us, and we have been hobbled at times by the sudden departures of negotiators, association presidents, and representation staff.  In 50 years, we have never had a planned transition between Executive Directors.  In these moments, those who volunteer to lead the FSA have shouldered unreasonable demands on your behalf.  These are the times when having guidance from a network like CAUT could have saved us weeks of anguished decision making and months of lost productive time.

What are the risks if we don’t join CAUT? (Updated April 4th)

The investigation into affiliation was prompted by the recognition that improvements in our working conditions are getting harder and harder to win on our own.  Our wages continue to fall compared to the industries we serve and provincial constraints on bargaining make winning any kind of improvement increasingly difficult.  In 2012, we had to go on strike just to preserve our drug coverage and to get the same wage increase that the rest of the public sector got.  In 2015, we saw that opportunities for improvements on research employment, for Part-Time Studies, and for new salary scale placement language quashed by a provincial mandate that made negotiating local issues very difficult.  Even though we accomplished more in that regard than most public sector unions, we also realized that we will need strategies to influence our entire sector and the public service more generally if we are going to make gains in the future.  If we make no changes, our bargaining settlements are increasingly likely to be decided by patterns set by other unions that don’t represent us and aren’t accountable to us.

By joining CAUT, we will have more access to and influence with major players at the sectoral and provincial levels.  We can’t expect CAUT to go and get from the government exactly what the BCIT FSA says it needs.  By joining CAUT, we can expect to stay abreast of what other faculty associations are doing, to stay in dialogue with them about challenges, strategies, and outcomes, and to be part of the discussion about how academic staff are going to influence decisions that impact all of us.  By joining CAUT, we can give ourselves an important platform for influencing sectoral decision making.

As an independent union, the stability of our organization and our strategies for advancing our members’ interests often rest on one or two individuals.  For example, we don’t have anyone who can easily step in to take over bargaining if our chief spokesperson isn’t able to do it.  We have had times when FSA board members have had to step in and take over management of the organization.  We have been very fortunate to have talented and capable people willing to make the sacrifices to do that.  The dysfunction that they had to cope with could have been much more manageable and less costly to our operations if they had the support of the informed and capable people at CAUT and its member associations.

To use an analogy, being an independent union is like walking a tight rope without a net.  There have been times over the last 50 years when we have stumbled.  That’s cost us progress towards our goals and we’ve even been lucky to get back up.  As we perform at a higher level, we have more to lose if we fall.  CAUT provides a safety net that can allow us to bounce back up much more readily if we stumble as an organization in the future.

As BCIT’s student profile shifts toward degrees and advanced degrees and our membership profile relies increasingly on advanced degrees as a qualification standard, we will encounter more bargaining and advocacy issues that are common at universities but haven’t been part of our past experience.  The selection of a Canada Research Chair is a current example.  We can do the research to prepare ourselves for that work and we can develop our own expertise in these subjects.  Doing so is costly and time consuming, particularly when dozens of Canadian faculty associations have already dealt with those issues and are prepared to give us easy access to their shared knowledge through CAUT.

 

If we choose not to join CAUT and continue to only act independently and unilaterally, we will be giving up a significant opportunity to meet some of our identified needs.  We will remain vulnerable and unsupported on an organizational level. We also will have eliminated an opportunity to gain influence on the sectoral level.

Employers talk to one another. They are bound together through a network of forums, including the PSEA. By staying on the outside of the vehicle that brings our colleagues together, we increase the risk that we might be used as an employer tool to play off the competing interests of different academic staff units. As the employer’s bargaining agendas and strategies are increasingly centralized, our independence creates more risk.

Will our dues go up if we join CAUT? (Added April 4th)

The FSA board of directors is proposing an increase in dues from the current 1.65% to 1.85% to cover the cost of joining CAUT as well as other increasing expenses.  If members choose not to join CAUT, the board is proposing a dues increase to 1.75% relating to increased salary costs and maintaining the adequacy of our reserve fund.  The net 0.1% increase attributable directly to CAUT will cost a member at the top of the faculty salary scale about $80 a year with the average increase for members being about $50 a year.

Cost/Benefit Analysis (Added April 4th)

Many of the benefits of affiliating with CAUT are hard to but a dollar value on, like the access CAUT provides to a network of faculty associations.  In part, that value will depend on our preparedness to use the available resources.  Some of these benefits can’t be recreated outside of CAUT, like their model collective agreement language and participation in the development of post-secondary education policy on a national scale. In other cases, CAUT’s expertise in post-secondary education and comprehensive coverage of Canadian faculty associations adds significant value to a service that might be available through other means.  For instance, getting bargaining training from a negotiator who has been a spokesperson for faculty associations across the country can be significantly more valuable than paying for an existing course or getting training from a lawyer or consultant who doesn’t bargain routinely in our sector.  CAUT’s expertise and immersion in our sector also allows them to provide these tailored services more efficiently than other potential providers.

The costs of the more tangible benefits can be looked at in a couple of ways. One way is to consider what we could get if we spent the same amount of money elsewhere. As is examined in the section on alternatives, adding a professional staff person to the FSA office would cost approximately the same as joining CAUT.  However, no individual can be expected to master the range of services that CAUT provides, and they certainly couldn’t provide even most of those services with the consistent level of expertise and professionalism that CAUT can provide.  Nor could we expect an individual staff person to create the networks and provide the opportunities that come with participating in CAUT.

Another way of calculating the value is to break out the costs of sourcing the same services through other means.  Comparable but less customized databases are available commercially for some of the information that CAUT assembles and makes available to members.  Training is available from external resources on a number of subject areas.  Lawyers and consultants could provide some advisory and representation work or support to FSA staff doing that work.  A breakdown of the estimated costs of accessing those benefits is provided below.

I estimate that the cost of those things that we could readily source elsewhere would be $65,000, or about half the cost of CAUT membership.  In almost every case, the resources we would be accessing would not be as specific to our context as are CAUT’s resources.  The estimate attempts to annualize large expenditures that we can anticipate arising but that don’t occur on an annual or a regularly recurring basis.  Some years we are faced with very large legal bills or consultants fees and other years not so much.  CAUT membership smooths out some major expenses from year to year and stabilizes our budget. Rather than booking large surpluses and allocating them to funds for designated purposes, we would ensure that those services were always available to us by paying regular dues to CAUT.

These estimates assume that legal fees are billed at the rate of $300/hour, a modest rate according to a 2015 report by Canadian Lawyer. ‘N/A’ indicates that the service is not readily available except from CAUT.

CAUT Benefit

 

In deciding whether joining CAUT makes financial sense means deciding whether the value that CAUT adds to these otherwise available services and the value of the otherwise unavailable services would be worth another $65,000 a year.  In the estimation of the FSA board of directors, the intangible benefits provide a significantly greater value for the reason outline throughout this document.

What are the alternatives to joining CAUT?

FPSE

In examining the possibility of affiliation, the FSA board of directors considered several options. The most significant alternative would be joining FPSE, the home of more than 20 faculty associations in the colleges and institutes sector in BC.  The FSA has developed a good working relationship with FPSE but we actually do very little constructive collaboration together.  As the name indicates, FPSE is a federation and its individual locals actively debate policy and strategy.  They consider us to be working at the local level (albeit a very big local level) rather than being a full partner at a provincial or sectoral level.

As was indicated in the ‘Background’ section of this report, FPSE is also organized as a centralized provider of services to its members.  Many FPSE locals have no staff.  They depend instead on elected members handling issues and operations and reaching out to the provincial office for professional support.  The dues structure of FPSE also reflects this organization.  All FPSE locals charge higher dues rates than the FSA and considerable amounts of those dues are transferred to the federation to pay for the centralized services. The dues collected by the Federation also pay for participation in CAUT and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

The FSA board of directors looked at affiliation with FPSE in some detail.  We determined that the cost of joining FPSE would be about $450,000 a year, without participating in FSPE’s strike fund.  By comparison, our total annual dues are about $1,300,000 and the estimated cost of CAUT membership is $120,000-$150,000.  Affiliation with FPSE would not only likely result in a significant dues increase, it would also likely result in the transfer or elimination of as many as four FSA staff positions.

FPSE is a successful and very influential force within our sectora, and the BCIT FSA has the potential to be a dominant force within FPSE.  Affiliating with FPSE would require us to change our service delivery model, reducing our reliance on and access to local professional staff.  The FSA board of directors felt that the servicing structure that we currently enjoy was significantly preferable to the FPSE option and that the cost of affiliating with FPSE was prohibitive.  That affirms the decision made in 1980 when we were the BCIT Staff Society and opted not to join the provincial federation forming at that time.

BCGEU

Although the FSA board of directors never seriously considered affiliating with the BCGEU, the third union representing instructors in our sector, we did explore whether some form of formal co-operation might be possible.  We were unable to generate a viable and mutually beneficial model for a more formal alliance with the BCGEU.

Creating a new association

Brief consideration was given to creating a new association of academic staff unions by attempting to build a coalition with other independent unions such at the Teaching Support Staff Union at SFU.  Although there were informal indications that some already affiliated locals would welcome another option in our sector, the lack of a unifying identity and the effort required to create a new organization in potential competition with our allies at FSPE, BCGEU, and CUPE seemed to far outweigh the benefits of this approach.  We took this approach in the 1990s with the CAAE and found it was not successful.

BC Federation of Labour

Direct affiliation with the BC Federation of Labour (BCFed) was also considered.  Although the board of directors considered it attractive and affordable, it does not go very far in meeting our needs.  Affiliating with another organization that also provided for participation in the BCFed was considered more appealing.  The BCFed would give us a small voice in a very large organization that addresses general policy issues around collective bargaining and public services.  It provides some opportunity for co-ordination and it also provides union education services.  These opportunities are not, however, specific to our sector.  Affiliation with CAUT would give us the opportunity to participate in the BCFed.  If members decide not to affiliate with CAUT, direct affiliation with the BCFed might be considered further.  The board of directors did not want to recommend the BCFed as the solution we are looking for when CAUT seems to be a more complete option.

Consultants

We recognized that some of our identified needs might be met by contracting with a range of service providers.  The board of directors decided to engage with a government relations firm immediately, recognizing that we need to have a strategy about how we will influence the government regardless of whether we affiliate.  Similarly, professionals could be contracted to do research and support for bargaining, we could make more extensive use of outside legal counsel on labour relations matters, and association management consultants could be engaged on an on-going basis as they are now on an occasional basis.

Some of these strategies might still be pursued.  We recognized, however, that no set of consultants could easily replicate the knowledge and authority that CAUT has specific to our sector.  Consultants are also an expensive way to access these supports, they do little to build stability within the organization, and they are time consuming to manage.

Staffing

For the cost of joining CAUT, the FSA could also hire another professional staff member.  We would be challenged to find an individual who could fill all our needs, like providing a voice to government and to other unions on the provincial scene, assisting with bargaining, advising the board of directors and the executive director on association management issues, creating a network of supporting agencies, supporting the representation staff, inserting us into national and provincial discussions on post-secondary policy issues, and compiling and analyzing a sectoral data in a variety of areas.  Even if we could add a body to the office and redistribute duties so that no single staff person carried all these responsibilities, we would still be hard pressed to make headway on external relations when CAUT already provides every other faculty association with an effective and authoritative forum for pursuing common issues. Attempting to rebuild CAUT’s databases and body of knowledge of post-secondary issues would be very costly, time consuming, and practically impossible.  If it were possible, we would be creating a tremendous reliance on one more individual, doing little to ensure the FSA’s future stability.

Part of CAUT’s value proposition is the network of knowledge and support that is so relevant to our work.  We cannot recreate that value through internal means.

If I don’t get involved with CAUT how will my work at BCIT change for the better?

The protections you enjoy now will be reinforced by a strong national voice.  Participation in departmental and academic decision making will be reinforced and protected.  You will have better access to training on subjects like occupational health and safety. You will be kept informed of developments impacting academic workplaces on a national level.  You will have a path to raise your concerns and experiences for consideration as influential decisions are made at a national level. Your FSA leadership, negotiators, and advocates will be better resourced and better able to meet the challenges you depend upon them to address.

If we join CAUT, BCIT will face more pressure to adopt workplace standards that are common at Canadian universities. An example of this that many members might encounter could be the travel policy.  Members have found that how BCIT administers the travel policy is very cumbersome and infringes on their ability to manage and control their professional development and grant funds.  The policy and procedures seem to have little regard for the travel demands of academic staff.  The resources and networks offered by CAUT would give us easy access to best practices for administering travel costs using PD and grant funds in academic settings.

How does CAUT enhance the already strong work of the FSA?

CAUT enhances the FSA’s functions in three critical ways:

  • By giving us ready access to sectoral level data, information, partnerships, perspectives, and voice
  • By improving advocacy, negotiation, and leadership functions through professional advisors, networks, training, and information
  • By ensuring our security and stability when our own resources are ever challenged by providing us access to professional staff and well established networks of experienced practitioners in post-secondary labour relations and policy.

The FSA has spent most of the last 50 years largely working in isolation.  As professionals, FSA members understand how participating in associations with their colleagues benefits an individual’s performance.  As a labour relations organization, the FSA has largely been lacking that advantage.

Over 100 Canadian faculty associations are dealing with the same issues that we are facing.  CAUT gives us access to that vast reservoir of knowledge, experience and insight.

What doesn’t change if we join CAUT?

The BCIT FSA will remain an autonomous union solely dedicated to representing the interests of technology faculty and technical staff at BCIT.  As a federated association, CAUT has no power to direct its members to do anything.  We will control the extent to which CAUT is involved in the work of the FSA and the extent to which the FSA is involved in the work of CAUT.  Joining CAUT is not a merger with another union.

CAUT does not require us to change how we do business.  Although there is a significant financial commitment, we plan to retain all FSA staff and continue to offer the same services and the same level of support that make faculty at other institutions envious. When we looked at other affiliation options, such as FPSE, the financial models were based on the local associations depending on the provincial organization to provide the staff for advocacy and bargaining. That is not the case with CAUT.

Joining CAUT does not change any terms of employment or the collective agreement.  We still have to negotiate agreements with BCIT to make those changes.  It also doesn’t make BCIT a university.  It does give us better access to the tools to negotiate our collective agreement, particularly with regards to academic employment issues.

Joining CAUT will not require us to go on strike or to support another union on strike.  The FSA can only take job action if a vote of the FSA members supports job action.  CAUT and its affiliates frequently offer their support to faculty associations taking job action but this support is voluntary and decided upon by each member association.

What exactly is CAUT’s Defence Fund and how could it help us? (Added April 4th)

The Defence Fund is a separate legal entity, similar to the BCIT Foundation created by those CAUT members who are unionized and who choose to contribute.  Members of the fund form a board of trustees who oversee its administration and are supported by CAUT staff. The purpose of the fund is to support member associations when bargaining breaks down and a strike or lockout may occur.  By pooling resources, the Defence Fund gives members more leverage when considering job action and allows faculty associations to support one another in the most decisive phases of bargaining.  Upon approval of the board of trustees, the Defence Fund kicks in after a member association has been on strike or locked out for three days. Strike pay benefits amount to $94 per member per calendar day. Grants are available for mediation and arbitration expenses relating to negotiations.  An interest free loan of up to $1 million is available for other costs relating to job action.  The CAUT Defence Fund currently holds about $21 million, more than ten times the FSA strike fund. Member associations must contribute to the Defence Fund for six months before making an application to the fund.  Because participation in the Defence Fund is optional, any contributions are in addition to regular CAUT membership fees. Dues for the Defence Fund are $5.25 per member per month after a $30 per member initiation fee.

Participation in the Defence Fund may be appropriate as part of a long term bargaining and solidarity strategy.  The FSA Board has decided not to recommend participation in the Defence Fund until we have had more experience with the CAUT.  With the collective agreement in effect for another three years, we have time to make a decision about a long term commitment to the fund when we are better able to assess our membership in CAUT.  We may also consider if there are ways to leverage our current $1.9 million strike fund to subsidize Defence Fund contributions when we are ready to make that decision.

What can we contribute to CAUT?

In addition to its extensive affiliations among university faculty associations, all or most of the college and institute faculty associations in Ontario, Alberta, and BC are represented at CAUT through their provincial federations.  As a result of a change in CAUT by-laws that was adopted unanimously by its council in November, we would be the first association from the colleges and institutes sector to affiliate directly with CAUT.  The BCIT FSA would be a unique voice within CAUT.

As CAUT considers public policy and bargaining issues, adding our unique perspective would help provide a more complete picture of post-secondary education in Canada.  We can expect the policy statements and bargaining advice coming from CAUT to be even more relevant to BCIT if the FSA participates in forming that advice.

The FSA has already proven that it can be influential when it steps onto the sector stage.  We have many attributes that, when used wisely, give our voice substantial weight even on a national scale.  These characteristics include our membership size, our professional staff and operations, our financial resources, and the reputation of our institution.  Based on numbers alone, we likely would be one of the ten biggest associations within CAUT with a voting weight comparable to faculty associations from major research universities like Western and York.

CAUT has several committees to which FSA members could make relevant contributions.  These include:

  • Academic Freedom and Tenure
  • Collective Bargaining and Economic Benefits
  • Contract Academic Staff
  • Equity
  • Librarians’ and Archivists’
  • Clinical Faculty
  • Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education Working Group

As the representative of post-secondary educators on a national scale, our participation in CAUT will make them more representative of the gamut of institutional structures.  CAUT will be more complete and stronger.  Our dues contribution is not only comparable to CAUT’s budgeted capital asset amortization; it’s also comparable to an additional staff person.  Making that financial contribution to CAUT will provide the FSA with access to a wide range of benefits, services, and opportunities that no single staff person could provide.

What are the drawbacks of joining CAUT?

We are preparing a detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of joining CAUT.

Beyond financial considerations, another consequence is that participation in CAUT will require that some time and attention of the FSA leadership and staff will be shifted to the national scene and the needs of our colleagues at other associations.  Those relationships and efforts are expected to be beneficial to the FSA overall, but there is a cost to the investment of that time. As a rough estimate, participation in CAUT may require 20-40 person-days for FSA officers and staff each year.  The FSA office compliment currently amounts to over 2,000 person-days a year meaning that participating in CAUT may take 1-2% of the staff and board’s time.

CAUT may support issues and positions that some or most FSA members do not agree with.  Like the FSA, CAUT is committed to the values of social justice and solidarity.  Some positions may be controversial or unpopular.  For instance, defending academic freedom can mean supporting the right to express opinions that might be unpopular or even offensive.  While the FSA and CAUT share values, neither the FSA nor CAUT can compel the other to adopt or support a particular position on an issue.

Issues arising from the defence of academic freedom can be divisive within an institution or even a department. A CAUT report on academic freedom in the Economics department at the University of Manitoba has met significant opposition from within that department.  A CAUT report carries significant persuasive weight.  However, even in this example, CAUT cannot impose its views on a member association and it does not have the authority to require a department or institution to make changes.  Without speaking to the merits of any specific CAUT investigation or report, we can expect that CAUT will conduct its work in a way consistent with the policies determined by its members at its general council.

Will we have the chance to review our membership after we join?

CAUT by-laws allow member associations to withdraw with 12 months’ notice. Although the FSA has not yet determined a specific mechanism for reviewing and evaluating its membership in CAUT, FSA members can decide to withdraw through a resolution at a general meeting made with sufficient notice.

Is there an affinity program?

As per the CAUT website:

“Because of its national scope and large buying power, CAUT has been able to negotiate special rates and services with several businesses and financial service corporations. These services provide added value to your CAUT membership and give you more choices when you need to make decisions about travel, insurance, mortgages, investments, and credit cards.”

Affiliation Vote (Updated April 4th)

When is the vote?

In response to discussions with members, an electronic vote will be held April 20-25 rather than at the General Meeting as normally indicated in our by-laws. The regularly scheduled General Meeting on April 20th will be dedicated to a discussion about affiliation and CAUT Executive Director David Robinson will be there to answer any outstanding questions.  Voting will open immediately after that meeting.  A decision on the FSA budget is being postponed to a Special General Meeting on Wednesday April 27 at 2:30 so members can vote on the budget knowing what is the result of the affiliation vote.  As usual, both meetings will be webcast and members can participate on-line.

How will the vote be conducted?

Members will receive voting credentials and instructions by email immediately after the General Meeting on April 20. The ballot will ask: ‘Are you in favour of the BCIT Faculty and Staff Association affiliating with the Canadian Association of University Teachers?’ Balloting will end at the close of business on Monday, April 25 and the results will be shared at the Special General Meeting on April 27.

Online Voting

The BCIT Faculty and Staff Association is conducting this vote using an electronic ballot to maximize the opportunity for all members to participate.  We contract with Simply Voting for this service.  Simply Voting is a Canadian company providing voting and election services for a range of organizations including municipalities.  FSA members should be aware before casting their votes that an electronic vote is not completely secure and private.  Simply Voting does not retain personal information about participants in a vote.  It does track who voted and records the vote. Simply Voting does not provide the FSA with information on how an individual member has voted and the FSA cannot access that information on its own. We have also instructed Simply Voting not to keep records of past votes for participants in FSA ballots.

The security of any individual’s ballot is only as secure as their email.  We have attempted to increase the integrity of the process by requiring each voter to provide an externally generated unique identifier. Like other email and web browsing activity, records may be stored and accessed by an internet service provider.  For members participating in a ballot while on campus, their service provider is BCIT.

For specific voter system questions, please contact support@simplyvoting.com. For FSA voting policy or voter eligibility questions, please contact FSA Returning Officer Frances McLafferty.

External Testimonials

Tom Friedman, President, TRU Faculty Association, CAUT Member

“From the experience of Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association, I can attest to the incredible benefit that CAUT membership has had for our members, particularly since TRU became a full status university in 2005. CAUT professional officers played a major advisory role in our negotiations for a first “university” contract, complete with tenure, backed by financial exigency and program redundancy language, and academic freedom. In my view, TRUFA alone could never have achieved this collective agreement without the support of CAUT. The then CAUT Executive Director came to Kamloops and made it clear to our administrators that if they wanted to be a ‘real’ university, they had better agree to adopt a contract that contained tenure and academic freedom protection for all members.

CAUT remains the primary federal lobbyist on post-secondary education issues, engaging with government and opposition MPs and promoting such initiatives as the Post-Secondary Education Transfer Act and pushing for increased funding for research, particularly discovery research through the Tri-Councils. I served as a member of CAUT’s Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee for six years, and saw first-hand the ways in which CAUT defended academic freedom across the country.”

Jacqueline Holler, UNBC Faculty Association, CAUT Equity Committee Co-Chair

“You’ve already heard about the bargaining assistance that CAUT offers and I think this is one of the most important things. We at UNBC relied very heavily on that bargaining support in our first ever negotiations way back in the 90’s. That was incredibly helpful to us and having a CAUT person at the table for most of that round gave us an agreement that is really unique in BC in terms of a lot of its provisions and language. There are things that UBC is still trying to negotiate that we got in that first faculty agreement and the reason we got them is because we had a CAUT person at the table.”

Member Endorsements

Ethan Hong, ITS, Tech Rep

“Joining CAUT would mean strength in numbers. It would mean that BCIT FSA would no longer work alone, in the dark, but be able to leverage the expertise and experience of a large organization and its 122 member associations. It would mean not being left behind on rights and issues that CAUT members have been able to win on that our FSA has not been. It would mean standing in solidarity with our PSE colleagues both provincially and nationally.”

Alan Stewart, Applied Research, Tech Rep

“The cost is high, but the benefits are great. Unless someone has already done a $ for $ ROI check, I’m not sure it’s possible to figure out the benefits/costs ratio until we’ve gotten in and kicked-the-tires a few times. I dunno how much you guys make at the FSA office but I see this as the equivalent as bringing in a couple (or so) more FTEs and I believe that the CAUT benefits are far and beyond what we can get just by hiring a couple more people.”

Silvia Raschke, Applied Research, FSA Vice-President

“CAUT’s work has already benefited BCIT FSA members. It is the CAUT Academic Freedom Language that we were able to incorporate in our latest Collective Agreement This put BCIT on the same level as ah other Universities, Institutions and Colleges with the same language, which is a benefit to us when dealing with Victoria, both during bargaining and at other times. CAUT’s work has already benefited BCIT FSA members. It is the CAUT Academic Freedom Language that we were able to incorporate in our latest Collective Agreement. This put BCIT on the same level as other Universities, Institutions and Colleges with the same language, which is a benefit to us when dealing with Victoria, both during bargaining and at other times. “

Kenzie Woodbridge, ITS, FSA Director

“By affiliating with CAUT we get the opportunity to add our own experience and knowledge to [the] national conversation. We would have an open connection to be able to contribute our expertise. We can send our amazing members and leadership to contribute to high-level nation-wide strategy discussions. There are many great people already doing this work, but the conversations they’re having would be fuller and better conversations with our voices in the mix.”

Karl Hildebrandt, ITS, FSA Director

I think the FSA [should] join CAUT to be a direct member with a national organization that has members in all major institutions in BC and many nationally. While BCIT is a unique institution we deal with many of the same issues that other institutions across Canada are grappling with today. To be able to have access to the resources of CAUT and it’s members will make us a much more capable association in working for our members here at BCIT.

Teresa Place, Med Lab, FSA President

“When I first became involved with the FSA as a Tech Rep, I valued the easy access to our union, I liked that we weren’t a huge organization, that our union was small, responsive and accessible. These are the unique things about our union that I still do value. As I became more involved with our union I also saw that we were working in isolation. We were spending a significant amount of time on research around bargaining, pay scales across Canada, and many other issues that impact our members. I could see how affiliating with the right organization would make our small union even more responsive and stronger. For me CAUT offers that agility and strength. “

FSA Newsletter

Fall 2020, Vol 52 Issue 1

Check out our latest newsletter including items about employee grievances, member profiles, and the FSA landscape!

Fall 2020, Vol 52, Issue 1 (PDF)

Newsletter Archive
  • FSA Statements on COVID

    The FSA is posting statements on COVID-19 on our blog.
    Read more!
  • What are your rights?

    The Collective Agreement, along with various memoranda of agreement, regulate the terms and conditions of employment of FSA members.
    Read your CA