Q: Last week’s E-Bulletin message about the FSA not collecting dues on retro pay got the wheels turning, and now I’m wondering how much we pay in union dues. Is what we pay a normal amount?
A: BCITFSA members pay 1.85 percent of their gross salary to union dues, which is tax deductible. Just down the road, our Burnaby neighbours the BC Nurses’ Union and Hospital Employees’ Union pay 2 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, some unions with much lower staff complements and therefore less ability to grieve may pay around 1 percent. In Canada, generally speaking, dues are paid by all workers in a unionized workplace. This is known as the Rand Formula, following a 1946 Supreme Court Decision. And union members do very well for those dues. In this country, the median hourly wage rate is about $7 per hour higher for union workers than non-unionized workers. Even the anti-union Fraser Institute recognizes the union advantage. Public-sector workers with a union density of about 74 percent retire 2.4 years earlier, they acknowledge, and make almost 10 percent more than their private sector counterparts, with about 14% union density.
Q: BCIT’s messaging in their Wednesday newsletter makes it sound like all employees have to apply for retroactive pay. BCIT writes in their update: “A reminder for FSA members that the deadline to apply for retroactive pay is December 15, 2023.”
A: This could be clearer, it’s true. Regular members do not need to apply for retro pay. A more complete description of who needs to apply and who doesn’t is available on our website.
Q: With exams just around the corner, many of us are beginning to think about holiday shopping. How feasible is it to buy union?
A: Information on buying union during the holiday season is easier to find in the US than Canada. The AFL-CIO posts a very thorough list for union gift giving. For treats and eats, UFCW Canada posts a list of their union-made goods.
Q: When I worked at a post-secondary in Ontario for a decade, seniority basically dictated what positions would be given and to whom. What’s seniority like in the FSA contract?
A: Great question! The short answer is that seniority is less determining for FSA members, in many but not all regards, than it is for other unionized workers. The FSA’s Senior Labour Relations Representative George Talbot wrote the best analysis I’ve seen of how it plays out here. Follow the link for George’s piece.