Member Portal

    • 05 FEB 24
    • 0

    Questions of the Week – January 2024


    Q: I’ve been a faculty member with BCIT and an FSA union member for just over 20 years, however I haven’t seen this milestone reflected in additional vacation days. Who do I talk to about that?
    A: This is an important aspect of the Collective Agreement that we don’t necessarily get asked about each day. Articles provide faculty, assistant instructors, and technical staff four extra days of vacation annually, upon reaching 20 years of service with the Institute. If you believe you’re not receiving your properly allotted amount of vacation days, please contact an HR representative. If that fails to fix matters, please contact us.



    Q: I received an email from BCIT HR, and I’m wondering if you can help me navigate this situation. I don’t have any context for what HR is asking, other than that it is supposedly about a colleague who may have behaved inappropriately. I am hesitant to meet with HR without a union representative, to be honest.
    A: Generally speaking, it is not the FSA’s practice to have representatives attend HR meetings with witnesses related to an article 19 investigation—as long as you yourself are not the subject of discipline or investigation. See pages 8-9 of the Fall 2023 Voice for more. We can, nevertheless, provide
    some advice. We encourage you to go to the meeting with the following in mind:

    • In advance of the meeting date, ask the HR manager to send the questions they will ask you (keeping in mind you must abide by confidentiality protocols with anything related to the investigation).
    • If they reply that they won’t send you the questions, ask them to send you at least enough information for you to understand the reason or incident for which you are being called as a witness, so that you can meaningfully respond.
    • During the meeting take good notes and don’t hesitate to ask for a pause in talking so that you can make those notes.
    • Answer questions honestly but don’t speculate. Respond if you have relevant knowledge or information, but if you don’t know the answer it’s ok to say you don’t know.
    • If during the conversation the manager accuses you of wrongdoing or the conversation turns toward you being investigated or disciplined based on your answers to the questions, then tell them you need to stop the meeting and reschedule for a time when you can have your union representative present. Then contact the FSA right away. A rep will reply to you as soon as they are able.


    Q: We’ve hired four new members in our Department during the past month. Do I need to send the FSA their names so that they can enroll in the union?
    A: No, actually. The FSA is the exclusive bargaining agent for BCIT employees with jobs that come under our umbrella (rather than, say, BCGEU Faculty or Support Staff employed by BCIT). Members are automatically enrolled when joining BCIT in an FSA position. In Canada, generally speaking, dues are automatically paid by all unionized workers and those workers are automatically enrolled in their union. This is known as the Rand Formula, following a 1946 Supreme Court Decision. 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 and make almost 10 percent more than their private sector counterparts, with about 14 percent union density.



    Q: Last week was a bit of a mess with the snow. What are our FSA members’ rights when it comes to inclement weather and working remotely?
    A: Extreme weather events can affect different categories of members in various ways. If BCIT closes due to an extreme weather event, they are signaling to students that it is not safe to travel to the campus. That too, then, applies to its staff. If you were scheduled to be at work that day (for example you are in ITS and do not work from home), then you should not be required to attend to work. The FSA’s view is that this closure does not affect your right to collect your usual salary.

    For those of you that are instructional staff, such as instructors or AIs, the employer may request that you move your teaching online if it was face to face. This is normally a request, and can be denied by you if phrased in that way. However, if you do not teach online on the day BCIT closes, you may need to find ways to make up the missed work in another way later with your students. Discussions with your program head, colleagues may assist in planning for make up time.

    If your manager however appears to be ordering you to teach online, when you normally would be teaching face to face, you should obtain clarity. Write back and ask, is this an order? My union has instructed me to ask whether I face discipline if I refuse. If the answer is yes, then you must work (if possible and you have the necessary equipment and internet connection, etc.) online. The principle in labour relations is, work now and grieve later. This means an order must usually be obeyed and grieved if disagreed with. Exceptions exist for such things as orders that could damage your health.

    For those of you that are not instructors, but work both on campus and at home, we have not assessed a position on whether the employer has a right to order you to work online if, on the day of the closure, you were going to be on campus. There may not be a general rule that applies to everyone. You may have the office space and internet set up, and it may be reasonable to work from home. But some of you may have unplanned issues with childcare, eldercare, or health issues, for example, on such a day. Each of you may be in an individual situation that may require assessment by the FSA. As in the situation above, if you are clearly ordered to do so you should work from home if possible, but contact the FSA for further guidance. We may grieve on your behalf. Please let the FSA know if you or your Department were ordered to work from home on Wednesday and/or Thursday of last week.


    Q: Some BCIT program heads have been sending out emails asking instructors to try to accommodate students during the transit strike as it may be difficult for students to get to campus. I am wondering if this is considered anti-union. Are we undermining the striking transit workers by making student accommodations?
    A: We really appreciate your consideration of solidarity with striking CUPE 4500 members. With many public sector strikes, inconvenience is part of a process that ends in improved public services and working conditions. It would not generally be considered scabbing to make accommodations for students. I don’t believe CUPE 4500 has asked the public not to do such things (as is the case when, say, a union calls for a boycott during job action). With that said, there are things you can do to help expedite the process. Let Coast Mountain Bus Company, its Board, and VP of Customer Communications know that you want a fair deal for workers. If the strike persists, you can also join a CUPE 4500 picket line. You can follow CUPE Communications for more.

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