Q: I want to ask other members about workload. Recently, my Department had a meeting with HR, who was less than kind when challenged on the wages members get. Their response was basically “well, you accepted the job knowing the wages, so what is the issue?” It’s true that we agreed to accept the wages we have, but no one expected to work excessively hard, be challenged every step of the way, and have a very poor work-life balance for that low wage (relative to other institutions). The final position HR took at the meeting was “what can faculty do to make the job better?” This, instead of “what can BCIT do to make your job better?” This very much read as “what extra work can you do (adding to your workload) to enhance your work environment?” They meant things like weekly program meetings, monthly meetings with the AD, and faculty helping out other faculty. There is no time to do this, of course, no time to mentor incoming faculty (so new faculty are just dropped in and forced to swim). We really need to address the issue of contact time to improve the working conditions, faculty health, student experience, and overall stress levels of FSA members.
A: It’s never a bad time to think about improving working conditions. Along with the reference above to contact time, please write your Member Engagement Officer with ways to alleviate overwork or areas that need to be addressed. Your answers will be collected and may be published in a future E-Bulletin.
Q: Will either the FSA or BCIT announce to members when the retroactive pay has been paid out so that we can check to see if we have received our payments? I have no idea if I have been missed and I suspect this would be true for other members.
A: While the employer is in charge of handling the distribution of retro pay through their payroll system, the FSA will update members in the weekly E-Bulletin when deposits begin.
Q: What’s the difference between a warning letter and a letter of expectation? A: The difference hinges on discipline. A warning letter, or written warning, is typically disciplinary in tone and approach. It may include what the employer perceives as an incident of poor performance or rule breaking.
A: warning letter may also be grieved. A Letter of expectation, on the other hand, is meant to be non-disciplinary, providing clarity and support. The FSA will, however, sometimes object to a warning letter if it seems to approach a disciplinary position.
Q: Does the Employment Standards Act’s (ESA) language on overtime apply to me?
A: In spite of Part 7, Article 34(u) of the ESA excluding FSA members from other ESA language covering hours of work and overtime, overtime provisions are detailed in Article 8.5 of the BCIT/FSA Collective Agreement. See also our FAQ on overtime and compensation.
Q: Am I able to use my Professional Development funds on an iPad?
A: We’ve received three or four questions about PD funds this week. As is often the case with labour relations, the answer to the question above is “it depends.” Helpfully, for all involved, the FSA and employer negotiated a memorandum of agreement in early 2022 to guide the application of Article 10.3 of the Collective Agreement, the Professional Development Expense Fund. The criteria used to adjudicate the fund are:
• Is the activity, resource or equipment relevant to or does it augment the individual’s area of professional competence or continuing development?
• Will the activity, resource or equipment provide a measurable benefit to the individual, the Department, or the Institute?
• Does the activity, resource or equipment assist the individual to maintain currency and flexibility in their area or professional competence?
• Will the expenditure for the activity, resource or equipment promote leadership in technological education? The recent practice has been to consider tablets, generally speaking, consistent with 10.3. However, we urge members to peruse the short memorandum of agreement guide hyperlinked above.
Q: I’m currently working as staff but looking into taking some courses at BCIT that will help me become a part-time instructor. Can I use the tuition waiver for this purpose?
A: That’s great! We love to see members utilizing their Collective Agreement. Article 10.10 (pp. 63-4) deals with employee registration in BCIT courses. The short answer to the question above is “probably,” so long as the conditions in that Article are met.