For members who missed the General Meeting last week, I wanted to give you a brief update about what has been going on recently.
Early last year, the BC government released their public sector bargaining mandate for the 183 contracts set to expire in 2019. The mandate is for 3-year (2019-2022) contracts with a 2% increase each year. This, as Metro Vancouver’s inflation rate hovers just above 3.25%. In spite of these meek pay increases; public sector unions are beginning to sign tentative agreements within mandate. As of January 7, the 12 tentative and ratified collective agreements in place cover ~197,000 unionized employees across BC.
In the summer, the BCITFSA formed our Collective Agreement Committee, focused on preparing for bargaining. We collected over 100 ideas, comments and stories in the Online Suggestion Box. We had a representative response to our bargaining survey in December and were able to identify trends building upon 2007, 2010 and 2014 surveys. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the trends are not all positive. Thank you for sharing your realities with us. On the workload side, almost half acknowledge spending more than 25% additional time on their job, beyond what they are paid. In light of that, it is no surprise that 81% do not agree BCIT adequately compensates them for their work – up from ~70% in 2010.
Recruitment at BCIT continues to be a wide-reaching issue. We are increasingly encountering pools of candidates applying for positions without the stated qualifications. Newly hired instructors walking away after their first course, indicating, “it’s too much,” or worse, quitting before their first class, stating they “didn’t know what they were in for.” Additional steps at the bottom of our scales means we cannot compete with other local post-secondary institutes. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, positions across many schools and departments go unfilled for multiple postings. This past fall a cohort of new BCIT students arrived for their class, and no instructor had been found. Currently, over 65% of BCIT job postings are “open until filled.”
BCIT enjoys the financial windfall of Part-time Studies (PTS), built on the backs of FSA members. Gone are the times when PTS courses were taught exclusively like people like me, with a regular gig at BCIT or elsewhere, moonlighting to give back, earn a little extra cash or, perhaps, gain some experience, in hopes of it developing into a regular faculty position. Many members hold a number of PTS contracts each term as their primary source of income – some more than 10! BCIT’s lack of commitment to these instructors means that many need to hold contracts at multiple schools to support their families.
Others teach in programs that, to any outsider, look like regular “day school”. They run 8:30-4:30, Monday to Friday, yet are taught on PTS contracts. No sick leave. No office space or office hours. And are paid less than 60% of what they would be as a regular faculty member. We spoke to one member who has, after 12 years of “full-time” work at BCIT, not had a contract longer than 7 weeks. I can’t imagine the stress and frustration that must load on a person.
On top of this, PTS contracts are applied inconsistently, at best. Curriculum Development and PTS Administration contracts exist within our current collective agreement, and should be used to acknowledge time spent updating course material, marking, meeting with students, submitting grades, etc. Many hours of work are done by instructors for every PTS course after their contract has lapsed.
All of these realities risk the reputation BCIT enjoys as an institution of higher learning and as a vital contributor to the economy – a reputation built on the efforts of our members.
The BCIT Faculty and Staff Association needs BCIT as much as BCIT needs the FSA. We know that. We need to work together to unearth and commit to solutions – possibly creative ones – to address systemic problems that plague not just FSA members, but the BCIT community as a whole.
If you would like to talk about bargaining, I would be happy to sit down and chat. Send me an email or give me a call (x8020).Leave a reply →