Faculty at King George International College win breakthrough first agreement
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.
"It's hard to overstate the importance of what these members have been able to get in their first round of collective bargaining," said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators. Oliver was referring to the news that the newly organized faculty group at King George International College (KGIC) had reached a first agreement with their employer. The contract includes a number of substantial changes with the most significant being an overhaul to the KGIC salary scale, an overhaul that lifts individual salaries by an average of 5% in the first year.
"When FPSE made the commitment to targeted organizing support of private colleges and institutes, we knew it was going to be a tough fight," noted Oliver. "The BC Liberals have changed the Labour Code in ways that make the initial organizing drive a real challenge. The procedural rules at the Labour Relations Board are another barrier, one that can lead to frustrating delays in the first agreement process. We knew all of these challenges going into the organizing drive and knew this was going to be a tough struggle," Oliver added. "Despite all those challenges, our negotiators, the bargaining committee and the employer representatives at the bargaining table worked in good faith to find a way through all of the problems. Most of all though it was the entire faculty group at KGIC who showed remarkable conviction, conviction that has led to this very important first agreement," Oliver stressed.
"KGIC is owned by CIBT Education Group, a large international company with offices in Asia and BC. CIBT also has extensive ownership interests in a number of private post-secondary institutions including Sprott Shaw College," Oliver noted. "Those corporate connections have important implications for future organizing efforts at other private colleges and institutes in BC," Oliver said. "We have been able to demonstrate with this first agreement at KGIC that a union organizing drive at a private college is an important first step for faculty who want to improve their workplace. That's an important message for the thousands of unorganized faculty who work in private colleges throughout BC: signing a union card means positive real change in your workplace," Oliver concluded.