Media Release: BC Post-Secondary contract workers make gains, but pay equity gaps remain
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) & səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories (Vancouver) - Today is the first day of Fair Employment Week, an international campaign to bring attention to the working conditions of contract faculty. After a bargaining process that stretched out over a year, there are mixed results for contract faculty at BC colleges and teaching universities. Across the province, contract faculty are paid less by varying degrees. Ending this pay disparity was a top priority of the unions, but ultimately not all unions were able to make progress towards equal pay for contract faculty.
“Fair Employment Week is our opportunity to bring people together to understand and address contract faculty issues. For too long, contract faculty have been used as disposable labour that can be paid less for doing the same work,” said FPSE president Brent Calvert. “This creates an obvious cost incentive for institutions to keep educators on contract, rather than moving them into regular work. The combination of less pay, no job stability, and no health benefits was bad enough before the pandemic, but now is much worse. Contract faculty who weren’t hired for this fall semester now have no employment, no extended health coverage, and yet they still have bills to pay and kids to feed. What happens if they or their families get sick and need support?”
“At every bargaining table we attempted to connect the dots between the lesser pay and protections for contract faculty and the connection to the overrepresentation of racialized people within contract faculty ranks. In turn, this is connected to the systemic racism and bias that disadvantages racialized folks for promotion. All of this makes the gains that unions and employers were able to achieve that much more meaningful. Where contract faculty made gains, their economic health improved, and the institution became better placed to deal with COVID-19. However, there’s a growing number of items that workplaces are struggling with through the COVID-19 pandemic, so much more needs to be done.”
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators is the provincial voice of 10,000 faculty and staff at BC’s teaching universities, colleges, institutes and private sector institutions. We provide resources, legal services, and engage in advocacy on behalf of our 20 member faculty and staff associations. Learn more at fpse.ca
- Lower pay and instability for contract faculty has existed in BC for over 50 years, with unions attempting to increase security and pay through bargaining.
- In 1998, unions reached a landmark agreement that included a process for contract faculty to become regular employees (regularization).
- However, collective agreements continued to allow contract faculty to be paid less – sometimes 80% less – than their regular colleagues.
- Now, at 8 institutions, contract faculty have had their first meaningful pay increase in two decades.
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.