Each for Equal: How our Federation is Working for Women's Equity
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.
On March 8, International Women’s Day will be marked around the world with the theme #EachforEqual. In order to truly achieve equality for women, we must achieve gender-equal workplaces and more gender equity in wealth. Across our federation, women and allies are doing their part to achieve equality and pay equity within our post-secondary sector.
Our work fighting for fairness for contract faculty is a major focus of these efforts. Contract faculty are paid considerably less than their colleagues for doing the same work, and the fact that women are overrepresented in the contract faculty ranks means women are getting paid less money for doing the same work. The fact that racialized faculty are also overrepresented within contract faculty underlines the importance of intersectional analysis of workplace and wealth issues as discrimination can be compounded for racialized women.
Our history is rich with examples where we have made huge progress on equity issues. Thanks to women and allies fighting hard at the bargaining table, we’ve achieved rights that have improved the work lives of women for years. We have achieved top-up pay while on maternity leave. One of our three College Pension Plan trustees will always be a woman. And the breakthrough “regularization” language that moves contract faculty to regular faculty we achieved over 20 years ago has moved many women from precarious underpaid work to jobs with stability and benefits.
Progress is being achieved in the public policy realm as well. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence will soon be able to take 5 days of paid leave thanks to the advocacy of women and allies, and legislation introduced just this week.
Throughout FPSE’s 50 year history, we have proven time and again what is possible when we work together; for women, and for all of us. Since the 1970s we’ve pushed our workplaces to be more fair and equitable. Going forward, we need to maintain our efforts at all levels – within our unions, within our federation, and within the political process.
We will need to ensure that as we fight for fairness to address inequities for women, we are mindful that it does not serve as a limit of our fight for fairness for all, regardless of gender identity. We will not achieve success if we limit our goals and exclude our transgender, intersex and gender non-binary coworkers from our movement. The equitable future we are fighting for is only possible with all of us working together.
We are going to continue fighting for contract faculty to be paid the same as their colleagues. Translating the principles of fairness and justice into workplace and pay practices has always been a strength of our unions and our federation. We’ve proven that we can overcome discrimination and inequity for women and racialized workers when we stand together.
Now is the time to do it again.
Terri Van Steinburg