Fair Employment Week: Standing together and standing strong

October 26 marks the beginning of Fair Employment Week when post-secondary educators across Canada and the United States speak out on the problems facing contingent academic staff. The problems are real and continue to grow. About one third of FPSE members are non-regular faculty. Across Canada the number is closer to 40 percent. In the United States it is even worse; in many states close to 60 percent of faculty at colleges and universities are non-regular.

Although the word "contingent" may sound remote, the reality for thousands of our colleagues, in BC, across Canada and throughout the United States, is that their employment as faculty in a post-secondary institution is vulnerable. Their work is "contingent" on whether they get another semester, another section or another yearly contract of work.

In Canada the majority of non-regular faculty are women. Their vulnerable employment status adversely affects both their annual and lifetime earnings. It also means that their access to employment benefits is more limited.

But most of all, being a contingent faculty member can often have an intimidating effect on their ability to speak out. Without the protection of regular work, contingent faculty often hold back, concerned that voicing a complaint will somehow diminish the prospect of regularization.

That's where Fair Employment Week can make a real difference. It is a time for all faculty members to demonstrate their solidarity with those who have not achieved regular employment at their institution. And when we speak out together, we not only have a stronger voice, we also give a voice to those who may feel intimidated by their contingent status.

Together, speaking out as one, we can make a real difference. This week show your support. Wear a button. Talk to your colleagues. Make sure they know that they have your voice and your support.

About FPSE

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.