Wrapping up 2018 – Happy Holidays!

Holiday

It’s only half way through our annual cycle at FPSE, but we’ve already accomplished so much this year. Our combined efforts as educators, advocates, and members of the labour movement are yielding results, and I wanted to take a moment to celebrate our successes with you.

First of all, one of our top priorities has been to eliminate two pieces of anti-labour legislation that have curtailed negotiations and governance for many years. This fall marked two major victories to this end: the repeal of the Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act (Bill 28) from 2002, and rescinding changes to the College and Institutes Act from 2011, restricting faculty from sitting on their institution’s boards of governors. FPSE members have been outspoken critics of these “solutions in search of problems” and immediately made the current government aware of these issues when they came into office. Congratulations to all faculty and staff for championing the values of fairness and respect our campuses are better for unions because of our efforts!

Another goal identified at our AGM was advocating for contract academic staff (also known as part-time, sessional and non-regular faculty). Doubly disadvantaged by no job security and lower pay than their colleagues, FPSE has been championing the need to address this issue for years. Our entire Presidents’ Council was in Victoria during Fair Employment Week (October 22 26), and spoke to government and MLAs about how this issue is impacting faculty and students in communities across BC. We’re also raising this issue in the media – you can hear an interview with me and North Island College Faculty Association President Shirley Ackland here.

It will take all of us working together to address the unfairness of contract academic work. You can show your support for fair employment by joining our Precarious Profs campaign here.

Educators deserve the same respect and dignity deserved by all workers, and we look forward to a renewed labour code to balance the scales between workers and employers.

On this note, the new year will bring a new round of collective bargaining. If you are an educator in BC, I encourage you to connect with your local bargaining committee to keep participating in this process.

Before we turn our minds to 2019, here are some other highlights from this past year:

  • FPSE submitted a comprehensive response to the provincial government’s budget consultation, outlining the challenges faced in post-secondary. The Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ report reiterated many of FPSE’s recommendations, urging the government to inject more operating funds into the system, and calling for a major review of international education. FPSE also made submissions regarding the review of BC’s labour code, overseen by Labour Minister Harry Bains. You can read FPSE’s original submission, and response to the review panel’s recommendations here.
  • Educators participated at the BCFED convention, speaking passionately to the need for affordable, accessible, and sustainable post-secondary education. Laird Cronk and Sussanne Skidmore were acclaimed president and secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour. Congratulations Laird and Sussanne!
  • CAUT is setting up a new executive committee to focus on the issues at colleges and institutes: this comes from our long involvement with OPSEU and ACIFA in bringing matters of interest and concern to the wider post-secondary audience.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the successes of a number of programs the current government has implemented in the short 17 months since they have taken office:

  • Tuition waivers for former youth in care have been a resounding success with hundreds of additional students enrolling in post-secondary institutions across BC;
  • Tuition-free Adult Basic Education continues to provide learners with the option to pursue high school upgrading without a financial barrier;
  • Thousands of families are accessing quality childcare by accessing the Affordable Child Care Benefit. Estimate your benefit here;
  • The government introduced the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, laying the groundwork for a poverty reduction strategy in BC.

These efforts to make life more affordable stand in stark contrast to the callous actions of the federal government in legislating our sisters, brothers, and friends at the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to work. Postal workers have shocking rates of job-related injury as a result of the workload implications of online shopping and package delivery. Collective bargaining is a right that has been hard fought, and we must stay together in telling the government that they need to negotiate, not legislate. Show your support for the postal workers by signing this petition.

Happy holidays, and all the best for 2019!

In solidarity,

George Davison

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.