Fair Employment Week, October 27-31, 2008
Across Canada, post-secondary educators are marking this week as Fair Employment Week. Faculty and staff in every region are working to build awareness and support for our push to get better employment, salary and benefit protections for non-regular faculty members.
The problem that non-regular faculty face is not something that affects just a few. In BC, close to 35% of faculty are non-regular. In the United States the problem is far more acute. There, almost 68% of faculty are contingent academics.
When you consider that most full-time faculty members were, at some point in their post-secondary career, facing the same precarious employment situation, it's easy to understand why we need to work collectively to change the conditions that non-regular faculty members face today. We remember what it was like to be at the margins of permanent employment. Those conditions can and must change.
Too often non-regular faculty members are forced to work for more than one post-secondary institution just to pull together full-time work. Many more find themselves with the same teaching load as full-time faculty, but are placed on a salary scale that is less than the current provincial salary scale.
Non-regular faculty also lose valuable benefit entitlements. In many institutions they are not entitled to health and dental benefits unless they are working more than 50%. As well, non-regular faculty are not entitled to professional development benefits, a fact that makes it just that much harder for these faculty members to stay current in their discipline.
As part of our effort to mobilize support for non-regular faculty, FPSE is putting the issue of secondary salary scales front and centre in this week's campaign across all our locals. Our message to members and senior administrators is very direct-same work should mean same pay. At a minimum, if non-regular faculty members are taking on the same teaching load as regular full-time faculty, their salary should be tied directly to the provincial salary scale, not some fraction of that scale.
If we want our post-secondary institutions to thrive, we need to start by ensuring that everyone who works within those institutions is treated with dignity and respect. As a first step in that direction, we need to make sure that non-regular faculty have equal access to the benefits and protections afforded in our collective agreements.
How can you make a difference on this issue? Talk to your local faculty association. Talk to your colleagues and work with others to raise awareness and support for non-regular faculty members in your institution. Make the elimination of secondary salary scales a priority in your institution. Working together, at the local and provincial level, we can make a real difference in the lives of non-regular faculty.
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.