President's Comment: Fair Employment Week

Photo of OPSEU Solidarity Rally

Today marks the start of Fair Employment Week which runs from October 23-27. 

This year is the 10th anniversary of Fair Employment Week, a week of action to raise the profile of precarious employment in our post-secondary institutions. 

Despite our best efforts, the number of precariously employed academics has grown tremendously over the last ten years. Currently in BC precarious instructors form over half the staff of some of our institutions. These instructors work hard to deliver world class education. However, they are faced with low pay, constant financial stress, and no job security. This is a disservice to those instructors, to the students, and to the community.

As I write this, instructors in Ontario are on the picket lines, standing up for quality education and fair employment. I am proud to support them as they fight for the fairness we are seeking here in BC, and across Canada. I know that all of FPSE stands in solidarity with our Ontario colleagues.

Fair employment is a cornerstone of the labour movement. People deserve equal pay for equal work, and to share in the benefits of the organization in which they work. This is not only the right thing to do, but the financially responsible thing to do. 

On a larger scale, the trend toward short-term contract work will diminish the quality of education institutions are able to offer students. The constant hiring of large numbers of sessionals deprives students of the ability to plan classes with specific instructors and to more fully engage in the learning process with those instructors. Because sessionals are hired only to teach, the institutions are also deprived of a large pool of experience and talent which could, and should, be engaged in developing and improving curriculum to keep apace of our fast-changing world. 

In BC, we continue the fight against precarity. FPSE members stand together in the fight to get better pay and working conditions for our precariously employed colleagues. By staying strong and united, we have made gains at the bargaining table to provide access to regular long-term work for contract faculty. But there is much more to do. 

We are continuing our Precarious Profs campaign, and raising this issue with the BC government. You can help by taking part in the following ways:

  1. Sign our Precarious Profs petition to show your support for fair employment. http://www.precariousprofsbc.ca/take_action 
  2. Share the stories of precariously employed faculty through Facebook and Twitter
  3. If you are a full or part-time instructor in the Lower Mainland, attend the Fair Employment Week pub night on October 26.
  4. If you have had a teaching contract at a polytechnic, college or a university in Canada in 2016/17, take the Canadian Association of University Teachers Contract Academic Staff survey.
  5. Participate in the Fair Employment Week activities at your college, institute, or university.

Thanks for your support. 

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.