Equity on the job: The fair employment we all deserve

Where's the sense in paying two people different rates for doing the same work? There isn't any, and that's the problem. The employer practice of picking and choosing who gets what pay for what work is one of the main reasons why people form and join unions. They want fair rules for setting the salaries and benefits associated with the work they do.

Over the next seven days, post-secondary educators across Canada will mark Fair Employment Week, an initiative led by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) in Canada and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in the United States that is designed to call attention to the inequities that contingent academics face in their work within post-secondary institutions. It is an important opportunity to raise awareness within our own ranks, and to galvanize support for measures that will eliminate those inequities.

Discriminatory pay practices are just some of the ways in which contingent academics face inequities in their workplace. Despite the fact that they may teach the same course or provide the same service as a full-time faculty or staff member, our employers are always looking for ways to pay them less. Often times the differential pay is embedded in secondary scales or other arrangements that place contingent faculty on a different pay scale than regular faculty.

Strengthening contract language on the process of regularization is one of the ways in which we can eliminate inequities for contingent academic staff. That's why this approach has been a major priority for FPSE locals. While we still have a long way to go, we have recorded some important gains. For example, compared to post-secondary institutions in the United States, our BC locals have achieved a high degree of regularization with close to 80 percent of our members in regular full-time status. In the US, the average rate of regularization is closer to 30 percent.

In the current round of bargaining, we are pressing for the elimination of secondary scales. There are still a number of institutions where our non-regular faculty are paid a flat rate, barred from rising up the salary scale, or paid a percentage of the regular scale. Yet these faculty are expected to do the same work and are held to the same standards as regular faculty. That needs to change. All faculty should be paid on the same basis regardless of their contract status.

Our non-regular faculty members can count on the continued support of their colleagues in the struggle to achieve real equity and fairness at work. Working together to secure that fairness means mobilizing support across every department and within every local. Make this week count by showing your solidarity for fair employment and your support for the struggle of non-regular faculty members.

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.