Kwantlen arbitration win strengthens our fight for non-regular faculty rights

It’s hard to overstate the importance that FPSE places on the fight to win better protection for non-regular faculty. Often referred to as regularization, it’s an issue that plays out in every local across the province. It’s an issue that touches virtually every faculty member—most of us started our careers as non-regular faculty. It’s also an issue that addresses a very basic part of any instructor’s working career: knowing that their job comes with some measure of security.

For all of these reasons and many more, FPSE devotes considerable labour relations staff effort to ensuring that our regularization language provides real benefits to our members. Increasingly, we know that employers are looking for new ways to circumvent the existing contract provisions. We also know that any case we advance on this issue needs to be carefully prepared to ensure that we have put forward evidence that can withstand employer and arbitrator scrutiny.

Earlier this year, FPSE took forward an arbitration at Kwantlen University College in which the employer was looking for ways to undermine the regularization provisions in their collective agreement. Well-known BC arbitrator Vince Ready heard the case and his ruling, which was released on March 19th, helps strengthen our resolve to advance regularization.

As every local faculty association knows all too well, the process of regularization is never easy. Employers object by arguing that there is a “management right” to appoint faculty and this right eclipses any provisions for regularization. Employers also challenge the concept of “on-going” work in an attempt to erode the case for regularization.

Mr.Ready’s decision, however, provides a very careful and important ruling on some of these points, a ruling that has significant benefit in our on-going fight to improve regularization prospects. Two points in particular in Ready’s ruling need to be emphasized. First, while he acknowledges that “the Employer retains its management rights and is fully able to post and fill regular faculty positions” that right is subject to other provisions in the collective agreement. Second, Ready concludes that in measuring the workload threshold that a member must achieve in the regularization process, replacement work should be included in the calculation.

That second point is significant because it increases the opportunity for non-regular faculty to meet at least one of the measures for regularization. That fact can now become the standard by which we pursue regularization cases in other locals as well.

The determination of the Kwantlen Faculty Association to advance this case and the hard work of FPSE Labour Relations Staff Representatives provided the base from which this victory was made. Both are to be congratulated as we look to improve the conditions of non-regular faculty members throughout the province. Well done everyone.

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.