COCAL IV Papers and Commentary
Contingent Academic Labour Conference
Presentation by Linda Sperling, Staff Representative
College Institute Educators Association
Vancouver, BC Canada
The College Institute Educators Association is a federation of certified unions - Faculty Associations, with member locals throughout British Columbia. Through concerted bargaining efforts over the last 8 years, the organization has achieved significant gains for faculty who do not hold continuing positions in the College and Institute system. The most recent gains, in the 1998-99 bargaining round achieved automatic "regularization" for faculty who have taught on average 50% workload over two years, and for whom there is a 50% workload in the third years. These faculty will become regular faculty with all rights, benefits and compensation of regular faculty, up to the level of their appointment.
The Community College System in BC has 22 public-sector institutions
All of the CIEA locals are made up of both full-time and part-time faculty. In the late 80's and early 90's some of the locals who had only full-time faculty, went on organizing drives to include part-time faculty.
Each CIEA local has its own collective agreement. These collective agreements are quite different from each other, both in style and in level of benefits.
All of the Union Locals are called Faculty Associations with the exception of one - the Academic Workers Union. This local belongs to two unions, and says that its name was the second choice of its members. It's first choice was "The United Mind Workers" Since 1990, CIEA, has had a special province-wide standing committee on the Status of Non-Regular Faculty. This provincial committee has representation from each of the CIEA locals and has a mandate to promote equity for non-regular faculty.
In the early 90's, rights and benefit for faculty were different in each of the institutions. Even the terms used to define non-regular faculty were different, and used in different ways. The provincial committee, to describe themselves, used the term "non-regular". It seemed to define the condition of faculty, based on what they didn't have - Job security.
Each local was encouraged to establish a non-regular faculty committee at their institution. These faculty members became known as SNRF's (Status of Non-regular Faculty). Everyone needs an acronym, and this seemed to fit.
The first major task of the committee was to define who they were, find each other and exchange information. A survey was done in 1991-92 in preparation for the 1992 round of collective bargaining. The locals decided to coordinate their bargaining. They adopted common proposals. Some of those proposals related to improvements in compensation and job security for non-regular faculty.
The 1992 Bargaining Round was called the "Equity" round and addressed inequalities of job security and compensation.
Rights of first refusal and rights of accrual were addressed. The faculty associations bargained for "Regularization". This meant that after two years, if instructors were offered a third appointment, they became regular faculty.
Each local organized it's own non-regular faculty and then set about on a campaign to get the support of the full-time faculty and the student unions. The college calendars identified instructors for courses without instructors as "TBA (to be announced). Everyone wore 'No TBA' buttons, and brochures were distributed.
Every year at the CIEA annual general meetings, the Status of Non-regular Faculty Committee (SNRF's) presented a workshop on the status of non-regular faculty. The Committee also did guerilla theatre at the annual banquets, and generally made their presence known.
With the number of non-regular faculty increasing each year, people were becoming increasingly alarmed. In some institutions as many as 40% of the faculty were non-regular. Non-regular faculty were also becoming a potentially significant force in the union membership.
At first the non-regular faculty didn't believe that the union or their own union executives would support them. But after three successive rounds of bargaining, where non-regular faculty issues were priority strike issues and a couple strike-votes later, significant gains were made in collective agreements throughout the province.
Each successive round of bargaining, the Faculty Associations became more united in their efforts. In 1998, the two large unions voluntarily bargained together for their members in two-tiered bargaining. Main issues were bargained at a provincial table, and other issues were bargained at the institutional level. A Common Agreement was signed for all of the member locals. This Common Agreement made significant gains and set a provincial minimum benefit for the entire group of non-regular faculty in the member locals.
The terms and conditions of employment for non-regular faculty were improved throughout the province. Those institutions (primarily the University Colleges) who has opposed job security and equitable compensation for non-regular faculty were brought on board. A provincial minimum standard was established. There are still numbers of non-regular faculty in the public college system.. However, the numbers of non-regular faculty have gone down substantially since these initiatives began.
Each year, the members of the Status of Non-regular Faculty Provincial Committee send in their resignations because they have become regular faculty. We still have a SNRF committee, so the fight isn't over yet. We still have exploitation of non-regular faculty and we are still fighting.
This is a good time to make gains for non-regular faculty. In Canada, and probably in the US, many professors and instructors are between 55 and 65 and are retiring. It is predicted that there will soon be a shortage of instructors in all areas of post-secondary education. Shortages of nurses and doctors are world-wide, and professors and instructors are not far behind.
As well, in Canada public opinion polls and government pronouncements indicate that education and health care are the two priority areas for government spending. In such a climate, we should be optimistic about the gains that can and should be made for non-regular faculty.
These rights include:
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