Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) Standing Committees meet at least twice a year in Vancouver, normally in the fall and spring. Here are this spring's committee reports from our LFA reps.
Disability Management and Rehabilitation -Tanya Lewis
On Feb 1st and 2nd, FPSE’s Disability Management and Rehabilitation Committee met at FPSE headquarters. Representatives from 9 different colleges attended in addition to the Executive Representative (2nd Vice President, Leslie Molnar) and Staff Representative (Zoe Towle). On Friday evening, the committee passed a motion that future meeting agendas all include training, a presentation, or a workshop. Many people travel a considerable distance to attend these costly semi- annual meetings, and we want to ensure their utility. The next day, FPSE staff rep Lesley Burke-O’Flynn gave a presentation on bullying and harassment in the workplace. Saturday also saw Ann Marie Davison re-acclaimed Committee Chair.
Education Policy Committee - Stephen Phillips
At its meeting of March 8-9, EPC members reviewed a Report on international education researched by the Committee’s Chair, Christine Neigel, and informed by the findings of a survey of locals conducted last year. The survey focused on IE policies and practices at BC colleges and universities on such matters as recruitment, admission, registration, and support services. A major finding of the Report is the lack of transparency about many aspects of IE at local institutions together with limited reporting requirements laid down by the Ministry of Advanced Education. For this reason, a key recommendation is that FPSE should urge the Ministry to collect more data on IE. Likewise, the Report found there to be an urgent need for further research on the effects of IE on teaching and learning in post-secondary institutions. After approving the Report and its recommendations, the EPC submitted it to Presidents’ Council.
Having served as EPC Chair for the past year, Christine Neigel of local 7 (UFV) announced her intention to step down after the FPSE AGM in May. Her successor is Jasmine Nicholsfigueiredo (local 4), chair of the Education Council at Douglas College. At its next meeting, the EPC will work on a survey designed to capture the experience of faculty across BC as they grapple with a rapidly changing classroom, shaped in no small measure by the growing number of international students. For this purpose, and to avoid re-inventing the wheel, members expressed interest in the possibility of adapting the recent LFA survey of faculty.
Human Rights and International Solidarity Committee - Valerie Lloyd
On January 25 and 26 I attended the winter meeting of FPSE’s Human Rights and International Solidarity Committee (HRISC). Representatives from 14 other locals as well as an Executive Liaison to the President’s Council and a Non-Regular Faculty Liaison attended and gave reports.
Eight draft motions were passed, all of which will return to the next meeting for amendment and final approval. Among the issues addressed, members called on FPSE to fund the provision of up to 100 copies per local of Whose Land is it Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization. They also urged FPSE to fund the production of an audiobook version and an experiential display. In another notable motion, the HRISC requests Presidents’ Council (PC) to send a letter endorsing the recent request to Canada of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to stop construction of the Site C dam. In another motion, the Committee recommends to PC that FPSE lobby for amendments to legislation governing Special Purpose Teaching Universities that would ensure that faculty members constitute a majority on the Senate
With regard to the 2019-2020 Speakers’ Tour, the HRISC voted to adopt the theme of Modern Slavery and Exploitation. Issues to be addressed include the plight of domestic workers, prisoners’ rights, child labour, sweat shops, and human trafficking.
Non-Regular Faculty Committee - Niall Christie
On the evening of January 11th and the morning of January 12th I attended the Spring 2019 meeting of the FPSE Non-Regular Faculty Committee.
Bargaining, not surprisingly, is the major focus at the moment. Almost all locals have non-regular faculty on their bargaining committees, to ensure that their concerns are heard. FPSE is trying to ensure that NRF issues are raised at all levels, from government down to individual bargaining tables. At the same time, FPSE is trying to discuss directly with government the possibility of securing separate funding specifically to eliminate secondary scales.
With regard to NRF issues, there have already been promising conversations between Presidents’ Council and both John Horgan and Melanie Mark. Neither minister was aware of quite how badly NRF are treated, and are now seeking concrete figures and information directly from locals and FPSE. Up until now it seems that they have been only receiving information from college and university SLTs [senior leadership teams, to use the current parlance], who, of course, are happy with the current situation.
Meanwhile, FPSE is developing a presentation for NRFC members to present to their locals to make members more aware of the plight of their NRF colleagues as bargaining takes place. An early version of this was presented to the NRFC and is now being revised in the light of feedback
Pension Advisory Committee - Bryan Breguet
The Pension Advisory Committee (PAC) met on February 22nd. Ken Shaw (local 11), interim chair for the last year, was nominated and elected as the new permanent chair of the committee.
The trustees’ report showed the College Pension Plan (CPP) continues to be adequately funded, with returns beating the benchmarks. With that said, the return on public equities for 2018 was only 1.3% due to the decreasing stock market in the second half of the year. This is much lower than in recent years but still better than most other funds, some of which actually experienced a negative rate of return.
The inflation adjustment of 2.07% was the maximum allowed by the cap, which means that for only the second time the plan wasn’t able to fully index to inflation (2.3%). Discussions may take place on the possibility of raising this cap in the future.
Also of note, it appears that the SFU faculty association has voted in favour of joining the CPP. The process is moving forward internally at SFU after which calculations will be made to ensure the SFU faculty association is paying the right price in view of the added liabilities they’d bring. If it all works out, that would increase the membership of the plan by over a 1000 people (there are currently over 13,000 active members).
Among the other subjects discussed were the results of a survey on how many members were re-employed after retiring. It was agreed that we should update the numbers before opening a debate on this question.
Status of Women - Melissa Roberts
The committee met on February 8th and 9th. Much of the two days was spent discussing previous Presidents’ Council motions and working on motions that were referred back to SWC from Council. One of the key discussions was around the motion for FPSE to support the initiative for $10 a day/affordable childcare in BC. We had Sharon Gregson from BC Childcare Advocates discuss the key points and 10-year plan for implementation. We also discussed potential FPSE AGM motions from SWC.
In addition, we brainstormed about what the role of local SWC committees should be and what the role of the FPSE-SWC committee should be. Specifically, I asked the question about what we, as a FPSE committee, should be doing, the motions that we should be putting forward, and the issues we choose to support. I suggested that this should always come back to women in the workplace, specifically in post-secondary education. This will continue to be an ongoing discussion.
The committee will re-convene at the FPSE AGM and again in October 2019 for our fall meetings.
Workplace Health Safety and Environment Committee - Valerie Lloyd
On March 15 – 16, 2019 I attended the spring meeting of the Workplace Health, Safety, and Environment Committee (WHSEC). Representatives from 13 other locals attended and gave reports from their institutions. Representatives from 7 other institutions who were not able to attend submitted written reports.
At its meeting last fall, the WHSEC struck a subcommittee to report on the nature and purpose of its formal responsibility for environment. In the course of discussing the subcommittee’s report, members concluded that the WHSEC lacks the resources to address the environment in addition to occupational health and safety. However, it was agreed that the environment and sustainability are intimately linked to the labour movement and that they are local and global issues of increasing importance. It was further agreed that post-secondary educators have the capacity to be leaders in this area. A motion was therefore approved recommending that FPSE strike a new standing committee with a focus on environment and sustainability.
In other news, Rob Pineau from Crisis Centre Vancouver presented a safeTALK workshop on becoming better able to identify when suicidal tendencies might be present. He trained attendees on how to connect people thinking about suicide to suicide intervention caregivers who can provide further assistance.
The Committee discussed the importance of augmenting the number of worker-side submissions to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) in public consultations now under way on regulatory change. It was agreed that when FPSE makes a submission to the WCB, it will be sent to WHSEC reps and local Presidents to encourage FPSE locals to make their own submissions as well.
Other topics addressed include the challenge of continuing to shift culture toward integrating non-physical issues into day-to-day Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) processes. Many workers do not know how to report these kinds of incidents, especially as they don’t fit the template of reporting forms designed for physical incidents. Often there is a disconnect between JOHSC and the administration / risk assessment team. Discussion followed on the prevalence of naloxone training at several locals. The Committee encourages naloxone training to be provided at all locals that do not currently have it.