Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) Standing Committees meet at least twice a year, normally in the fall and spring. Read more to see this fall's committee reports from our LFA reps.
See also our local rep Stephen Phillip's Report on the FPSE Annual General Meeting held via Zoom last June.
Education Policy Committee (EPC) - Stephen Phillips
The EPC’s Fall meeting, held online on November 27th, was short but productive. With a view to addressing the main goals of the EPC’s workplan for 2020-21, three sub-committees were established. The first, dealing with governance, is to assess and report on the degree to which academic matters such as instructional methods and modes of delivery are being decided by the appropriate academic governance bodies. The second is to liaise with FPSE’s Bargaining Coordination Committee (BCC) to support locals to negotiate, or grieve, an end to the use of student opinion surveys. The third subcommittee, to which I was recruited, is to assess and report on intellectual property protections in collective agreements and to recommend how they can be adapted to asynchronous on-line course delivery.
The meeting was ably chaired by Alan Rice (local 9) and addressed by Christine Neigel, newly elected First Vice President of FPSE. A former chair of the EPC, Christine now serves as executive liaison to the Committee.
Human Rights and International Solidarity (HRISC) - Bradley Hughes
As our local’s representative to the FPSE Human Rights and International Solidarity Committee, I was happy to attend the fall meeting on November 7, held via Zoom.
Our committee has been asked to “develop a COVID-19 equity lens” through which to “ask questions, challenge assumptions, and identify potential impacts of policies, programmes, and initiatives,” taking into account the diversity of our membership. Here at snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓, our local committee should meet to discuss what that looks like here. Do we have any information on the diversity of our membership? When non-regular instructors’ jobs are cut, who loses their jobs? Are those let go more likely to be Black, Indigenous, or people of colour? These are some of the questions I think we should investigate. I trust our local committee will develop a full list of questions at its next meeting.
This year’s speakers’ tour will be virtual and compressed into one or two online sessions. The tentative title is Exploitation at Home & Abroad—FPSE Sessions on Class, Race & Place. We hope to have speakers who can connect the racism behind differential international fees for education and the temporary foreign workers’ programme. Both rely on the poverty imposed on other countries by Canada to benefit the 1% here at home. We will have more details on dates and speakers early in 2021.
Our committee passed numerous motions suggesting social justice initiatives to be undertaken by the Federation. Following on the success of the Decolonization Manual, we have proposed that FPSE fund and promote a Handbook on Controversial Public Place Names and Monuments for the use of locals. Such a handbook would help locals to get involved in renaming place names and monuments that commemorate the sorts of criminals that are often lauded by official Canada. They include Spanish Navy officers whose careers were devoted to maintaining Spanish rule over colonies run on the labour of the enslaved.
I hope to convene our local committee early next year. To get involved, please contact me at [email protected].
Non-Regular Faculty Committee (NRFC) - Niall Christie
The Fall 2020 meeting of the Non-Regular Faculty Committee took place on October 16th and 17th. Points of note: Covid-19 has had a particular impact on non-regular faculty (NRF), which has manifested itself in a number of ways. Last-minute decisions by some institutions have made NRF job situations unstable, and a number of institutions have used the pandemic as an excuse to cut their NRF positions completely or renege on commitments made to NRF in bargaining or collective agreements. Precarity and exploitation remain the words of the day.
Fair Employment Week took place October 19-23. For obvious reasons, we did not run our usual information table at Langara; instead, FPSE teamed up with CAUT for a number of virtual events, information about which was circulated to members by the LFA.
Pension Advisory Committee (PAC) - Bryan Breguet
The meeting, naturally, was held online. The content was lighter than usual, which is understandable given the circumstances. The Trustees’ report showed the fund to be healthy, despite the drop in February-March, with a 1-year return of 5.8%, which is below the long-term objective. However, 5-, 10- and 15-year returns all exceed the necessary benchmark. One big upcoming change is the desire of BC Investment (BCI), the firm that manages the college pension fund, to change the asset mix, with a decrease of Canadian equities and a significant increase (from 20% to 40%) in fixed income. PAC members were a little surprised by this decision. The trustees explained that they had the same reaction but were ultimately convinced by BCI.
In other news, it was decided to send the sub-committee report on SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) to Presidents’ Council and BCI for comments. SFU still hasn’t officially applied to join the fund as it’s part of their bargaining. As a reminder, SFU would have to pay the full cost if they decide to join, so no extra cost would be borne by current members. Ken Shaw from local 11 remains chair while Alison Woods from local 15 is the trustee designate.
Status of Women Committee (SWC) - Melissa Roberts
The Status of Women Committee met for a very abbreviated Zoom meeting on October 16th. There was a discussion of inter-committee communication to better connect FPSE committees with one another and improve information sharing. There was also a 2020-2021 workplan discussion of:
- Looking at the pandemic-related accommodations through an equity lens
- How to support struggling members in the pandemic
- How the name of the committee does not reflect the diverse and intersectional nature of equity work (this topic was tabled for the Spring 2021 meeting).
There was also a discussion about the continued need for data collection. A task force was created to collect information from existing bargaining surveys, and then develop further survey questions and a mini-workplan.
Workplace Health, Safety and Environment (WHSEC) - Valerie Lloyd
On Nov. 13-14, 2020 I attended the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) Workplace Health, Safety and Environment (WHSEC) meeting over Zoom. Three motions were carried, in the form of recommendations to Presidents’ Council. The first concerned the challenges posed by the shift to remote work due to COVID-19, including the risk to members’ mental health. With that in mind, the Committee asserted the right of members to modify and reduce course content at their discretion and called on locals to consider negotiating reduced workloads, with no reduction in pay.
The second motion addressed the availability of mental health services for members. It called on FPSE to conduct an audit of employee and family assistance programmes (EFAP), including usage rates before and after the pandemic and appointment wait times.
The third motion addressed the environment, given the urgency of the climate crisis and its obvious implications for employee health and safety. The motion called for FPSE’s nascent Climate Committee to be granted full committee status as soon as practicable and for the Committee to be asked to prepare a position paper on how post-secondary institutions can contribute to an aggressive and constructive response to the issue of global climate change. The WHSEC proposed that such a paper could include the recommendation that BC develop a transition plan to shift from a fossil fuel-dependent economy to a green economy and that such a plan guarantee employment for displaced workers in green industries at comparable salaries.