A Message from Your KFA President, August 2022
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
Welcome back to another busy Fall term. I hope you found time to relax and even enjoy some travel this summer. I trust that you will find this KFA update informative and please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns.
Labour Day 2022
Your KFA Table Officers would like to wish you a happy Labour Day long weekend!
Labour Day has been a statutory holiday in Canada since 1894 and originates in the 1872 Toronto printers’ fight for a nine-hour work day. The Toronto printers’ strike was ultimately successful in achieving the nine-hour work day, and those events led to the Trade Unions Act of 1872 which made it legal to belong to a trade union. Since that time, local, provincial, and national solidarity has led to improved working conditions for unionized and non-unionized workplaces alike—improvements such as minimum wage, sick leave, maternity and parental leave, and the right to a safe work environment.
This Labour Day, your Kwantlen Faculty Association encourages you to reflect on unionized labour in British Columbia. Over the Summer, unions such as the BCGEU have been leading the fight for fair wages and working conditions within an inflationary context. You might ask: what does this have to do with us? Well, it is the negotiations and strike or job actions of unions such as the BCGEU that lead to a bargaining and wage framework for the entire public sector. While we have continued to work through the summer as usual, our BCGEU and other union allies have been on the front lines fighting for our wages. The KFA encourages you to support the struggles of all public sector unions. Together, we can achieve real gains at the bargaining table.
A comprehensive list of 2022 Labour Day events across Canada can be found at https://canadianlabour.ca/events/labour-day-events-2022/
Please join me in welcoming incoming KFA Vice President Raphael Lagoutin who will be leading negotiations this round. As alluded to above, no provincial framework or mandate has yet been set by the BC Provincial Government. This has somewhat hindered both parties’ ability to freely bargain and discuss monetary items. We will continue negotiations in Fall 2022 and more updates will follow.
Conflict of Interest Update
Many faculty members have raised concern about the recent changes to KPU’s Conflict of Interest (COI) Policy and your KFA shares these concerns. On May 31st 2022, we put out a communication to members encouraging anyone who has concerns about the policy to post them on the policy blog. As a result, we went from seven (7) comments to over fifty comments in a very short time.
The new policy has now been approved and posted, and, perhaps as a result of our work, an important change was made to the policy in C. Statement of Policy Principles, 4. Outside Activities, c.
This policy requires that employees notify their immediate supervisor or appropriate vice-president as quickly as possible where that employee is simultaneously employed with another institution or organization, or involved in any outside activities, and where that employment or outside activity may potentially compromise or diminish the employee’s ability to fulfill their employment obligations to the University as outlined above.
The KFA position is that the policy now reads that reporting only occur “where that employment or outside activity may potentially compromise or diminish the employee’s ability to fulfill their employment obligations to the University as outlined above.” The original wording of the draft policy meant reporting must occur whether or not there was a real or potential COI. The addition of the word “and” makes all the difference. If this language is relevant to your situation, please reach out to the KFA for support and/or confirm with the Employer whether or not you need to report under this policy.
It is worth emphasizing that this change to the Policy is an example of collective action at work. Faculty members mobilizing and organizing can result in significant changes at KPU. Thank you all.
LOU #13: Over enrolment
As you may know, Letter of Understanding #13: Joint Committee on Class Size Past Practice was negotiated in the last round of bargaining. The KFA understood that the joint committee would discuss the past practices of class sizes for approximately 50 courses. We now believe that the Employer understood that the joint committee would discuss the past practices of class sizes for upwards of 500 courses. Since the parties “fail[ed] to agree on specific increases to registration limits” (LOU#13), the matter went to arbitration.
Arbitrator Ken Saunders helped the parties negotiate a settlement agreement whereby a Department might “opt-in to allow specific courses to be over-enrolled…by up to 5 students (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5).” In essence, decisions about over-enrollment are departmental decisions made on a course by course basis. Further, should the class remain over-enrolled past the stable enrollment date, faculty would receive compensation of $225 for each student payable on specific dates. The goal is to achieve a target of 75% of 3000 students (2250) by January 31, 2023. For the full agreement, please log onto yourkfa.ca. Once logged on, you should find the agreement here: https://yourkfa.ca/assets/media/SETTLEMENT-AGREEMENT-Over-enrolment_FINAL-1.pdf
Please see the following tool developed for Over-enrolment Tracking and scroll down to “tracking” under “Over-enrolment Report.” While the numbers still need to be verified, it appears as though there were 435 over-enrolled seats out of 742 spaces in Summer 2022, and, to date, 708 seats of 1010 spaces in Fall 2022. If the numbers on the tracking tool do not match what is happening in your area, please be in touch.
While we encourage you to consider the over-enrollment process in your department, and we may be a bit shy of our overall target so far, this data also tells us that the Employer’s premise of “if you increase class size, they will come” was incorrect since there are seemingly a few hundred unfilled spaces each term—at least with the data we have to date.
Please contact the KFA with any questions.
Over the past year, the KFA has received many inquiries about Post-65 benefits, and members have asked us if improving these benefits is a priority and whether age-based benefits are discriminatory.
In the first instance, members have been informed that KFA priorities are set by the membership. As an issue important to some members, improving Post-65 benefits was one of the bargaining priorities approved by the general membership for this round of bargaining.
When we last reviewed the faculty numbers reported by the Employer to PSEA, we observed a total of 1002 faculty members. Of these, 94 are post-65 members, 116 are aged 61-65, and 166 are aged 51-55. So, while we have about 10% post-65 faculty members, 38% of us may potentially consider this issue pressing in the coming years, and it is likely a concern for all of us who hope to have a full career at KPU.
People often ask me about my personal position on post-65 benefits. The answer remains the same: I don’t have a particular position other than to say that my task is to work on behalf of members and this is why improvements for post-65 members are one of many bargaining priorities this round. There is no guarantee, of course, but it is something the KFA bargaining team will be pursuing within the balance of representing the needs of all members.
Is the current state of post-65 benefits discriminatory? Unfortunately, the answer is “no,” despite how we may personally feel about the topic. There are legal cases challenging post-65 benefits on the basis of discrimination, but until these cases are resolved there is no discrimination according to the law.
The matter is covered in the BC Human Rights Code Section 13 Discrimination in Employment. Section 13 (1)(b) means, among other things, that a person must not be discriminated against on the basis of the “age of that person.” Yet, 13 (3) States that “Subsection (1) does not apply [emphasis added]…(b) as it relates to…a bona fide group or employee insurance plan….” The quoted language means that such discrimination is legal as it relates to an insurance plan, and at KPU we do have a bone fide insurance plan in place. As recently as 2020, the BC Human Rights Tribunal confirmed that bona fide employee insurance plans are not discriminatory.
What can we do? As mentioned, we try to negotiate improvements at the bargaining table. We also await the outcomes of the legal challenges to the current state of law on this important issue.
Observations: Trends and Patterns
Over the past months, KFA Table Officers and Executive Representatives have been observing various trends and patterns at KPU.
One trend in the Spring and Summer that you may have noticed is the numerous time release positions the Employer has made available for faculty. What you may not know is that the KFA is an integral part of making sure these positions are “guided by the principles of fairness and transparency” as per the Collective Agreement. In each instance, the Employer approached the KFA with the idea for a time release position and the KFA was able to work with the Employer to ensure that the provisions of the Collective Agreement were followed. This is a clear example of where working with Deans, Associate Deans, the VP Academic, and other administrators can lead to positive outcomes for faculty.
Despite this positive collaboration on time release, other concerning trends have occurred. The most obvious trend is what we refer to in “union-speak” as a “management rights grab.” This happens when an Employer seeks to expand their ability to control and direct the workforce in whatever manner they best see fit; often, this occurs with little regard for faculty members or their interests at KPU.
What does this look like? One example is the initial draft language of the Conflict of Interest Policy, which would have required reporting of all external employment under threat of discipline.
We see it too in increasing violations of the Collective Agreement which necessitate more Union grievances.
Another trend is a quickness to discipline faculty members, sometimes excessively. Please know that if you are called to any meeting with the Employer, for any reason, you have the right to Union representation. We can help you understand you rights and we can defend the processes laid out in our Collective Agreement.
The most startling trend we have seen over the past few months is what appears to be increased hostility to faculty members seeking accommodations. These are faculty members who may be ill, may be injured, may be caring for critically ill loved ones, or who may be facing other adverse circumstances. We are seeing these members, who are already in a difficult position, being subjected to invasive and unprecedented inquiries, to unreasonably delayed processes, and to denials of their accommodations. There seems to be a general unwillingness on the part of the Employer to help a fellow person in need. Just this past week we have filed three grievances related to these matters, on behalf of six faculty members. While words such as “decency” or “dignity” may seem old-fashioned, it is our genuine hope that we can reach agreement with the Employer to find a fair, transparent, and dignified process going forward.
You have the right to KFA representation in all processes related to accommodations; stay tuned for an upcoming KFActs on this topic later in Fall 2022.
If there is a trend or pattern in your area that the KFA ought to be aware of, please be in touch.
Welcome Kristie Dukewich!
The KFA warmly welcomes Kristie Dukewich who will be joining our KFA Table Officer Team as a Member-at-Large in Fall 2022.