In preparation for bargaining we have tracked the growth and changes in our bargaining unit over the past decade. Knowing who we are and how we’ve changed as a group of faculty, librarians, and program directors helps us determine how the university is evolving (or devolving) and which trends we might need to address. The table below tracks the composition of our active membership in 2006, 2012, 2015, and 2017. The numbers come from the December FACSNAP (central UBC personnel data) reports in those years.
The relatively small increase in overall membership between 2006 and 2017 partly reflects the movement away from Sessional Lecturers, who are paid by the course and are frequently part-time, to Lecturers, who are paid an annual salary and almost always full-time. With a smaller number of teaching-stream faculty, but more of them full-time, the reduction in headcount does not necessarily reflect a reduction in FTE membership.
Lecturers are the fasting growing classification in our bargaining unit, by far. The Educational Leadership stream is the second-fastest-growing classification. In contrast, the Professoriate, which expanded between 2006 and 2012 with the buildout of UBCO, has been shrinking since 2012. Retiring and resigning members of the Professoriate are clearly being replaced by members of other classifications, or not at all. The Professoriate itself is also becoming top-heavy, which could mean that this trend is at risk of accelerating as this larger group of older faculty reach retirement.
What are the implications of this evolution for the Faculty Association? First, there is no indication that UBC is reducing its reliance on contract faculty. So improving the lot of Lecturers and Sessional Lecturers is likely going to remain a priority for the foreseeable future. As long as the university thinks it can save money by hiring contract teaching-stream faculty as opposed to tenure-track faculty, it will allow the ratio of the former to the latter to increase. This shifting of positions away from tenure is an option we need to make more expensive for UBC, both for the health of tenure itself and for the wellbeing of our teaching-stream colleagues. Second, Lecturers have very different terms and conditions of employment than do Sessional Lecturers. It’s not clear that UBC fully understands all the implications of their decision to transfer work from the latter to the former classification. We need to be vigilant to make sure the university does not attempt to evade their obligations to Lecturers that were agreed upon in the last round of bargaining. Finally, the continuing growth of the Educational Leadership stream raises a concern that UBC is increasing their numbers, and reducing those of the Professoriate, not because of a perceived lack of educational leadership, but because the university wants to create a cadre of cheaper professors. This is something of which we need to be wary.
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