This post focuses on our Sessional Lecturer job security/access to work proposals.
Right to Additional Work
Sessional Lecturers without Continuing status have a right of reappointment. But to what, exactly? That was the question that was put to Arbitrator Rod Germaine in 2011. The answer, it turned out, was this: after all the other faculty in a department, including Continuing Sessional Lecturers, have been assigned their courses, any courses that remain constitute the Sessional Pool. Sessional Lecturers without a Continuing Appointment have a right to be assigned at least one course per year from that pool. Yes, you read that correctly: one single course. Any leftover courses are then assigned either to existing Sessional Lecturers or to new hires. Arbitrator Germaine agreed with the University’s position that UBC has the right to hire external candidates without going through a competition with existing Sessional Lecturers for the available courses. We believe that long-serving Sessional faculty deserve better.
Our proposal is that existing Sessional Lecturers should have a right to accrue additional courses for which they are qualified out of the Sessional Pool, on a length-of-service basis, up to a full-time load. This right would also apply to courses that are transferred out of the member’s department into another unit. With this provision, we can have the most experienced, most qualified faculty teaching UBC’s students. These experienced, qualified faculty can also develop, if the fit is right, something like a full-time job.
The Problem of Disappearing Work
Despite whatever rights of reappointment Sessional Lecturers have, these colleagues, like Lecturers, lack the job security of tenure. There’s a reason they are known as the precariat. UBC can make courses unavailable for Sessional Lecturers by moving the courses to a different department, by assigning them to tenure-track members, Lecturers, or without-review members, or simply by not offering them.
In order to ensure that our existing Sessional Lecturers, many of whom have provided exemplary service to the University over many years, have a fair opportunity to access work as the needs of departments change, we propose to give them the opportunity to be considered first for new Lecturer positions. As faculty who have both provided and gained relevant expertise and experience, they have earned the right to first consideration when a unit looks to provide year-long or multi-year salaried teaching positions. Hiring processes for Lecturer positions will always be merit-based and dependent on qualifications for the intended work, but we think it is only fair and intelligent to first consider Sessional Lecturers, who have proven repeatedly that they can do the work, for Lecturer positions when such become available.
Payment for Non-Renewal of Appointment
An important safeguard that Continuing Sessional Lecturers have is the payment they receive if their appointments are not renewed. Continuing Sessional Lecturers whose appointment is not renewed may currently retain the right to recall or receive a payment based on one (1) month’s salary for each year of full-time equivalent service. What is not completely clear in our current provision is which month’s salary would form the basis for the severance payment, so the parties have relied on past practice: calculating the average salary over the past academic year – and sometimes two where the amount of work has been reduced – to ensure that months of higher earnings are part of the severance calculation. In order to streamline the process and ensure consistent calculations, we propose that the payment should be based on the highest month’s salary in the previous three years. Just as faculty denied tenure are given time to find their feet, this provides Continuing Sessional Lecturers (many of whom have served UBC for over 15 years) some limited financial security while they find new work.
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