Category: Workload

Can You Say “Precariat”?

Full-time teaching for Sessional Lecturers in Education at UBC is 15 credits/term (yes, really), and they make less per credit than anyone else at UBC. If they teach fewer than 7.5 credits in a term, they are still considered less than half-time and do not qualify for most UBC benefits. We need to fix these inequities for our Sessional Lecturer colleagues at UBC, and not just in Education. Most Sessional Lecturers hold PhDs or other terminal degrees and teach a significant number of UBC’s courses; many Sessional Lecturers also do curricular work, service, and research in their disciplines on their own time, unpaid. All Sessional Lecturers deserve to be treated fairly and paid as the highly-qualified professionals they are.

To Be Fair: UBC’s Lecturers

Lecturers are the fastest-growing cohort of UBC faculty, highly qualified academics and professionals, performing key work central to UBC’s mission.  Why, then, are they chronically over-worked and insecure?  These are two of the issues facing Lecturers that we are addressing in this round of bargaining.

Making It Work

It would be hard to over-state how much of a problem workload is for our membership. Everybody feels it; everybody wants it fixed. So: members who have read our “Day One” proposals will have noticed our Proposal #2: “The Association proposes to modify Part 1, Article 13 and Part 5, Article 7, to create workload language that is consistent with best practices at major Canadian research universities.” What exactly do we mean by that?

We know from our consultations that workload has created significant problems for most of our members, and we are addressing those in several different proposals. Here in Proposal #2, we are asserting one broad principle that appeals to the whole membership, and two that apply more specifically to the members (librarians and tenure-track faculty) with a pronounced mix of assigned and self-directed work. We have other workload proposals to address the additional specific issues facing Lecturers and Sessional Lecturers as well; these will be the subject of future bargaining posts.

Library Workload and the Confirmation Process

The Association continues to seek to modify Part 5, Conditions of Appointment for Librarians to ensure that workload is collegially assigned in a fair and equitable manner, and to create Heads language for the Library that mirrors Heads language for faculty (i.e., term appointments, stipend, administrative leave). In addition, in this round we have proposed a change in the confirmation review process and introduced definitions upon which candidates for confirmed appointments will be judged.

Bargaining Update: Workload

Workload is a major concern for UBC faculty and librarians alike.

In every bargaining survey from 2010 to the present, we have consistently heard that you are struggling with unhealthy workloads and difficult work-life balance challenges and significantly dissatisfied with the transparency and equity of workload assignments. The University’s Work Experience Survey (WES) confirms this unhappiness with workload…


A Lecturer is defined in the Collective Agreement as a person holding an appointment without review for a term of twelve (12) months or less with responsibilities limited to teaching and related duties. Those related duties may include administrative responsibilities normally undertaken by faculty members (i.e., not work normally undertaken by administrative staff). The university has proposed adding service to the duties of Lecturers, something to which the Association is not opposed in principle, although we recognize that with additional responsibilities should come additional compensation.

Why Workload Matters

Prior to the 2010 Bargaining Round the Association conducted its usual survey of its members. In that round, responding to many comments we had been receiving from members, we inserted a special section in the survey on workload. What we found was significant dissatisfaction with the transparency and equity of workload assignments, as well as a concern that many members were suffering from unhealthy workloads and difficult work-life balance challenges. At that time we developed a proposal to the University on faculty workload that aimed to make sure that our members would experience a healthy and productive work environment, with workloads assigned collegially, fairly and equitably. We based our proposal on workload language at other universities like the University of Toronto, Western and Queens, but particularly focussed on the University of Toronto.

Bargaining Themes: Three Big Issues Emerge

When the bargaining preparation committee analysed the input we got from members in face-to-face meetings, from emails, and from the survey, particularly the comments sections of the survey, three major issues emerged, in addition to widespread concern about salaries. Members can see that most of our non-salary proposals deal with these issues in one way or another.

First, we are increasingly observing what can only be described as symptoms of burnout.


We are hearing increasingly from faculty who are concerned with the rising demands placed on them, especially with respect to teaching and service, and with the way workload is managed in their units.

Spotlight on Workload

Our proposal to the university on faculty workloads (Proposal 5) aims to make sure that our members have a healthy and productive work environment, with workloads assigned collegially, fairly and equitably.