This is the second in a series of FPSE Bargaining Bulletins aimed at keeping Locals and individual members better informed about the consequences of rising inflation, ongoing contraction of your faculty rights, and the encroachment of managerial liberties. The ongoing devaluation of labour and the systemic reliance on individual workers to make up budgeting shortfalls has an already strained workforce near the breaking point, read on to see what CCFA members can reasonably expect their wage increase to be. Remember, until the ink is drying on the signatures of our new Collective Agreement, the bargaining committee can make no promises! But we are all working very hard to ensure you get the best contract possible!
Lynelle YutaniPresident, CCFA
How Does The “Shared Recovery Mandate” Stack Up Against Inflation?
Are you sure you really want to know this? I wasn’t… but then morbid curiosity got the better of me. Our Union is 48 years old. In less than two years, we will celebrate OUR golden 50th anniversary, just three years behind Camosun College’s. So lets see how well we weathered inflation during that time. Let’s just start with how much we should be making if our wages had just kept up. Maybe you read our previous FPSE Bargaining Bulletin on Shrinking Wages? Well, it’s much worse than we thought.
Over time, the CCFA Salaries have been losing about 6% of their value per year against inflation in the past two decades and almost 8% in the last year alone. We’d need almost a 10% increase to just correct for inflation right now and COLA in any subsequent years of our next contract to not fall further and further behind.
Now, that isn’t’ to say that we aren’t incredibly privileged to be earning what we are… Instead, it is an indictment of the PSEA and wage suppression in BC. No longer can a new, bottom of the scale CCFA (or even Step 4, which is the highest initial placement typically allowed by the C.A.) employee with a full time continuing position afford to live independently in the CRD. That wasn’t true 48 years ago when our Union was first formed… and we have a long ways to go to fix that.
But enough about how crappy the past has been… what do we have to look forward to?
FPSE Bargaining Bulletin – FPSE Wage Scenario and the implications of the BCGEU Salary Agreement
Bargaining in BC’s public sector is usually governed by a provincial mandate. Historically, the pattern is set by the union first to reach an agreement. In this round, GEU, along with the HEU and CUPE K-12 employees, seem to have been able to hammer out a deal first and the ratification votes by their members. You can see all of the contracts that have been ratified so far by checking on the Bargaining Status link on the BC Gov “Shared Recovery Mandate” site.
The following reflects on the GEU tentative salary agreement (GEU TSA) and offers a translation of what it might mean for members in our sector. Given the complex nature of work at our institutions, the comparison only uses the FPSE Common Agreement’s Step 1 salary ($98,978) in its calculations.
The BCGEU Salary Agreement*
The general wage increases of the GEU SA include:
- Year 1 – Effective April 1, 2022 increase all rates of pay by 25 cents per hour and then increase all rates of pay by 3.24%.
- Year 2 – Effective April 1, 2023 increase rates of pay by the annualized average of BC CPI over 12 months starting on March 1, 2022 to a minimum of 5.5% and a maximum of 6.75%.
- Year 3 – Effective April 1, 2024 increase rates of pay by the annualized average of BC CPI over 12 months starting on March 1, 2023 to a minimum of 2% and a maximum of 3%
How The Shared Recovery Mandate Might Translate to FPSE Salaries
The most complicated element of the GEU SA, for our sector is the $0.25/ hr. increase. Assuming a 37.5-hour work week, $0.25 would translate to $487.5, or .49%**. This, when added to the 3.24% would mean an increase of 3.73% in the first year.
|Step 1 Salary||$95,134||$97,037||$98,978||$102,680||$108,327||$110,494|
|Step 1 Salary||$102,680||$109,610||$112,899|
|Annual BC CPI***||2.70%||2.20%||0.60%||3.70%|
Be Careful What You Wish For
While it is tempting to want to see salaries increase by the greatest amount possible, please remember that the Year 2 and Year 3 maxima may be outstripped by inflation. If the BC CPI were to exceed the respective 6.75% and 3%, members would experience an erosion of purchasing power.
Now that GEU members (and many other unions) have ratified their agreements, our membership has some idea of what they can expect to see in terms of a wage offer. However, with most locals just now beginning to bargain and with several issues to discuss, members should not be lulled into expecting a swift conclusion to this round.
It is also important to note that even in agreements that appear to have won additional monies, we’re being told at the table (and this is NO secret) that the agreement can be “mined” for more money. What that actually means is that we can choose to eliminate some things that cost money from one section of it to pay for things that we want in another. Basically a Zero Sum Game which, when paired with wage mandates actually results in the erosion of members’ rights.
This is going to be a tough round and don’t expect a settlement anytime soon. However, now that so many have settled under the Shared Recovery Mandate, you can reasonably expect that we’ll be offered the same, because it is a mandate after all.
* Full details of the GEU TA can be accessed through: BCGEU reaches tentative agreement in B.C. public service bargaining – BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU)
** 37.5 hrs/ wk. x $0.25/ hr. x 52 weeks/ year = $478.50/ yr. // $478.50 / $98,978 = 0.004925 *** BC CPI data can be accessed at: Consumer Price Index (CPI) – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)