Fatigue, vaccines, hope and holidays
Thinking back as I write this now, I am quite sure that in each letter I write I say something about what a “long, strange trip it’s been” this year. I know you are exhausted. I know you are worried about the variants of concern and the vaccine roll out that is not as fast as we’d like. I know there is some hope that it will really happen – we will all get vaccinated and we will be able to gather with friends and family and – gasp – even small crowds – by the summer. I know that many of you have delayed your holidays until you can travel, and I understand this. I hope you balance your desire to have the holiday you want with your body’s need to have the holiday it requires. Get any and all rest you can. We are all of us running on fumes and only we can press pause.
Heavy Mechanical Trades at Annacis Island
Since 2014, our HMT program has shared space at Annacis Island with BCIT, however this program has been operating at VCC since 1949. Sadly, we learned in February that BCIT was no longer willing to contribute their share of the lease, and instead wanted to take over our programming, faculty and staff. This came as a great shock to the faculty working there, faculty who are committed to VCC and have no desire to work elsewhere. Through Education Council, the program is undergoing a feasibility study. In the meanwhile, Brendan Frith, Department Head of HMT and I met with government to advocate for the program and some emergency funding to allow us time to have the discussions and negotiations that need to happen. We in the FA are working with HR to figure out some timelines, and are hopeful that soon all the parties involved – administrators and unions from both BCIT and VCC will begin to discuss the many details of this potential transfer. At this point, faculty know that most likely their jobs as they know them are ending, and they don’t quite know when. At the end of a brutal year, this must be exceedingly taxing. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that faculty have clear timelines for this change as soon as possible and that their rights and benefits are protected. Please send your solidarity to our HMT faculty.
Return to face-to-face in September
Many of our programs have been on campus, teaching face-to-face for almost a year now. They have paved the way for us, and we thank them for their work. Hats off to faculty in the following departments who have been working at least partially in person over the past months:
Acute Care Skills/Automotive Collision and Refinishing/Automotive Service Technician/Asian Culinary Arts/BS of Nursing/Baking and Pastry Arts/Basic Education/CACE/Culinary Arts/Dental Hygiene/Dental Assisting/Dental Reception Coordinator/Dental Technology/Digital Media and Design/Hair Design and Aesthetics/Health Care Assistant/Health Unit Coordinator/Heavy Mechanical Trades/Hospitality Management/Jewelry, Art & Design/Library/ CF Math/MedicalLab Assistant/Music/Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistant/Pharmacy Technician/Practical Nursing/Salon and Spa/CF Science/Gemmology
For those of you who have been working remotely, September is likely to bring some anxiety, but also I hope some excitement and comfort that we will be able to connect with students in a more nourishing way. The government is meant to be making some sort of announcement over the next few days about our return to campus in September. The EOC and the working group focussed on faculty issues around a safe return are working together on this issue, and the FA is represented on both.
Financial Costs of Remote Teaching
We would like to remind you that we maintain our position (and uphold our collective agreement language) that faculty who teach remotely must be provided the tools they need to do their work. We have not dropped or forgotten this issue. We are part of a provincial labour board submission regarding this topic and we also have a grievance filed at VCC. Please continue to hold onto receipts for any expenses incurred while working remotely. We ask for your patience as these processes unfold.
Our 2019-2022 agreement has now been edited and soon we should have some copies for distribution! Thanks to the bargaining team for their efforts! In addition, your new bargaining team (Frank Cosco, John Demeulemeester, Alison Woods, Karen Brooke, Nahid Ghani, and Lorraine Rehnby) have begun meeting weekly as well as holding drop-in session in preparation for our next round.
Covid and India
In light of the recent escalation of cases of Covid 19 in India, we wish to acknowledge any Indo-Canadian faculty, staff and students who may be worried about loved ones, or who have lost loved ones.
On behalf of the Anti-Racism working group, we send thanks to everyone who participated in the IBPOC and Ally caucus sessions over the past few weeks. We are planning for the next sessions, and we look forward to working with all of you. Please stay tuned for details of the upcoming sessions.
See you at the General Meeting, June 3rd, 2021 at 3:00 pm!