Report to the VCC Board of Governors, May 29th, 2023 Prepared by Taryn Thomson, VCCFA President
Recently our union went with a delegation to the Federation of Post-Secondary’s AGM, held in Kam loops. I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of the topics of concern and interest at the AGM.
Learning continues to occur around decolonizing our federation, our institutions, our rules and processes, our unions, and ultimately, ourselves. This work is deeply personal and profoundly impactful. Therefore, it is slow. I was fortunate to attend a Talking Circle workshop and participate in a Blanket Ceremony. This was nicely bookended by a talk on the last morning by Dr. Lee Brown (https://lfsiherg.sites.olt.ubc.ca/lee-brown-phd/) about emotional intelligence, the colonial way of valuing thinking over feeling, and the profound damage this has done to our society.
We had two speakers on the topic of equity. The first was Dr. Kumari Beck
(https://www.sfu.ca/education/faculty-profiles/kbeck.html) who spoke of the importance of inclusion (active, intentional and continuous) and of commitment (that must be bound to action). She said that EDI is not a set of issues, but a lens through which all issues should be considered. Next we heard from Be’s first Human Rights Commissioner, Kasari Govender (https://bchumanrights.ca/about-us/our-team/) about race based data collection. Her basic point was that if we are blind to race in our collection of data, we will not get the full picture.
FPSE is planning to do an equity audit and is hoping for participation from members from each local. The audit should happen in the fall. The VCCFA bargaining team has proposed that the college and union jointly undertake an equity audit of our employees to provide much needed data about who we are.
Equity came up a lot in our discussions in terms of members being able to fully participate in the work of the union. How do we make it possible for non-regular faculty, folks from marginalized groups, single parents to fully participate in the work of the union?
Future Ready Action Plan for BC
We heard about the Future Ready Action Plan from many speakers, but particularly from CAUT President Peter Mcinnis who raised red flags we all recognized as familiar about the trend towards incentivising micro credentials. We must question the educational merit of this trend since it comes not from educators, but from a government wanting to dole out easy cash in the run up to an election. I have been around long enough to remember the “Essential Skills” trend from the mid 2000’s, geared towards isolating skills needed for success in work and packaging them into short courses designed to get folks quickly upskilled and into the workforce. The problem with all of this is that for most of us, what is required is much more than a short six-week course. Literacy in 6 weeks? It’s preposterous and offensive to educators.
Here is a link to an article Mcinnis wrote about the topic:
Closer to Home
Back at VCC, we have stopped bargaining until the fall to allow for holidays for the bargainers. We continue to file grievances where necessary and work towards understandings with the college on a wide variety of issues. We are pleased that most of the EAL layoffs are about to be rescinded, but concerned that there are jobs on the line and reductions occurring in College Foundations. We will have more to report on that matter for the June BOG meeting.