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CAUT Bulletin Archives

February 2002

A Nasty Piece of Legislation

On Jan. 30, CAUT president Tom Booth and executive director Jim Turk wrote to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell protesting his introduction of Bill 28: Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act. The text of the letter follows. — ed.

We are writing to express our outrage at the legislation your government has imposed in the last few days. For our sector, Bill 28 is a pernicious attack on faculty, on the quality of education in the college system, and on the long-term relationship between faculty and college administrations. Should college presidents and boards be foolish enough to take advantage of unilateral powers your government has given them, they will plunge their institutions and the college system into years of hostility, ill will, and dysfunction.

The current collective agreements, which you have given presidents and college boards the right to rip up, are the result of a fair and just process of negotiation and compromise. When you allow one party to disregard its negotiated obligations, you undermine the trust on which labour relations rest and the trust necessary for any workplace to be productive and effective.

Not only does Bill 28 have the potential to sour working relations for years, it also can irreparably damage the quality of education offered by B.C.'s colleges and institutes. While you see class size and workload provisions as barriers to unilateral administrative control, faculty and students recognize these provisions as necessary to ensure high quality education. They create working conditions that help allow students to receive the attention they deserve. If these provisions are stripped from collective agreements, students will experience larger classes, less time for interaction with faculty, and learning conditions designed by administrations to save money rather than by faculty to facilitate a meaningful and worthwhile educational experience.

To make matters worse, Bill 28, if acted upon by presidents and boards, will also cripple the ability of B.C.'s colleges, university colleges, and institutes to attract new faculty and retain many of their existing faculty. As the baby boom generation approaches retirement age in the coming few years, there will be intense competition across Canada and North America to find faculty to replace colleagues who have retired. Institutions that disrespect negotiated contracts and allow faculty members' educational judgment to be overridden by managers will find it very difficult to compete in the job market.

If you have any concern for the future of your province and the quality of education you provide to this and future generations of students, you will withdraw Bill 28. We will do absolutely everything in our power to assist our members in B.C. in getting your government to reverse its ill-considered and destructive policies.

Thomas Booth
President, CAUT

James L. Turk
Executive Director, CAUT