Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

February 2002

Respect Collective Agreements CAUT Warns B.C. Colleges

CAUT is urging British Columbia's college presidents to respect the collective agreements they have negotiated with faculty or face censure.

"The passage of Bill 28, the Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act, forces you to make a choice that will have implications for your institution for years to come," said CAUT president Tom Booth and executive director Jim Turk in a letter sent to college presidents Jan. 28.

Bill 28, hastily passed by the provincial Liberal government of Gordon Campbell, gives B.C. colleges the power to ignore provisions in collective agreements and to unilaterally increase class sizes, require faculty members to take on more students, and force teachers to deliver courses on-line.

"We hope you have the integrity, courage, and honesty to respect your collective agreement," the letter says. "If you accept Premier Campbell's offer to disregard your negotiated commitments, you will plunge your institution into years of hostility, ill will, and dysfunction. Such an action will signal that your word is of no account; that agreements reached with you are not worth the paper on which they are written."

CAUT is warning that colleges that choose to override collective agreements will face censure, an action that can isolate them from the academic community in Canada and abroad.

"We urge you to reaffirm publicly your commitment to the agreement negotiated with your staff. Should you choose to use Bill 28 to abrogate provisions of that agreement, we will bring a motion to the April meeting of CAUT Council calling for a censure of your institution. Such a censure would be advertised widely — in the academic world nationally and internationally."

College educators in British Columbia have expressed outrage over Bill 28.

Maureen Shaw, president of the College Institute Educators' Association of B.C. said she was shocked by the government's attack on the working conditions of faculty members and the quality of post-secondary education in the province.

"The high quality of education that students in our institutions receive has largely been the result of provisions that faculty have negotiated in our collective agreements, including limits on class size and student numbers, language regarding the use of on-line learning, and access to professional development time," she said.

The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia has pledged its support for college faculty in fighting Bill 28.

"Although Bill 28 may give college and institute administrators the power to raise class sizes and otherwise degrade the quality of education, we hope they don't go down that road," said CUFA/BC president Darwyn Coxson. "If they choose that course of action, then we welcome investigations by CAUT leading to possible censure."

The Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act can be found at gov28-1.htm