The CFF Grows in the 1970s

Follows: 2 - CFF Starts

At the first AGM, the decision was made to have interim executive meetings and AGMs at the various locals. Committee members developed positions on what should go into a College Act, and shared information on salaries and working conditions. By 1971, a professional development committee had also been struck. 

The first budget was for $2,445; the last one for 1979-80, estimated $41,708 in expenses.

Presidents had one year terms, and then continued on the executive as members-at-large.  Member locals also grew, as Cariboo joined in 1971, and Columbia College and BCIT faculty applied for associate membership. In 1972, Douglas and Camosun faculty associations joined. Camosun pulled out in 1973. NWCC and East Kootenay FAs joined in 1976, and North Island and Fraser Valley in 1977. VIA and BCIT Staff Society worked on a fee for service basis. Camosun rejoined in 1978.

Because several colleges merged with vocational institutes, "the meld", there were joint conventions with the Society for Vocational Instructors in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1977.

College faculty faced some big issues in the 70s: were they professionals or unionists, or could they be both? They had to deal with restraint through the 70s: SoCred cuts in 1972, NDP cuts in 1975, and more SoCred austerity in the late 70s.

Dave Barrett's New Democrats were elected in August 1972, ending 20 years of W.A.C. Bennett's Social Credit government. There were sweeping reforms, and more legislation passed in little over three years than BC had ever seen before. A new labour board heard applications from college faculty for certification, but refused to include part-time faculty in some of the unions. And the NDP term coincided with an OPEC oil crisis (October 1973 to March 1974), 

The Vocational Instructors' Association strike at Vancouver Vocational Institute, Vancouver School of Art, Langara, & special programs from September 10-16, 1974 affected 3,000 students. The union had been bargaining with the College Council since January, but the employer refused to budge on concessions introduced in the first session; a 2 day study session led to 2 days' docked pay, so the union voted 90% to strike, and exercised that just after classes started up in September. After mounting pressure from students at all the job sites, the Council and union agreed to an Industrial Inquiry. 

At the same time, a CUPE strike in K-12 in the West Kootenays affected 9,000 students (schools in Castlegar, Grand Forks and Trail, and Selkirk College were disrupted by the 12 day strike - workers would get a 31% pay increase over 2 years). Vancouver Sun, Sept. 16. 1974. p. 1

These strikes led some college faculty to rethink their role as trade unionists. When Vancouver Instructors' Association (VIA) picket lines went up on September 10 at Langara, a general meeting voted to honour the picket line. Capilano Faculty Association responded quickly to show solidarity by setting up a strike support committee, printing leaflets to correct media misinformation, and sent a $500 contribution to the VIA. The CFF had scheduled a special general meeting in October to deal with constitutional matters, but added a session on the VIA strike. After the groundwork of the dispute was explained, a Q & A followed, and Ed Lavalle from Capilano was asked why his association acted to quickly to support the VIA. Here was his answer:

For several reasons. First, the Association at CC is established as a trade union; consequently, we wanted to learn and exercise good trade union practices. Second, the history of our own Association has been that of a continual struggle between the Association and the Council. The tough bargaining during the negotiation of a Collective agreement made the importance of collective action obvious to us. Third, there was an opportunity to get together the desparate [disparate] groups within the Association who, for various reasons, have not always pulled together. The VIA strike did provide the chance for us to realize that we all must work together.

One of the big issues in the early 70s was whether Vocational schools should join community colleges, and, if so, how would that happen. In the beginning, the vocational instructors at the regional schools were employees of the province. When the colleges were established, often on top of or near the vocational schools, instructors had to talk to each other about using facilities, and comparing working conditions, pay, benefits, etc. At CNC, a joint committee was established early on: Bob Martin was a welder, and, in 1972, President of the provincial Society of Vocational Instructors; Gordon Ingalls was President of FACNC, and, in 1971-2, Vice-President of the CFF. Bob Martin was invited to the December 1971 meeting of the CFF Executive in Nanaimo, and afterwards, a newspaper article about the meeting was published in the Nanaimo Daily Free Press (Dec. 6, 1971, p. 1) with a picture of CFF President Sonja Sanguinetti and SVI President Bob Martin.


A March 24, 1972 BCGEU memo referenced the meld at five schools (Kamloops, Prince George, Victoria, Kelowna and Nanaimo) which were under a "Use and Occupancy Agreement" with the respective colleges that could last 3 years: employees transferred over to the colleges would lose all fringe benefits except pensions, and there was no assurance of job security. The memo went on to say that the "Regional College will expect all instructors to join the Faculty Ass. We hope this won't happen. We feel that we should still try for certification [for instructors] and for support staff, such as, clerical, B.S.W, public works, and engineering."

Interim melding agreements were put in place in July 1972, but when the NDP came to power, melding institutions was not a high priority, and there were delays. Part of this was because the government allowed public servants to unionize, and the vocational instructors mostly joined the BCGEU. It also became clear that the Labour Board was willing to certify two instructional bargaining units, one for the community colleges and the other for vocational instructors.

At CNC, the meld was supposed to happen in the spring of 1973, but A.E. Soles, now Superintendent of Post-Secondary Education in the Ministry of Education, sent a letter to the college on March 12 asking the college to defer the transfer of 17 vocational instructors to the college. Then, on April 5, 1973, Minister Dailly sent a memo to all college principals and councils, copied to the CFF and BCGEU, that the meld would go ahead as soon as possible in Victoria, Nanaimo, Kamloops, Okanagan, Prince George and Selkirk. Apparently, this came out of the blue, and the BCGEU threatened to cancel a pre-arranged meeting with the Minister to talk about a college act. Cooler heads prevailed, and on April 18, CFF President Gordon Ingalls and Sonja Sanguinetti, along with BCGEU General Secretary John Fryer met with Minister Dailly, expressing concerns about "the problem of our extra-legal status...and the question of certification." (Gordon Ingalls' memo to all CFF members, April 1973). Ingalls sent a very critical letter to the Minister on April 19, which upset several local presidents. The Camosun FA, which had just joined, pulled out of the CFF over this question.

The Minister set up two task forces, one on the meld, and one on community colleges in general. The SVI submitted a 10 page brief to the meld task force that was endorsed by the CFF, and the report, dated November 1, was obtained by the CFF when it was shared with a committee of the Okanagan College Council! Back at FACNC, vocational instructors and faculty continued to work together, and produced a document called "Guiding Principles on the Meld" that included pointed questions to ask the Community College Task Force when it came to Prince George on May 10.    

Still, nothing happened. Several vocational instructors were so frustrated that they sent a joint letter to Minister Dailly, pointing out the that Faculty Association had just negotiated improvements to their contract that they were not entitled to because they had not yet been transferred to the College. (June 28, 1974) The final report of the College Task Force suggested a clause be inserted into a College Act that recognized the transfer of public service employees. (p. 33).

In the end, faculty at CNC and Cariboo joined their local faculty associations; those at BCIT, Camosun, Malaspina, Northwest, Northern Lights, Okanagan, and Selkirk did not.

The CFF was stunned in 1975 when Minister Dailly laid our budget guidelines for the colleges and BCIT limiting their overall funding increase to 15%. This was in the context of the government doubling its spending on colleges since 1972, but also responding to institutions submitting requests for 70% more, or in one case, 117% more, including a 115% increase in administrative costs: "...we find these unacceptable." The only exception would be development costs for the four new colleges: North Island, Northern Lights, Northwest and East Kootenay.  

As the CFF grew, relying on volunteer executives and departmental secretaries wherever the President happened to teach, the 1975 AGM grappled with the choice between providing release for the President or hiring an executive director. Neither ended up happening in the short term, but provision was made for a full-time field organizer and locals agreed to a $10 levy per member for lobbying. Eric Green was the first and only Director of Research and Field Organizer (DORAFO): he had been a journalist in Kamloops, a UBC PH.D. student, and ministerial assistant to Gary Lauk for a couple of years, and helped set up the Universities Council of BC (a predecessor of the Research Universities Council). He started in September 1975, and immediately made an impact. He brought new locals on board, supported bargaining, researched issues for the federation, and lobbied government with executive members.  

When Dave Barrett called a snap election on November 3, his government was defeated on December 11. So it was left to the SoCreds to revamp the system according to their wishes: one of the first things Dr. Pat McGeer, the new Minister of Education, did was to review the composition of college councils and conclude that "significant changes are necessary." He asked existing council members to cooperate with the new government and not make any significant decisions until new council members were appointed. He also fired all five appointed NWCC Council members (not the five school district appointees) for overstepping their authority in hiring a principal. The CFF sent Eric Green to investigate, and after his report, President Jim Slater issued a press release on January 16, 1976:

Dr. Jim Slater, President of the College Faculties Federation of B.C., today made the following statement regarding developments at Northwest Community College: "We have concluded an initial investigation of the recent developments at Northwest Community College.

The move to suspend the decision making powers of the legally constituted college councils represents an unprecedented and alarming political intervention into college governance.

The investigation just concluded indicates that the teaching capacity of the non vocational faculty at Northwest College has been seriously impaired.

There is considerable concern among faculty members regarding the future of programmes through the college region.

The four new colleges in B.C. (at Terrace, Dawson Creek, Cranbrook and Campbell River) were developed with an eye to providing important, even vital, educational services in their respective regions. These regions are some of B.C.' s primary wealth - producing areas.

The services being added to the vocational component at Terrace were established to serve both the communities' general populations and disadvantaged sectors including native people, women and the labour force of the area.

This labour force comprises four-fifths of the citizens of the region. Loss of these programmes would be a direct blow to all these people.

As serious, however, is,an unprecedented degree of direct political interference in the academic decision making process.

In effect the Minister has challanged a college council's right to determine executive appointments. College councils are 'employers of record' under the Labour Code of B.C., and not the Minister, nor the Department of Education. This attacks directly the critical principle of local autonomy.

We ask the Minister to explain and justify this political intervention.

The intervention of an M.L.A. [Cyril Shelford] in the selection process for a principal and administrative personnel, is very improper in our view.

The acting principal, formerly principal of the vocational school was himself a candidate for the position of principal of the new college. He appears to have taken part in meetings in Victoria out of which decisions were made that were directed specifically at Northwest College, not to all colleges.

The Department indicated to the college council members that it was prepared to recognize only two candidates for principal, although each council member had prepared a private list, and a final short list had been assembled from these. 

We question whether this procedure reflects the interests of the northern communities involved and whether the department has a right to impose personnel on the new college.

If the recent decisions suggest expansion of Departmental powers in this very important area of academic decision making the future of community colleges will be taken from the hands of locally elected members of the college councils. 

If these recent decisions attack individual faculty members the CFFBC will be deeply alarmed. The Federation will meet on January 31st to discuss these issues.

We intend to watch closely the developments at Northwest College and throughout the college system.

The CFFBC represents the interests of 1200 faculty members in B.C.' s community colleges.

The federal government's anti-inflation program had a direct effect on college funding. Instead of the "draconian" increases Dailly had proposed in 1975 (only 15% more than the previous year), the new government would limit increases to 8.5%, less than the rate of inflation. In a press release dated April 14, 1976, the CFF reported that salary increases were in the 3% range and college councils were pushing higher class sizes; that layoff notices were being issued at Cariboo; and that 70% of Capilano's instructors were on temporary contracts. The release concluded that the CFF would be joining the BCTF "in its struggle against the educational policies being established by the Provincial Government." (CFF Newsletter, 76-18, April 23, 1976, p. 2) 

The Capilano Faculty Association, facing restraint and workload increases in the spring of 1976, and weeks with no progress at the bargaining table, took a vote to take a strike vote on April 1st (85%), and then a strike vote on April 6th (81%), and delivered a message to the College Council to back off. As a result, College negotiators withdrew the workload proposal (to move from 4 X 4 to 5 X 3), and agreed to regularize long standing temporary positions.  

After months of speculation, the SoCreds introduced Bill 82, Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act, in the legislature's 1977 spring session. Shortly thereafter, President Fred Smith expressed the CFF's concerns in a newsletter editorial (March 15, 1978):

I believe college faculty in B.C. are facing one of the most important decisions we have ever had to make since the College Faculties Federation was created eight years ago.

I am taking this opportunity to put my view before you because I believe there are increasing pressures, internally and externally, that make it vital that we assess the current circumstances accurately, think our way forward to a consensus, and bring our views formally to the annual general meeting in May.

In the past five years, and increasingly over the last three, there has been a growth in pressure on financing of post-secondary education all through North America. Governments at all levels are increasingly challenging education, as a system, to justify the steadily growing commitment of public funds that are needed to finance universities and colleges.

More specifically, all levels of government are red pencilling many expenditures that ten years ago would have been financed. As faculty, we have an obvious and profound commitment to the processes of education. We work in a system that is dedicated to service to the public of all ages. We know we are important. The communities we serve know we are providing services they need. In B.C., the community college system has been an outstanding success since its inception, and we are the one sector of education experiencing steady increases in enrolments. This trend is likely to continue for a number of reasons.

Thus, at one level, we can rest assured that our jobs will be available because of sheer demand. We know, within our own minds, that education is our first concern. In a face -off, we would tend to choose our professional concerns over monetary ones. As well, as Canadians, we have committed ourselves to helping Canada in a time of economic crisis by accepting some constraints on growth of our income.

We have come, I believe, to a time when we must consider ways in which we can maintain what we have achieved in the community college system. As individual faculty and as members of institutions, we struggle for institutional goals. As private citizens, however, we face the same eternal difficulties that all Canadians do with meeting our family and personal obligations with a salary that is losing its buying power. We are also, I believe, being asked increasingly to endanger the cause of quality education by chipping away at working conditions we have won through free collective bargaining.

In the past several months you have received information from the CFFBC, through your Director, about increasing pressure from the AIB [Anti-Inflation Board], from government agencies, from the College and Provincial Institutes Act, and from College Councils. These forces were not created by faculty; they are being generated externally in the political forum and in the communities we serve.

On every college campus where collective bargaining for faculty takes place, the character of the bargaining has changed dramatically.

I believe we have so far been able to hold our own against these forces, within the context of circumstances throughout Canada. I have, however, been witness for the past two years of a steady trend to centralization of decision-making. Through the expected mandatory re-certification vote we are being asked to consider a hitherto unexplained system of bargaining for our rights with our employers. Another question follows: with the establishment of new provincial councils, and replacement of councils with boards, will we be bargaining with our true employer?

While it is obviously impossible to predict the intentions of the government or councils or boards, I think it is nevertheless possible to identify clearly strong forces acting against our interests as educators.

It is for these reasons, and because of others, that many college faculty feel it is time we considered an alternative organization to the loose confederation we created with the original constitution of the CFFBC.

Faculty have already declared viewpoints covering the full spectrum of opinion from disbanding the CFFBC to creating a monolithic provincial union.

The Executive of the CFFBC last autumn decided it had a responsibility to generate debate on this issue on all campuses. We hope it was made clear to you in information we generated that the CFFBC has no official position on this question as yet. We feel we would be irresponsible not to inform you of the real external circumstances. The CFFBC was created to monitor issues and events that no faculty person alone could keep track of. Even individual associations have not been able, for a number of reasons, to afford time to ' take care of business' at the provincial and national level.

Organizations like the BCTF and the BCGEU, by contrast, have enormous resources available to them to deal with their problems. As President of the CFFBC over the past year, and Director the year before from Okanagan Community College, I have watched the Executives of the CFFBC struggle with the inherent, constitutional problems of attempting to represent our collective concerns as faculty: in many cases we have achieved far more than I would have expected; in others we have, to be honest, achieved far less.

Some of these are simply managerial difficulties that can be solved readily. But many are a function of the vastly changed circumstances we now find ourselves facing.

When we discussed the coming annual general meeting at a recent Executive meeting, it became clear there are strong pressures in the system to turn that event into a founding convention for a provincial union. Whether that is the particular moment or not is unimportant. What is important is that the College and Provincial Institutes Act has the potential for weakening our capacity to deal with our academic concerns.

In my own view, the question of a reasonable salary and working conditions is not separate from our ability to serve as educators. I do not separate these issues. Thus, any deterioration in either area will I be a blow to education.

The College and Provincial Institutes Act is being instituted piecemeal. It forces important decisions on the CFFBC annual general meeting.

The question of 'timing' has concerned me since we began to clearly apprehend the nature of the legislation, and to place its potential impact in the context of the broader events now conditioning us as educators.

Shall we wait until its potential is fully delivered?

Will we listen to the vague verbal assurance of some officials of the Ministry of Education that they believe in comprehensive community colleges?

Will we rely on the Council of College Principals, or the B.C. Association of Colleges to represent us vis -a vis the Ministry and the new provincial councils?

As you are no doubt aware, these questions, and the real answers to them provided by a Ministry that has largely bypassed college faculty as it created the new Act, will affect our lives profoundly for years to come.

We are at crossroads in the history of community colleges. We have a vital role to play in defending all colleges and the system against disruption and even destruction.

As I indicated above, many faculty are of the view that the CFFBC is no longer able to do a job in defending us at that level. Others believe it already goes too far in speaking collectively for faculty.

What is your view?

We have attempted to raise the debate and to stimulate an interest in your attending the annual general meeting to put your views forward. I believe we must all take part in these deliberations.

We hope that each campus will undertake serious discussions, using resource material alreadv provided or being prepared to make the discussions complete. It is important, as well, that these discussions be held with BCGEU locals on those campuses where they exist. The government stated its intention of melding units where two exist.

I would like to be available as a resource person for these discussions, but my own teaching schedule makes it impossible for me to do so. I have asked other executive members and Eric Green, DORAFO, to be available in my place. The cross-fertilization of discussions can assist associations in seeing the system as a single whole, avoiding the parochialism we faculty sometimes develop on a local basis.

At our periodic Executive meetings, which in some ways seem to me like a mini House of Commons, we hear a spectrum of opinion about how urgent the issue of developing a stronger agency to represent us is.

The CFFBC is playing a more aggressive role on this point than it has vis-a-vis membership on other issues. There is a strong possibility that some faculty associations will break away. They might try to create a new provincial union. They might join the BCGEU.

We have an opportunity to resolve our problems. I expect the AGM will be the focus of the central decision-making process.

I hope you will be there.

FRED SMITH, President

There followed two years of planning, countless meetings, draft constitutions, etc before CIEA was created in 1980. But as a result of the actions of employers and government, college faculty became stronger, more organized, more able to weather the challenges ahead, and more able to make gains that would benefit all British Columbians. 




The photo above is Dave Mitton (CFF's last President) handing a cheque for $10,000, what was left as the CFF wound up its operations, to Gordon Bryenton (CIEA's first President)  

Next: 4 - CIEA Founded