The VCCFA is the result of many transformations, all of them the work of a free, democratic association of education workers.

We created the VIA at VVI when it was one of the province’s network of vocational schools–two decades before community colleges came into being. Later, we took in the ESL, Special Needs, Adult Basic Education and College Preparatory faculty of the Special Programs Division of what was briefly Vancouver City College, headquartered at the old King Edward High School site at 12th and Oak. It was an integral part of the Vancouver School Board’s adult education programme. We did not allow distinctions to be made against our librarians and counsellors and they too became part of the union. We lost colleagues to other institutions, and gained others at different times.

All through these transformations we continued the struggle for a voice in the operations of the College, equitable working conditions and fair treatment. The struggles themselves were transforming–from the few high-profile strikes to the daily and weekly work of the members of the executive, stewards and committee representatives.

1951 to now

As unions do, we post our certification from the Labour Board at the VCCFA office. It’s our license to operate. A couple of years ago we noticed that the first version of the “cert” was dated February 1951.

We have tried to find out what we can of the union’s past, but it is often difficult. For example, it’s possible to speculate what went on between 1949 when Vancouver Vocational Institute (VVI) opened and 1951 when the Vocational Instructors’ Association (VIA), as we were known for our first forty years, was certified. Unfortunately, as with most of the early years, there’s hardly any available documentation.

The union’s work was then, as it still is, intertwined with the work that goes on through the institution of VCC and its predecessors. The history of the institutions becomes a large part of the personal history of the workers and in turn, of the history of the union. But there is much that is unique to the union.

The VCCFA is the result of many transformations, all of them the work of a free, democratic association of education workers. We created the VIA at VVI when it was one of the province’s network of vocational schools–two decades before community colleges came into being. Later, we took in the ESL, Special Needs, Adult Basic Education and College Preparatory faculty of the Special Programs Division of what was briefly Vancouver City College, headquartered at the old King Edward High School site at 12th and Oak. It was an integral part of the Vancouver School Board’s adult education programme. We did not allow distinctions to be made against our librarians and counsellors and they too became part of the union. We lost colleagues to other institutions, and gained others at different times. All through these transformations we continued the struggle for a voice in the operations of the college, equitable working conditions and fair treatment. The struggles themselves were transforming–from the few high-profile strikes to the daily and weekly work of the members of the executive, stewards and committee representatives.

Each of us has their own perception of their own story at VCC and their own perception of the work of the union. Some view the union’s work as part their work. Some view it as an advocate and as a service provider. Some view it as a protector of the rights and benefits in the collective agreement. We all know its role as a bargaining agent–protecting, clarifying and enhancing rights and salary. Some view it primarily in its role at VCC. Others have a view of its place in our provincial federation of faculty unions, CIEA (The College-Institute Educators’ Association of BC) now called FPSE (Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC) and our alliances with other education unions. Still others are concerned with its place in the wider labour movement and in social movements beyond. All of these views are correct. The union has been, and continues to be, all of these many things and its continuing history is something to celebrate. A process more than an institution.

This page will also continue to develop as stories are contributed and events are cited. We welcome your contributions, please send them in.

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Program for Change

The 2010 spark for the Program for Change was the thought, “Twenty years from now, do we want to be still talking about the issues of tenured and non-tenured and adjunct faculty with little comprehensive progress having been sought or achieved?”  The authors, Jack Longmate of Olympic College in Washington State and Frank Cosco of Vancouver Community College in British Columbia emphatic answer is, “No.”   The Program for Change is their effort to argue for and to map out incremental change.

The focus of this Program is doing whatever can be done to improve the worklife of the non-tenured and doing it whenever and as soon as it’s possible to do it.  The current state of inequity did not come about quickly, it will not go away quickly, but that does not mean real change cannot be achieved.

The Program could be used by any activist or activist group seeking more equitable workplace conditions.  It provides arcs of measurable progress on over thirty aspects of faculty work.  It was based on the most equitable existing conditions the authors are familiar with, those in British Columbian Colleges and Universities under the aegis of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators and especially the Collective Agreement between VCC and the VCC Faculty Association.  Most of its advocacy is targeted to the needs of the adjunct majority of faculty in the USA .

The authors encourage questions and comments.  Past contributions have been used in the following  update and FAQs.  The authors also encourage the adoption of the Program as a workplan by those working in groups, both formal and informal, who are trying to end inequity.

Jack Longmate
jacklongmate@comcast.net
Frank Cosco
fcosco@vccfa.ca

A Program for Change: Real Transformation over Two Decades

Introduction

1.A The dysfunctional state of faculty employment in post-secondary education in 2010 is well documented and well known. Over the last few decades, corporatization has fragmented faculty. It has resulted in a caste-like structure with primarily two tiers. The majority of the faculty occupies the lower tier and is recognized as performing only a portion of the job, classroom instruction; these faculty tend to be compensated at a rate of pay in violation of the principle of “equal pay for equal work,” often resulting in a poverty-level income. They work in complete insecurity. They are left to draw upon the satisfaction of working with students as their chief inspiration to continue because of their dismal working conditions and the equally dismal prospects for improvement.

Program for Change

Programa para el cambio (Spanish translation)

Appendix B Commonly Raised Comments and Questions about the Program for Change