Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC

FPSE statement on the passing of former CIEA President, Ed Lavalle

Aug 25, 2020 FPSE News

This month, our federation received some sad news. Ed Lavalle, former president of our organization (see footnote), passed away on Friday August 7. Ed is survived by his partner Susan and daughter Michelle.

Former FPSE President George Davison wrote about Ed’s long history as a labour activist and political educator in the piece below.

In Memoriam: Ed Lavalle

Ed’s career as a post-secondary educator and union activist spanned 44 years, from his hiring as a Political Studies instructor at Capilano College in September 1973 to his retirement from Capilano University at the end of April 2017. Ed’s achievements were many, primarily at the local and provincial level, but they also set the stage for our provincial federation to take a prominent place amongst our union and post-secondary allies provincially and nationally. 

Ed was involved in just about every round of bargaining at his local since he started – 15 rounds by my count. He was a moving force in the 1970s within the College Faculties Federation[1], a provincial organization of newly-organized faculty unions that had eight locals, 709 members, a volunteer executive and a budget of $11,000. At Capilano, he set up the Labour Studies Programme, a college-based worker education program developed in cooperation with trade unions. Through this program, Ed led workshops on how arbitrations and strikes could be used to defend collective agreements. In the late 70s, Ed was the driving force to create a provincial union, the College-Institute Educators’ Association, which was established in May 1980.

Ed used to say that bargaining was everything, whether it was with your colleagues, the employer, union allies, or the government. Bargaining was also a continuum: one needs goals to attain and the patience to work towards those goals over time. Ed helped mould CIEA into an effective provincial federation in the 1980s and ‘90s. A provincial defence fund was established in 1986 to support striking locals, and CIEA set up new standing committees for women and non-regulars, our contract academic staff, who had just been organized into what had been full-time faculty unions. Ed was elected Vice-President in 1987, was re-elected in 1988, and became President in 1989. He served as president for 7 terms, from 1989-92, and again from 1995-99.

In the 1990s, Ed oversaw the process to get legislative changes to the Colleges and Institutes Act that resulted in the establishment of Education Councils and constituency (faculty, support staff and students) representatives on institutional Boards of Governors. He was one of the key stakeholders who worked with representatives of institutional presidents, ministry officials, students and the B.C. Government & Service Employees’ Union: in September 1996 they produced Charting A New Course: A Strategic Plan for the Future of British Columbia’s College, Institute and Agency System that involved setting up a number of system agencies to support post-secondary education. These were designed to make post-secondary education better for students, for faculty and staff, for institutions, for the government, and for British Columbians.

Ed’s goal of coordinated bargaining was finally achieved in 1998, when the entire post-secondary system outside the research universities and BCIT came together to bargain.  After almost three months of bargaining in the spring, a summer hiatus and strike vote in September, the provincial negotiating committee achieved a tentative agreement hours before a province-wide strike was set for late October. The agreement included clauses on harassment, one-quarter release for union-employer relations, prior learning assessment, copyright and intellectual property, regularization, leaves, benefits and a joint committee on benefits administration, pensions (the first joint-trusteed pension plan amongst public sector plans in BC), early retirement incentives, a provincial salary scale and secondary scale adjustment, and a clause protecting superior benefits in a local agreement.

Ed became Provincial Secretary to the BC NDP from 1999 to 2003. He returned to Capilano College after that, and continued to teach labour studies and political studies. He developed an exchange program with the European Parliament that saw Canadian students travel to the Hague, and European students come to Canada.

Former BC Minister of Education, Skills and Training (and former CIEA president) Paul Ramsay said “"Ed was a force and (for me) a mentor. He did so much to strengthen education, unionism, and government in B.C. Few have done as much. I will deeply miss his intelligence and wit."

In short, Ed was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the collective agreements we all enjoy today, and for building the federation into what it is today: an organization with two full-time officers and 12 staff, 20 locals, 10,000 members, affiliated to the BC Federation of Labour, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Labour Congress through the National Union of CAUT.

As one of Ed’s colleagues wrote to me, “it would take a book to document the full history of his contribution. At the level of Cap College/University…[he demonstrated] patience, acumen, knowledge, strategic vision and determination to serve the best interests of the faculty [and] inspired in all of us a cheerful courage to achieve success…[He] always kept his own ego in check, suffered the occasional slings and arrows flung his way with equanimity and without rancour, and soldiered on…[He was] An exemplary comrade-in-arms, a wise and dedicated and selfless leader.”

He will be missed.

 

[1] The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC has been re-named multiple times over 50 years, motivated both by changes to post-secondary institutions, as well as the membership of the organization. In 1970, the organization consisted entirely of college faculty associations, thus was created under the name College Faculties Federation (CFF). The CFF was re-constituted as the College and Institute Educators’ Association (CIEA) in 1980, largely in response to the SoCreds introduction of Bill 82, the Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act. Finally, CIEA became the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC in 2004 when the BC Liberals changed the University-College of the Cariboo into Thompson Rivers University.

Investing in Public Post-Secondary The Foundation for BC’s COVID-19 Recovery

Jun 25, 2020 FPSE News

INVESTING IN PUBLIC POST-SECONDARY: THE FOUNDATION FOR BC'S COVID-19 RECOVERY
A submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE POST-SECONDARY SECTOR
When COVID-19 threatened our society, we united in following public health directives out of deep concern and compassion for our fellow citizens. The public has proven that there is broad and deep support for actions, and spending, to take care of each other. We must maintain this commitment to public spending to support people through the crisis.

The only consensus that exists regarding the province’s economic future is that much is unknown, but given the national and international negative impact, it is expected there will be a recession or depression, and that the recovery will be led by the public sector. While hardly a positive economic outlook, it is helpful to recognize this reality as a starting point in building the budget to bring clarity to the goals of the provincial budget: will it accept additional hardship for those at the bottom, or will it actively seek to reduce inequality by directing public funding towards those measures proved to long-term societal, economic, and individual benefit? 

Given that a downturn is expected, spending and services should be aligned to meet the anticipated needs of citizens. History shows that during an economic downturn, people will enter or return to some level of post-secondary education. This is why it will be so important to maintain the capacity of the post-secondary system. A cut by austerity or unchanged public spending is still a cut – with large reliance on private funds expected to evaporate, public spending will be needed to make up the shortfall.

ACCESS FOR STUDENTS
Past funding programs like Institutional Based Training and Capacity Expansion along with their low tuition levels serve as positive examples of increased funding directly correlating with increased access for students. The successes of these initiatives stem from principles that should be used to guide funding for post-secondary institutions in their COVID-19 response:

Continuity | At a minimum, the current program profiles of post-secondary offerings need to be maintained while also supporting new needs. Institutions that are not able to balance their 2020-21 budgets should, with proper planning, rationales, and approvals be allowed to proceed without cuts to balance their budgets. If cuts are deemed necessary, they should be made as far away from the key service area of post-secondary – education and direct education support – as possible.

Accessibility | Adequate faculty and staff levels need to be present across the province – geographic access to quality post-secondary training across the province is just as important now as it was when the college system was created. Emergency remote learning delivery during COVID-19 is justified, but it is by definition tied to our emergency circumstances. When face to face learning can safely resume, students will need access to institutions close to home with educators in their classrooms, and the ability to interact with their classmates. This will not be possible if rural institutions’ educator workforce is devastated by cuts motivated by fewer students.

Accountability | Accountability is best ensured through directed funding ‘envelopes’ with specific requirements, such as maintaining as many educators in the workforce as possible.

Affordability | Widespread loss of individual and family income adds financial barriers to those who most need access to education and skills training. Support BCFS calls for financial assistance for students.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendations for BC Budget 2021

1) That the provincial government join FPSE and employers in establishing a formal tri-partite mechanism to ensure that continual consultation and inclusion are the hallmarks of BC’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis and continue post-crisis.

2) That public investment to public post-secondary institutions be increased to offset reduced revenue from international students and fund the post-secondary educational access BC needs. Current geographic accessibility and course offerings must be maintained or increased. It is important that BC’s post-secondary education system not be degraded by any reduction in international student tuition revenue. FPSE supports calling on the federal government to provide this funding through increased social transfers to BC as part of Canada’s economic recovery plan. Further options to maintain the post-secondary system:

  1. Allow institutions to run deficits
  2. Allow institutions to access surplus accounts to ensure continued funding of services, courses, and therefore faculty and staff employment.
  3. Pause, post-pone or cancel some capital projects so funds can be moved or kept within operational account
  4. Allow access to institutional surpluses to maintain educator workforce
  5. Wage and hiring freeze on administrators at all institution, and for those laying off faculty or staff that administrative cuts be at least proportionate (to the educator: administrator ratio).
  6. During COVID-19 pandemic, instruct institutions to demonstrate preferential consideration for educators laid off or not re-hired by institutions within the BC post-secondary system (using Article 2 of the Common Agreement pertaining to the laid off worker registry).
  7. Businesses and employers have a role in supporting a strong public post-secondary system as part of BC’s economic recovery. Businesses who need their employees to learn new skills should be encouraged to enter into Contract Training with a public post-secondary institution .

3) That the provincial government call on the federal government to:

  1. Endorse the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) call to allow public institutions to access the wage replacement subsidy to;
  2. prioritize funding and support for private post-secondary institutions with unionized instructors, as this is the most efficient metric by which to measure fair and equitable treatment of instructors and students; AND
  3. establish a federal tri-partite committee to determine sector-wide practices regarding international education with compliance with collective agreements mandated at the outset.

CONCLUSION

The impacts of COVID-19 have been profound and felt across society – although those who were already vulnerable disproportionately suffered the negative economic and social consequences of the pandemic. The economic disruption has decreased government revenue at the same time as there has been increased demand for public services. It is in this context that the 2021 BC Budget is being prepared.

Rather than asking if an economic downturn is inevitable and trying to avoid it through cuts and austerity, FPSE is calling for bold, significant investment in the people of BC and the services they need to weather whatever lies ahead. We need to lay the foundation for a strong economic recovery that will last for generations.

Investment in post-secondary education must be part of this foundation, just as it must be part of the economic recovery. During an economic downturn, the need for post-secondary increases as people look for work or need to upgrade their training. When the education they need is affordable and accessible, the individual, the post-secondary system, and society all benefit from a population that grows healthier, more financially secure, and more democratically engaged, as it becomes more educated.

Investing in post-secondary education gives more people the opportunity to succeed. This is exactly the investment we need at this moment. This is how we can build an economic recovery for working people.

If you would like to read the full submission in it's entirety, please click on the link below:

Attachments FPSE-BC-Budget-20200625.pdf

Media Release: Post-Secondary Educators’ Union Partners with Indigenous Radio Station, Academics, Authors, to Bring Message of Decolonization to More Audiences

Jun 15, 2020 FPSE News

This National Indigenous History Month, a BC post-secondary union has partnered with Indigenous radio station Nuxalk Radio to promote Indigenous voices.

As an overdue conversation about systemic racism is taking place in Canada, more Canadians are asking how they can help. For those wondering how to get started, there are now new ways to learn from Indigenous scholars from across the country with the release of an audio version of Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization.

“This handbook is essential reading for settlers in so-called Canada,” says Nuxalk Radio Station Manager Banchi Hanuse. “It is a powerful and beautiful affirmation of what the original caretakers of these lands have always known. Now in audiobook form, this collection of voices serves as a reminder that the more we understand Indigenous Nationhood and Indigenous Peoples’ inherent rights to the land, the healthier we and the earth can become in our shared existence.”

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization provides a variety of Indigenous perspectives on the history of colonialism, current Indigenous activism and resistance, and outlines the path forward to reconciliation. Originally released as a free e-book, the audio version features renowned Indigenous writers Taiaiake Alfred, Glen Coulthard, Russell Diabo, Beverly Jacobs, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Kanahus Manuel, Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour, Pamela Palmater, Shiri Pasternak, Nicole Schabus, Senator Murray Sinclair, and Sharon Venne. The late Arthur Manuel’s writings are read by his grandson, Mahekan Anderson.

“There is a long history of racism and violence against Indigenous people in this province or country,” said FPSE President Terri Van Steinburg. “But most Canadians continue to think of this as something that has happened in the past, despite the ongoing discrimination towards Indigenous people by the state, corporations, and members of the general public. You only need to think back to January of this year when Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter were arrested for trying to open a bank account to know that racism against Indigenous people exists and continues to this day. Words cannot demonstrate the commitment of Canadians to end systemic racism, only actions can. I hope that people will use the book or audio resource as a beginning for their anti-racism journey.”

You can hear authors read their contributions in Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization on Nuxalk Radio (NuxalkRadio.com & 91.1 FM Bella Coola) on Sunday June 21st. Beginning June 22nd, they will also be available through the FPSE website (fpse.ca/decolonization-manual) and through Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Media Contacts

 

Nuxalk Radio

Banchi Hanuse | sltslani@nuxalkradio.com

 

FPSE

Nicole Seguin | nseguin@fpse.ca

FPSE Statement: From Sorrow to Solidarity

Jun 3, 2020 FPSE News

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is horrified by the ongoing appalling violence against the Black community in the United States. The images are difficult to take in, but they clearly show what millions of people experience everyday: the fear of, or direct experience, of violent racism, discrimination and abuse. FPSE joins in sorrow with those who are grieving, but we understand that this is not enough -we must demonstrate our solidarity on an ongoing basis.

Canada is not immune from the racism we see in the United States. It is important to recognize that the foundations of our country and province were built on white supremacy. This was not limited to the Black community – Indigenous Peoples, and other racialized persons have also been systemically persecuted, oppressed, and killed by the state. We must also recognize that the racism of our institutions and society is not the past, but the present, as shown by the list of people killed by police in Canada compiled by journalist Desmond Cole.

This is a difficult truth, but is necessary for us to know and understand in order to truly hear and support the people we must be listening to in order for things to change. The community members who have been experiencing this violence have been working to end racism since it began. We need to listen to these leaders and unite in solidarity to support the changes they have identified.

One of the main principles of solidarity is that “an injury to one is an injury to all”. Our coworkers, friends and neighbours are being injured, and they are dying. It is incumbent on all of us to do more to listen, learn and act to bring an end to the violence.