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August 24, 2012

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CUPE launches court action to save college programs

TERRACE – CUPE Local 2409 has filed an action in BC Supreme Court to settle vital programming issues with Northwest Community College. CUPE says NWCC decisions to cancel some courses and eliminate others will hurt students.

The CUPE local, commonly called the Academic Workers Union, represents CUPE members and members of the Federation of Post Secondary Educators at the college’s campuses from Haida Gwaii to Smithers. They are concerned that program changes haven’t been decided by the college’s board of governors – which would include input from the unions and student reps through the College’s Education Council.

The court action contends that the NWCC has repeatedly violated Section 23 of the Colleges and Institutes Act by not collaborating with the Education Council through the board of governors.  The action claims college management has continually changed programs while ignoring those Section 23 requirements.

The union has been trying to fix the situation since January.  The court action was necessary because the problem is an alleged violation of legislation not of a collective agreement, so the issue can’t be settled in the usual way with a union/management grievance procedure.

“We have tried every way we know to get this cleared up," says CUPE National Servicing Representative Kevin Rose. “Until very recently we were copying NWCC President Denise Henning on all our attempts, hoping that she would get involved and expedite things, but that hasn’t happened.”

Rose says the issue is a pressing one for NWCC students. “This is about the quality of education that the college is offering to students. It’s all about university credits and when needed courses are cut, that impacts students’ ability to advance through post secondary while living in this region. In some cases, it could now take as long as four years to complete a two-year associate degree program.”

The college has 10 days to respond to the court application.

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