By Bette Marafino, 4Cs Past President
In the early 1970s, there was a Faculty Senate of the Community College system. The Senate would discuss and vote on academic proposals, such as whether each college should be held to the same standards for promotion. Despite hours of debate to pass some proposals in the Senate, they went largely ignored by the administration.
The Faculty Senate decided to dissolve to form the 4Cs union – a body that would not be ignored by the administration. They petitioned the Labor Board and the early activists visited campuses to rally support. In most instances, it was not difficult to gain support from the members. At that time, many members came from union backgrounds and recognized the strength that unions created for workers.
It took nineteen months to negotiate and write our first 4Cs Contract. Some of the major wins from the first contract included the 12 semester hour teaching load; a clear process for applying for promotion, tenure, and sabbaticals; and salary increases.
Through the years, it has been clear to me how much benefit the union has brought to our campuses and our members from using the strength of our collective voices to simply requiring the administration to follow process. For instance, in the early years of the union, I worked at Tunxis CC and not one person had tenure yet because the college had only been open for a few years. Even though no one was tenured, our faculty association and professional staff wrote a 60-page white paper expressing “no confidence” in the Tunxis President and Academic Dean.
As a result of our action, the Board of Trustees denied a salary increase to both. Within six months, the President had resigned and the Dean followed about six months later. As for the two faculty/ staff associations, the Board of Trustees dissolved each group. However, we all figured that we were stronger together and formed a Professional Staff Organization, which still exists on campus. The union impact was immediately noticeable- it was okay to stick our necks out because we had the union behind us. For the past forty-five years, the 4Cs union truly has been Stronger Together.