On Wednesday, June 16th, OCUFA President Kate Lawson presented to a Ministry of Labour panel consulting on possible reforms to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. The government is consulting on how to bring labour laws in line with the changing world of work that puts an increasing number of workers in precarious employment situations.
Following the Tuesday presentation, faculty representatives again presented to the panel at the consultations in Ottawa. Ontario’s professors are concerned about the rise of precarious academic work in the form of the increased use of contract faculty employment. The number of courses taught by contract faculty members has increased by 97 per cent since 2002, according to OCUFA estimates. This mirrors the general rise in precarious work in Ontario over the past few decades.
At the consultations, professors and academic librarians are recommending that Ontario’s labour laws ensure that part-time, contract workers do not face less favorable treatment than their full-time colleagues. It is also important to prevent employers from using short-term contracts to avoid payment of severance or avoid pension contributions. Bargaining unit structures should also be allowed to evolve as workplaces change. Faculty with a “community of interest” should be allowed to voluntarily merge their bargaining units.
Many more consultations are scheduled for the summer. Faculty representatives are presenting today in Mississauga, and tomorrow in Guelph. Dates are also planned in Windsor, London, Sudbury, Hamilton, and Thunder Bay. OCUFA is working with its member associations to ensure that the faculty perspective is represented at each session.