OCUFA submits recommendations to address precarious work, bring fairness to universities

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The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has made a written submission to the provincial government’s Changing Workplaces Review. It calls for government leadership to address the rise of precarious work at Ontario’s universities. OCUFA estimates that the number of contract faculty has nearly doubled since 2000.

“Faculty see how this shift toward insecure, low-paid jobs is leaving some academic workers with an unfair burden, and impacting the quality of research and student learning on our campuses,” said OCUFA President Judy Bates. “We understand the urgency and timeliness of this review and that’s why we have been participating in the consultations all summer.”

As more and more faculty are working on a limited-term contract or per-course basis, new priorities and needs have arisen. Contract faculty are seeking more fairness in terms of equal treatment, job security and stability, and reasonable scheduling. These new challenges have also brought into focus the need for updated rules that allow unions to evolve with their workplaces, and that support workers in joining a union and working together to improve their conditions

OCUFA’s recommendations include updating employment standards to ensure that part-time and contract workers receive equal pay for work of equal value and equal access to benefits. The submission also counsels that employment under a number of multiple fixed-term contracts be considered continuous, and that employers be required to provide fair scheduling. OCUFA argues that the labour relations board should be empowered to change the scope of existing bargaining units, while labour law should be modernized to provide card-based union certification, reinstatement of employees during organizing drives, and better access to first contract arbitration.

At a time when many people are facing an erosion of their working conditions, better employment and labour law will lift the floor for all workers and support collective bargaining. “If these changes are made, the benefits will be felt widely – not only by faculty, students and workers at Ontario’s universities, but also in our local economies and communities,” said Bates.

You can read the full submission on OCUFA’s website. The submission complements thirteen presentations made by faculty at public consultations across the province in the last several months.

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