Faculty speaking up across the province about need for better employment and labour law

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Faculty members have delivered powerful presentations at government consultations this summer about the need for better laws to protect contract workers from unfair treatment and support effective representation for academic workers. University professors and academic librarians from Queen’s University, University of Ottawa, OCADU, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Windsor, and Western University have made presentations to the consultation panels.

Across Ontario, 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.

Below are some highlights from the faculty presentations:

“Despite working the equivalent of full-time hours, I still did not qualify for any benefits, nor any professional development funding. And because I was commuting from place to place, this also left very little time for my own research, another critical factor to obtaining permanent employment… I found it extremely difficult to plan for the future because I never knew with certainty if my contract would be renewed.” – Camille Isaacs, OCADFA

“My association has two bargaining units, one with just under 1600 faculty and the other with 48 librarians and archivists. I am one of those 48. We are clearly a much smaller bargaining unit, and we are a female-dominated group of employees, and we are much more vulnerable workers than our faculty colleagues on campus. If we could rationalize our units, we could make bargaining much more effective and efficient.”  – Kristin Hoffman, UWOFA

“Compared to the years when my mother was a professor, it is a much more stressful job. As just one illustration of the effects that this has on my members, during the last round of bargaining, the employer reported that they spent $400,000 on anti-depressants; it was the number one category of drug purchased under our health care plan.” – Susan Spronk, APUO
“Contract faculty like me will never be ‘terminated’ by their employers. Instead, I will simply be kept in a never-ending holding pattern of waiting for what work may come in the next term. What we are asking for is fair treatment as contract employees. And this means an end to the extended use of a series of discontinuous contracts… [and] fair treatment when it comes to notices of work, termination of work and access to severance compensation.” – Michele Kramer, WLUFA

 “I am deeply passionate about postsecondary education, I consider teaching a privilege and a tremendous opportunity. We must begin to recognize and support contract faculty as professionals who make important contributions. We are looking to the government for leadership to ensure that the law responds to the restructuring of academic labour.” – Fran Cachon, WUFA

Upcoming consultations are still to be held in St. Catharines, Sudbury, Kingston, Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Toronto. Please contact OCUFA if your faculty association would like to make a presentation.

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