While planning for the 2017-18 academic year, the Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee spent some time looking back on its creative, eventful, and effective first three years. Since its creation, the committee has worked hard on education and solidarity-building strategies to address the issues facing both contract and tenured faculty.
Over the past 15 years, it is estimated that the number of contract faculty in Ontario has doubled while universities fail to hire new tenured faculty to fill vacancies created by retiring professors. Contract faculty positions are insecure, paid by the course, and sometimes without benefits. Tenured faculty face significant workload challenges as they balance teaching, research, and their responsibilities in university departments and committees.
Working together is the only way to solve these critical issues facing Ontario universities. In the last three years, OCUFA’s Contract Faculty and Complement Committee has launched a website, www.weteachontario.ca, that allows contract faculty to tell their personal stories and where the public can sign a pledge in support of good jobs for all faculty. Members also actively tabled as part of Fair Employment Week, and OCUFA hosted an international conference on precarious academic work.
This engagement, and a growing understanding of the need for better, more stable jobs, has led to more media stories examining the challenges facing Ontario’s faculty and helped build awareness and support for the struggles faced by contract professors.
Working with allies in higher education and the labour movement, OCUFA has been putting pressure on the Liberal government to improve Ontario’s labour law to strengthen the rights of workers and support good jobs.
OCUFA’s Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee has much to be proud of, but with a growing sense of momentum, there is much more that can be done!
Faculty associations building solidarity
This spring saw two faculty associations hold events to build solidarity amongst their members. These events, hosted by the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association and the Windsor University Faculty Association, featured comedy, music, and opportunities for faculty to get to know each other.
Both events were supported by OCUFA and the Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee with the goal of bringing together tenured and contract faculty to build solidarity in advance of bargaining. To read more about these events, click here and here.
Two short videos with highlights of the events can also be viewed below:
Looking forward to the 2017-18 academic year
This fall, Fair Employment Week will return the week of October 23, 2017. With a fresh look and new initiatives, the week will be bigger and even more exciting. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is revamping the campaign with new graphics, a new website, and more interactive tools to help get the message out about the importance of fairness for contract faculty.
As preparation for Fair Employment Week, CAUT will be hosting a national conference on October 20-21 in Toronto to bring together representatives of contract faculty unions to identify issues, challenges, and success stories. It will also provide practical skills building workshops to help organizing on local campuses.
For more information and input on the revamp of Fair Employment Week or the CAUT national conference on contract academic staff, contact Marcel Roy at CAUT.