Professors calling for fairness for contract faculty at universities across Ontario this week
TORONTO – University professors are calling for fairness for contract faculty across Ontario this week. Public events and outreach activities will aim to educate students and community members about working conditions for the growing number of professors working on contract who face job insecurity, unpredictable scheduling, unfair wages, and lack access to benefits.
“We’re going to be out talking to people about fairness for these talented scholars because every professor deserves respect regardless of whether they are working on contract,” says Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) President Judy Bates. “We need to make sure the next generation of academics are supported – that opportunities are available for them to do important research and teaching, and contribute to their communities.”
With the provincial government’s Changing Workplaces Review underway, the question of how to address the rise of precarious work is top-of-mind for many Ontarians. Positive changes to Ontario’s outdated employment and labour law could ensure equal pay for work of equal value and equal access to benefits for all part-time and contract workers, as well as require that all workers receive reasonable notice of their schedules. This would go a long way to support contract faculty at Ontario universities.
OCUFA estimates that the number of courses taught by contract faculty in Ontario has doubled since 2000. But a recent poll showed that Ontarians believe universities should be moving in the other direction, with 94 per cent saying that universities should be model employers and support good jobs in their communities.
Some good news for those advocating for fairness for contract faculty arrived in September when Statistics Canada announced it would take steps towards collecting data on contract faculty at universities and colleges. This positive step comes at a time of increased interest in addressing insecure, unfair working conditions at universities and in the broader economy. OCUFA is one of over 50 community and labour organizations that are advocating for decent work for all as part of the Fight for $15 & Fairness.
“As a contract professor, collaborating with workers from different sectors has been very rewarding. We see that contract and part-time workers are facing similar challenges right across this province,” says Fran Cachon, a contract faculty member at the University of Windsor, and chair of OCUFA’s Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee. “On campus, we’ve also gotten a lot of support from students who understand all too well the realities of insecure work and mounting student debt. Students are shocked to learn that many of their professors don’t know if they have a job from semester to semester.”
Dr. Cachon and her students understand that the working conditions of professors are the learning conditions for students. “I am passionate about postsecondary education and I love my job,” says Cachon. “We’ve got to get this one right. Investing in fairness for contract faculty is an investment in high-quality university education.”
This week is Fair Employment Week hosted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. Supporters of fairness for contract faculty can sign a pledge that was launched by OCUFA’s We Teach Ontario campaign. Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.