Sep 04 2018

National Survey of Contract Academic Staff

Category: Contract Faculty,News,ResearchBob Hanke @ 10:59 am

CAUT releases results of first national survey of contract academic staff

(Ottawa – September 4, 2018) Most academic staff working on contract at Canadian universities and colleges aren’t employed that way by choice indicates new survey results gathered and released today by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

According to the survey:

  • Over half (53%) of respondents want a tenure-track university or full-time, permanent college job. This is the case even for contract academic staff (CAS) who have been teaching for 16-20 years.
  • Only 25% said they do not want a tenure-track or permanent, full-time academic appointment. The remainder are unsure.
  • Women and racialized CAS work more hours per course, per week than their colleagues and are more likely to be in low-income households.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said their mental health has been negatively impacted by the contingent nature of their employment, and just 19% think the institutions where they work are model employers and supporters of good jobs.

“Until now, we had no clear picture of the working conditions of CAS across the country,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “These results reveal that many CAS are underpaid, overworked and sorely under-resourced. It’s a dismal picture for the majority of these academics, who often feel trapped in a ‘gig lifestyle’ of part-time or insecure work.”

To read the rest of this news release and access the survey results, click here.

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Nov 07 2015

The Cost of Casualized Labour

Category: Academic Freedom,Contract Faculty,NewsBob Hanke @ 11:39 pm

Casualization of Academic Labour has its Costs

(excerpted from the CAUT Bulletin, October 2015)

In the ongoing massification of post-secondary education, university and college administrators are increasingly turning to temporary or contract academic staff to teach and work in their institutions’ lecture halls, labs and libraries.

“More than 30 per cent of academic staff in Canadian post-secondary institutions are faced with short-term, insecure employment and struggle to find decent work,” notes Sylvain Schetagne, CAUT’s director of research and political action.

Living with uncertainty about when and what you might teach next creates financial, intellectual and emotional strain. Most contract academic staff live on four-month contracts and worry about finding a job for the next semester.

“The inability to plan is a major issue and a great cause of stress in the lives of contract academics,” said James Gerlach, who has taught on contract at Wilfrid Laurier University since 2006 and also serves as chair of CAUT’s contract academic staff committee. “You can teach six courses one year and two courses the next year. You can live on six courses, but not two.”

According to a 2015 United Way report, precarious workers face significant barriers to building stable and secure lives. Precarious workers face greater challenges finding childcare and addressing health and safety concerns in the workplace. They face more gender and racial discrimination and spend less time with their families and in their communities.

Unpaid work is also a widespread reality of the insecure academic job landscape. Office hours, advisement and recommendation letters, for example, are rarely spelled out in contracts, but these tasks can be part of job expectations, says Gerlach.

“Contract academic staff are paid for a fraction of the work they need to do,” he said.

To read the complete story, click here.

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Sep 19 2012

The Combustible University

Category: News,Online Publication,StudentsBob Hanke @ 6:57 pm

The Combustible Campus: From Montreal to Mexico City, Something is Stirring in the University

By Enda Brophy

(excerpted from Briarpatch Magazine, Sept 1, 2012)

For three decades now, the neoliberal restructuring of post-secondary education has sought to implant market logic and corporate-style management into the academy. The systematic defunding of public education that enables this process has only intensified in recent years with the global financial crisis and the austerity measures imposed in its wake. The resulting transformation of public university systems has brought us corporatized administrations, rising tuition, departmental closures, expanded class sizes, noxious corporate food, offensives against academic workers, and ethically dubious corporate donations.

In its current form, one could argue that the academy produces little that extends our collective social capacities and much that diminishes them: hierarchy, exploitation, debt, individualism, precarious employment, and cynicism. At a time when knowledge is increasingly seen as a commodity to be produced in accordance with the demands of profit, and public education is decried as an unjust fetter on the ruthless pedagogy of the free market, the private sector has turned its attention to the university and is fervently dedicated to its transformation. The state has mostly obliged, with centre-right and centre-left governments across the world taking turns at accelerating this epochal shift in post-secondary education.

And yet, something is stirring in the university. From London to Montreal, from Santiago to Auckland, from Wisconsin to Mexico City, struggles against the commodification of knowledge are proliferating. The neoliberalization of the university has produced its own antagonists, and it is from the ranks of those who stand to lose the most from this transformation – students and academic workers – that the greatest conflicts have emanated.

To read the rest of this article, click here.


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Feb 25 2011

Unit 2 Election Week

Category: Elections (2011),NewsBob Hanke @ 10:43 pm

From the Unit 2 Working Group:

What an astonishing time for Unit 2.

This moment’s calm before the election storm is almost too much for some in the Unit 2 Working Group to bear.

Everything the U2WG has been struggling for will be conclusively decided in
the coming week.  One way or another.  There’s nothing more we can do.

Nor will this singular opportunity for our Unit 2 membership likely come again.

The Contract Faculty vote on U2WG recommendations to restructure Local 3903 for more Unit 2 autonomy is tentatively scheduled to be counted on March 3rd. It will either tally favourably ­– or it will not.

Then, over this coming week, the Unit 2 membership will either turn out to vote in 3903 Executive Committee candidates who will fight for Unit 2 autonomy and recognition ­– or it will not.

In both cases, we will either elect to take a stand against silenced oppression and exploitation – or we shall not stand at all.

It’s entirely up to the Unit 2 membership, now.  Precisely, democratically, as it should be.

Having already voted on the Unit 2 Proposal, let’s finish what we started.

And let’s say it once more, if only for good measure: vote in the Unit 2 candidates who stand for and who have been actively and tirelessly working for greater Unit 2 autonomy and representation in Local 3903.

These candidates are: Mary Anne Coffey (for Grievance Officer), Sharon Davidson (for U2 VP), and Peter Fruchter (for U2 Chief Steward). This is the Unit 2 Working Group slate.

Don’t neglect to vote for these 3903 Executive Committee candidates.  And when you do vote, please keep the following in mind.

While members of the U2WG are guardedly optimistic the Unit 2 Proposal vote will tally favourably, the implementation of the Unit 2 Proposal will hinge essentially on the make-up of the 3903 executive.  And the above 3 candidates are the ones that the U2WG has entrusted to represent the democratic will of our Unit 2 membership on the 3903 executive.

Sharon Davidson has been determinedly and assiduously working during administration to protect and advance Unit 2 members’ interests through representation on the Labour Management Committee and the Better Workplace Initiative. Since Gary Leroux has withdrawn his candidacy, Sharon has been acclaimed as Unit 2 Vice-President.

Peter Fruchter has been active in the U2WG from its founding and has diligently ensured (and insisted!), through the creation of U2News, that Contract Faculty remain informed on critical issues pertaining to Unit 2.  And let us not forget, Mary Anne Coffey’s vast, vast experience, her loyalty to our Local, and how staunchly and tirelessly she has always represented us, even in difficult times.

We wish both candidates the best of luck and express our strongest hopes that the 3903 membership will support them by coming out and voting each candidate into executive office.

Voting in the elections for the Executive Committee will take place in the coming week at both Keele and Glendon campuses, from 11 am to 3 pm, February 28 to March 4. Voting at Glendon Campus will take place outside the Glendon cafeteria, while voting at Keele Campus will take place in the CUPE 3903 boardroom in the CUPE office, 104 East Office Building.



Feb 14 2011

Vote for a New Unit 2

Category: Meetings,NewsBob Hanke @ 8:27 pm

From the U2 Working Group:

We have reached a pivotal moment when our choices will determine the future of Unit 2 for years to come.

Action Items: Vote now on the Unit 2 Working Group recommendation.  And this Thursday come out to the bylaws meeting. Individually and collectively, let’s stand together–in real solidarity–for a more democratic Unit 2 and a better organized and effective CUPE 3903.


If you have not received your ballot already, contact the Unit 2 Working Group ( as soon as possible. Keep in mind that your return envelope must be post-marked no later than February 18th. It is important that we hear from as many Contract Faculty as possible regarding this significant decision!


There is, as well, another critical event this week: the meeting to vote on the remaining articles for CUPE 3903’s new bylaws. This meeting will take place on Thursday, February 17th, in the Chemistry building, Room 115, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

As the Unit 2 Working Group is proposing a number of bylaw amendments to increase autonomy for Contract Faculty within the local, it is crucial for as many U2 members as possible attend this meeting to vote. At the last meeting (Feb. 3rd), one critical amendment advanced by the Unit 2Working Group–to allow only unit members to vote for unit-specific executive positions–was won in Unit 2s favour by a vote of 29 to 28! This means that the Unit 2 VP and Unit 2 CS positions will henceforth be voted on and elected only by Contract Faculty. At the next meeting, important items, such as ensuring that the Grievance Officer position remains a Unit 2-designated position, will be on the agenda. Hence, having a high voter turnout from Unit 2 will be decisive to the outcome.

Your attendance and votes at this meeting can make a difference!


The next few months will be significant for Contract Faculty not only with respect to enhancing our participation and input within CUPE 3903, but also for moving forward into collective bargaining and improving the conditions of our employment. There are important discussions going on within the university administration with respect to developing teaching-only positions. Since Unit 2 is currently the ‘teaching-only’ stream of academic employment at York, we must have a say in these discussions. And we will have a say. These positions should be located within CUPE 3903; they must be geared to improving Contract Faculty’s employment stability across all ranges of seniority and teaching intensities. At the same time, we need to restore and improve upon the successful CUPE-YUFA ratified Affirmative Action Conversion Program.

We have and will continue to play an important role in these discussions. However, unlike the last round of bargaining, this time we need to do our homework first, with research on what can realistically be demanded and what our best strategies should be in pursuing greater job security. We need to begin a broad collective discussion and careful, reasoned evaluation of what is in the best interest of Unit 2 as a whole. We need to move forward and build on the lessons learned from the strike two years ago–that Contract Faculty are major component of the instructional workforce at York. Given the university’s two-tier system of employment, uneven financial flows and looming retirements in, we may become the majority of academic faculty. In these changing circumstances, we need to be able to determine autonomously which path to the future we want to take.

So please be sure to vote on the Unit 2 Working Group’s recommendation and please attend the bylaws meeting on February 17th. And a huge thank you to those members who did come out to the last bylaws meeting to help make a difference!


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