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.

Tags: , , , ,


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.

 

Tags: , ,


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.

PLEASE VOTE!

Tags:


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.

UNIT 2 VOTE ON RESTRUCTURING THE LOCAL

If you have not received your ballot already, contact the Unit 2 Working Group (u2.working.group@gmail.com) 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!

NEW BYLAWS – IMPORTANT – PLEASE ATTEND!

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!

WHY WE NEED THESE CHANGES

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!

Tags:


Feb 08 2011

Unit Two News and Three Action Items

Category: NewsBob Hanke @ 11:01 pm

From the Unit Two Working Group:

The present moment is critical for Local 3903 and, more-so, for Unit 2.  The terminus of Administration is fast approaching.  Structural choices to be made during the next several weeks will define future conditions of Unit 2 within Local 3903.

Good news, though! The Unit 2 Proposal is in the mail.  This represents a singular opportunity for the Unit 2 membership to have a democratic voice concerning our issues and our future. So vote, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!

We apologize for the length of this edition of U2News. But a number of important issues are occurring, which we feel need to be reported on in order to keep Contract Faculty informed of events as we shift into the final stages of administration.

We will try to keep future editions of U2News brief. However, in this edition, you will find:

*information regarding the Unit 2 vote
*as promised, report-backs on the forensic audit and bylaw GMMs
*details on Local executive elections and changes in voting procedures

UNIT 2 VOTE

The Unit 2 Working Group is pleased to announce that ballots are now in the mail for a vote on the U2WG’s recommendation!

Subsequent to her original commitment, and as a result of the pressure exerted through emails from contract faculty members, 3903 Administrator Lynn McDougall has agreed to hold a ‘vote in principle’  to determine if the membership of Unit 2 is in support of the creation of a Unit 2 Executive Board within CUPE 3903.

Your ballots should arrive by mail this week. Please note that your return ballot must be post-marked no later than Friday February 18th.

If you have any questions concerning the vote or the recommendations prepared by the U2WG, please come to one of the following informational sessions:

Wednesday February 9th 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.  D125 Hilliard (Glendon Campus)

Thursday February 10th 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. HNE 001 (Keele Campus)

Tuesday February 15th 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. 701 Ross South  (Keele Campus)

FORENSIC AUDIT REPORT

At the January 31st GMM, chaired by CUPE National President, Paul Moist, the auditors presented a thirty page summary of their forensic audit report.

As this report cannot be circulated electronically, we encourage all contract faculty to stop by 3903 headquarters in the East Office Building to pick up a copy of the auditors’ findings, or email 3903 administrator, Lynn McDougall (lmcdougall@cupe.ca), to have a hard copy sent to your home address.

The Forensic Auditor’s report raises serious concerns regarding fiscal mismanagement in the Local. Given that the bulk of Local 3903’s income comes from Unit 2 members’ dues, this is a grave issue that Contract Faculty not only must be concerned about, but also must concern themselves with.

A substantial portion of our monthly dues (check your payslip to see how much you are paying!) is now having to go to paying off debts generated by breaches in fiduciary responsibility, lack of internal financial controls, and the failure to properly complete necessary forms during the strike.

The Auditor’s final report will be submitted by the end of administration in mid March. It will then be up to the Local to investigate discrepancies found through the forensic audit. CUPE National will also submit a copy of the report to our bonding agency (Cooperatives) in an attempt to recoup at least a small portion of the lost monies in question.

However, a troubling aspect of the January 31st GMM was that many Unit 1 and Unit 3 members did not appear terribly disturbed by events and are seeking to sweep the problematic findings of the forensic audit under the carpet. As one Unit 1 member put it: “We had bad record keeping but saying we’re sending it to the police is inappropriate … we’ve been dysfunctional, deal with it and close the chapter.” Many were particularly opposed to submitting the report to the bonding agency (which would allow us to retrieve at least $50,000 back through insurance) as this would entail RCMP investigations.

Action Item: Please obtain a copy of Forensic Audit Report from 3903 headquarters and read it to determine what action or inaction the Local should take once the final report is submitted.

FEBRUARY 3 BYLAW GMM – STIGMATIZATION, MARGINALIZATION AND UNIT 2 AUTONOMY

As reported in the last issue of U2News, CUPE 3903 has begun the process of ratifying new bylaws that will govern the Local once administration ends.

On Thursday February 3rd, members from all three units gathered to begin reviewing and approving, article by article, 3903’s new bylaws.

Articles 1 through 8 (see CUPE 3903 website for a copy of the draft bylaws) were passed with some significant amendments, and Article 13 was endorsed so that the Local’s elections can proceed.  However, another meeting will need to be held to finalize the remaining articles in the Bylaws. This meeting is tentatively scheduled for February 17, 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm, in the Chemistry Building, Room 115.

It is unfortunate that the results of the Unit 2 vote on the recommendations generated by the U2WG will not be in before the bylaws review process is complete. If the results of the vote are positive and endorse the creation of a Unit 2 Executive Board within 3903, the Local’s bylaws will then have to be subsequently amended, either just before or just after administration ends, to reflect the necessary changes in the Local’s structure.

In the mean time, the U2WG is attempting to have input into the new bylaws by recommending amendments that will enhance Unit 2’s autonomy within the Local and address some of the concerns raised at Unit 2 meetings last spring.

At the two GMMs that have now been held on the issue of bylaws – January 21st and February 3rd – those opposed to Unit 2 autonomy have made their opposition perfectly clear.  At the January 21st GMM, they maintained the general 3903 membership must not have its time wasted by merely Unit 2 issues.  One Unit 1 member referred to Unit 2 issues as a “can of worms” that should not be opened. On February 3rd they insisted Unit 2 issues must not be addressed more unit-specifically by Unit 2 – because that would be divisive to the solidarity of the general membership.

It is no joke.  They really meant it.  Passionately.  Don’t waste collective time on Unit 2 issues – but don’t let Unit 2 divide the collective by addressing its own issues more autonomously.

This is the sort of tragically odious contradiction from which the opponents of Unit 2 autonomy continually derive the same oppressive conclusion.  Unit 2 issues should not be addressed.  Absent sufficiently extenuating circumstances, Unit 2 issues are better ignored in Local 3903.  That’s what the opponents of Unit 2 autonomy invariably conclude.  That’s what they appear to expect everyone should conclude.  That’s why they keep repeating Unit 2 has neither particular issues nor distinct identity from graduate students.

Alas, Unit 2 is distinct not only in fact, but by definition.  We are employees of York University.  Graduate students hold student and student-linked employment status, with a fixed guarantee of six years employment for Unit 1 members. Contract Faculty enjoy no such guarantees. Our guarantee of employment is precarious, from term to term, only assured once our contracts are signed, if and when we are offered contracts.  And there is nothing in our Collective Agreement definition of Unit 2, as “not full-time students,” that can justify this status-quo.  This status-quo is broken.

Locals organized on component models abound in Canada to reflect distinctions precisely such as Unit 2’s.  Yet more strikingly, Canadian society is fundamentally constituted on principle that difference cannot be oppressed and distinction cannot be repressed.  As residents in Canada, we must always seek to ensure our differences and distinctions are not just fairly represented – but even, more often, celebrated and given concrete meaning.

The travesty and mockery of Unit 2 has persisted too long by decades.  When our opponents deny our distinct identity and issues; when they inconsistently assert the general membership should not waste time on issues pertaining distinctly to Unit 2; when they again inconsistently maintain that our identity and issues are divisive to the general membership; this gives lie to any meaningful solidarity. We cannot continue to ignore such spectacularly divisive, anti-democratic, and totalitarian efforts to oppress us.

Instead of recognizing that a stronger Unit 2 means a stronger 3903 – our opponents seek only to silence us.  Instead of encouraging us to represent and express our issues in genuine solidarity – our opponents only deny we can have anything to say.  But we do have something to say.  We have plenty to say.  And our opponents will not – indeed, cannot – continue silencing us.  For right now, even as we speak, Unit 2 contract faculty have begun discussing and exploring our singular issues.  The conversation has begun.  It began at Unit 2 meetings during the strike. It has continued through Unit 2 meetings organized by the U2WG during administration. It will continue long after administration ends in March.

Action Item: Help bolster our Unit 2 conversation – come out to the next Bylaw meeting. The U2WG has prepared several amendments to address issues raised by Contract Faculty. Your attendance at the February 17th Bylaws meeting will be vital. Please try to attend. The precise details as to the time and location of the meeting will be posted on the U2listserv and CUPE 3903 News soon.

ELECTIONS

Plans for electing a new Local executive are now underway.  The timelines around elections are as follows:

February 7th to 11th — Nomination Period

February 14th to 25th — Campaign Period

February 28th to March 4th (inclusive) — Voting by secret ballot (at Keele and Glendon)

Ballots will be counted at the General Membership Meeting on March 7, 2011, at which time the newly elected officers will be sworn in.

One important victory that was achieved at the February 3rd bylaws meeting Is that unit-specific executive positions can now only be voted on by members within the specified bargaining unit. In other words, only Contract Faculty can nominate and vote in Unit 2 executive officers. This is an important change. It means that it will be crucial that Unit 2 members vote in the upcoming elections.

There remain, however, two significant problems with the impending elections.

First, the Grievance Officer position has traditionally been designated a Unit 2 position in the Local, mainly due to the fact that 85%-90% of the grievances that occur in 3903 relate to Unit 2 work. However, the new bylaws drafted by the Bylaw Committee have removed this designation, making the position open to all units in the Local. This is a serious problem as it is important to have skilled oversight, knowledge of the Unit 2 Collective Agreement, and a familiarity with the history of past grievances relating to Contract Faculty for this position.

The U2WG has prepared an amendment for Article 9 of the new bylaws (which defines the executive officer positions) to revert the Grievance Officer position back to a Unit 2 designation. However, the February 3rd GMM ended before this article and the U2WG amendment could be discussed and voted on. Hence, the administrator, Lynn McDougall, has proceeded incorrectly in her election announcements with opening up the position of Grievance Officer to all units. Since Article 9 has not yet been voted on, our current bylaws should apply. These bylaws stipulate that the Grievance Officer position “is reserved for a Unit 2 member, unless no member from that unit is willing to stand, in which case any unit member may be nominated” (CUPE 3903 Bylaws 2003).

The second problem regarding the recently advertised elections is that they include the position of Postings Officer. Again, traditionally, in this local, this position has been elected when committee elections are held, and not during the electoral process for executive officers. The Postings Officer does not sit on executive.

Currently, Contract Faculty are facing substantial challenges with respect to Unit 2 job postings, as the university quite arbitrarily attempts to change course descriptions, qualifications for Unit 2 positions, and variances in Unit 2 workloads, particularly with respect to Foundations and Gen Ed teaching. Hence, the U2WG has also prepared an amendment to make the Postings Officer a Unit 2-designated position. But, as with the Grievance Officer amendment, this change has yet to be reviewed and put forward at a GMM of the Local.

Action Item: Please attend the next bylaw GMM on February 17th (time and location TBA) to support the U2WG amendments, including those outlined above relating to Grievance and Posting Officer positions. Your attendance can make a difference for Unit 2!

We encourage any Unit 2 members who are interested in running for executive positions to put their names forward. While some executive positions are unit specific (i.e. U2 Vice President, U2 Chief Steward, and hopefully Grievance Officer), Unit 2 members should also consider running for all-unit positions, such as Chairperson, Secretary/Research Officer, Treasurer, and Communications Officer. The Trans-Feminist Action Caucus will also be holding elections for two positions on the executive. Interested Unit 2 members should consider running for these positions as well.

Nomination forms, the nomination box and register will be available at the 3903 union office no later than 10am, Monday February 7, and will continue to be available during office hours until 3pm on Friday February 11, 2011.

If you have any questions regarding the elections, running for executive office, or completing nomination forms, please contact the U2WG at: U2.Working.Group@gmail.com

Tags: ,


Next Page »