Feb 15 2015

This is Contract Faculty Time

Category: Academic Freedom,Contract FacultyBob Hanke @ 12:55 am

York Faculty in Support of Contract Faculty

Produced by videographer Alex Lisman, in conjunction with the CUPE 3903 communications committee, this new video features eight, tenured York University faculty members speaking about the obligation to engage the issue of contract faculty, the problem of precarious academic labour, the contribution that contract faculty make to teaching and research, and what the administration can do to exercise higher educational leadership and address this growing problem in the current round of collective bargaining.

To view this groundbreaking, revealing, educational video, click here.

Canadian higher education now faces an ominous situation. Increasingly, the university is being turned into a corporate business where education is viewed as a commodity. As a consequence, to quote John Ralston Saul, “democracy is weakening. Corporatism is strengthening. Certainly corporatism is creating a conformist society” (The Unconscious Civilization: 1995).

Corporate efficiency is the main force now driving York University where the administration holds all the power to implement policies with little regard to York’s avowed mission of academic pursuit, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge. York is chipping away at the collegial entity of the professoriate who endeavor to consciously shape the university in pursuit of its motto: Tentanda Via: the way must be tried.

One can easily see how York University’s commitment to its mission of  ‘social justice and collegial governance ‘ rings hollow, and the top-heavy administration is inclined to pursue short-sighted policies. An instance in point is its continual rejection of the contract faculty’s legitimate claims and insistent denial of their hopes of becoming full-time academics, despite their being fully qualified and fully utilized at a marginal cost. The contract faculty have been carrying nearly half of the total teaching load in the university, all for inequitable remuneration and inelegant terms of employment. It is obvious that the administration cannot hope to fill the classes offered in the university, unless it is prepared to water down the quality of teaching, or replace human creative minds with robotic computers, which will indeed ensure certainty of discipline and control.

The university pursuing the ‘Matthew Effect’ (Robert K. Merton:1968) seems to thrive on accumulating advantages from the contract faculty’s precarity! Is it not YorkU’s time to redress the inequities the contract faculty have bravely suffered so long, and is it not ethical to fairly integrate them into academe?

— Indhu Rajagopal, PhD
Professor, Department of Social Science, York University
Author of Hidden Academics: Contract Faculty in Canadian             Universities (University of Toronto Press, 2002)

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Feb 06 2015

Report Back from COCAL XI

Category: Academic Freedom,ConferencesBob Hanke @ 11:28 am

International adjuncts in solidarity: COCAL XI

Precarious academic labour transcends borders in 200-member adjunct “think tank.”

by Kane X. Faucher

(excerpted from University Affairs, January 29, 2015)

This past August, I attended the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labour conference (COCAL XI) in New York City. The biennial event, which has been running since 1998, brings together adjuncts from around the world to discuss the challenges that face “adjunctification” in higher education. For those who are interested, the 2016 COCAL will be hosted in Edmonton, Alberta. Previous Canadian cities to host have been Quebec City (2010), Vancouver (2006) and Montreal (2002). For those not familiar with COCAL, it is not an organization but a movement that empowers local labour actors both inside and outside the academy, recognizing that labour fairness is a key principle of social justice.

Due to its international scope there are some acknowledged limitations such as labour laws, university and college structures, union coverage, and other issues particular to regions and specific institutions. To overcome these differences, the conference focuses on what unites contingent academic workers, and works to develop an array of tools and tactics in the spirit of collaboration and solidarity. The affectionately dubbed “COCAListas” – organizers and attendees alike – all share a strong belief in the value of higher education, resisting its commodification, and pushing back against the exploitation of our underpaid and too frequently unappreciated academic professionals. Issues of labour equity and academic freedom are treated as inseparable and essential aspects of the higher education mission.

Amidst serious and high-level policy talk there was also occasion for a collaborative poetry reading, a presentation of books written by and about adjuncts, and numerous “hallway chats” between sessions where attendees could discuss finer points not covered during the plenary sessions. Plenary speakers included representatives from New Faculty Majority (NFM), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN), as well as several faculty unions from across Canada, US, and Mexico – a veritable who’s who of academic labour organizations – all dedicated to improving the working conditions of academic workers.

To read the rest of this article, click here.






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