Jun 25 2017

Quality Jobs, Quality Education, Better Futures

Category: Contract Faculty,Online PublicationBob Hanke @ 3:08 pm

New report highlights the impact of precarious work on post-secondary sector

(excerpted from CUPE National, June 6, 2017)

Precarious work deeply impacts people’s lives, health and well-being, and ultimately, their communities. That’s the number one thing CUPE heard in a series of town halls on precarious work in the post-secondary sector held earlier this year.

In a new report, CUPE outlines the key lessons we heard from our members and our allies. These include important distinctions about what precarious work looks like on campuses today, such as the reality that precarious work is not just about filling temporary vacancies or short-term roles: some temporary employees have been in their positions for years and have even risen to the rank of supervisor or department chair.

Furthermore, our report reveals, more schools are using students for labour without offering adequate wages or protection. In particular, reliance on undergraduates to provide academic and support work is growing.

The growing reliance of post-secondary institutions on precarious work has serious consequences for workers. Precarious workers have higher levels of stress, greater difficulty defending their rights, limited ability to make life choices that many of us take for granted, and lower access to government programs and services. Precarity also makes it harder for workers to be good at their job, as well as making it harder for other workers to do their jobs.

To read the rest of this introduction and access the complete report, click here.

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May 14 2017

Contingent No More: An Academic Manifesto

Category: Contract Faculty,EssaysBob Hanke @ 5:42 pm

Contingent No More: An academic manifesto

by Maximillian Alvarez

(excerpted from The Baffler, May 3, 2017)

A SPECTER IS HAUNTING ACADEMIA—the specter of something that has yet to definitively claim a name for itself, but is rising nonetheless. So many of us have been buried underground, so many breathing through small breaks in the soil that covers our pristine university campuses where guided tours are given and frisbees are thrown, where deep-pocketed donors stroll nostalgically and future debtors gaze longingly. Looking up, we may, each of us, feel like the forgotten seeds moldering beneath these hallowed grounds—but we are, all of us, the tectonic plate holding them together. When we move, the world above will feel it.

Academia is in the midst of an acute, unsustainable crisis. For those working in the higher-education industry, and increasingly for those outside of it, it has become impossible to ignore.

To read the rest of this manifesto, click here.

 

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Dec 27 2015

2016 OCUFA Conference Addresses Academic Precarity

Category: Conferences,Contract FacultyBob Hanke @ 9:10 pm

Confronting precarious academic work

February 11-12, 2016

The conference examined the realities and impact of precarious academic work on our universities and consider solutions now and for the future.

Key themes include:

  • Current realities of precarious academic work and the impact on faculty, students, and higher education
  • Learning from the experience of precarious labour in other jurisdictions
  • Responding to the challenges of precarious academic work: current directions and future needs
  • Re-imagining academic work for the future

The 1 1/2 day conference was held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Toronto.

You can access the conference agenda, slides and audio 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 07 2015

The Future of the University

Category: JournalsBob Hanke @ 9:20 am

Perspectives for the New University

The new issue of Krisis, Journal for Contemporary Philosophy deals with the future of the university. The desire for a special issue on this topic was provoked by the Maagdenhuis protest at the University of Amsterdam in the early spring of 2015. The energy of surprise and enthusiasm released by the protests, the fact that direct and confrontational action “worked”, that it was even taken seriously and responded to, seemed to open up new horizons. We strove to capture some of the imaginative energy that was released by these events.

The issue is organized along three points of focus: struggles, diagnoses and futures. Under the heading of struggles, the reader will find contributions that not only describe specific fights taking place but also be able to sense the passion and engagement. Diagnoses deal with the problem at hand. What is actually the problem and how can we grasp it in such a way that we do not argue ourselves into passivity? Finally, there are contributions which explicitly propose future images of the university, both in terms of structure and organization as well as alternative concepts and callings.

To download this special issue, go to:

http://www.krisis.eu/content/2015-2/Krisis-2015-2-complete-issue.pdf

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