Sep 05 2014

The Faculty Non-renewal Process

Category: Academic Integrity,Online PublicationBob Hanke @ 2:55 pm

‘My Position Became 6 Separate Contracts for 40 Pct. Less Pay’

by Marc Ouellette

(excerpted from The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 28, 2014)

To the Editor:

I have to admit that I have generally avoided writing too much about my own experience as a contract faculty member because, quite frankly, it does always sound somewhat maudlin. Then I realized that it’s not maudlin if it’s typical; rather, it’s part of a pattern. The pattern is one of blame, denial, obfuscation and, yes, the entitlement Catherine Stukel lists in her jeremiad (“Is That Whining Adjunct Someone We Want Teaching Our Young?” The Chronicle, August 25). However, the entitlement is entirely on the side of those like Ms. Stukel who are quick to point out that things went well for them and therefore if it didn’t go well for the rest of us, it’s our own fault. I do appreciate a good example of transductive reasoning when I see it.

To be sure, it wasn’t my fault when my home province added more than 100,000 students across the board in a period during which they deleted more than 1,100 full-time faculty positions. Indeed, I was hired on a tenure-stream-convertible basis, but nobody wanted me or my predecessor—the position had existed for almost a decade, teaching core courses in the second most popular combined honors program in the faculty—to achieve tenure stream because that would mean a loss of teaching. The chair even joked about it with others during department meetings. While I still had to manage the 40-40-20 load on that contract, I was teaching 3+3 instead of 2+2. The part that was my fault was succeeding. To get that job, I still had to interview and later found that I was definitely the darkest horse in what was expected to be a dog-and-pony show to confirm the hiring of a favorite of certain members of the committee. (As an aside, the dog-and-pony-show interview has become something of a pattern itself and I have come up with some questions to ask hiring committees so that I can tell whether I’m the dog or the pony.) My first year, I earned a merit award in the top third while achieving some of the highest teaching evaluations in the faculty. What made the latter more intriguing was the fact that these were large classes. Eventually, after several years of nominations and being a finalist, I did receive the major teaching award.

In the interim, mind you, my department and faculty decided that I was too expensive, as were 9 of my colleagues. So, during a semi-official moratorium on tenure-stream hiring, my position became six separate contracts for 40 percent less pay (at the time) instead of being converted to tenure-stream. To make things worse, when my students found out via a colleague’s reportage of the same scenario, they banded to protest. This, combined with my excellent evaluations made it clear that I was a Rasputin in the process and was only popular because I was easy on students (with Cultural Studies being an easy ride to begin with). While I continued teaching and became a union activist as a result of the increasingly terrible treatment colleagues and I were receiving, the move to right the wrongs was clearly a further misstep on my part, as three separate grievances (two settlements and one unresolved) will attest.

The last was most interesting and came after a round of provincial negotiations (I had attained the position of vice-chair of the committee for the largest union in the province) in which I was told point-blank by the provincial representative for Ontario and by the human resources chiefs for the Council of Universities that adjuncts “are in the way of graduate students.” I had heard this in the department from my chief rival, in particular. What made this most insulting was the fact that they had developed, cultivated, and perpetuated this myth to obscure their own faculty non-renewal process! Their own policies eliminated more than 1,100 positions, let alone the thousands needed to accommodate current and future growth. Instead, the fastest growing employment segments have been post-docs (who can be disappeared after three years, as if they never happened) and executives. An economist at my own institution did the research for the government(s) regarding the need for faculty renewal and expansion. Yet this data was not only ignored, but the the province and the Council representatives denied its very existence. Then again, they weren’t that happy when some of us obtained the actual budget and revealed that the university was misleading people about its surplus.

To read the rest of this letter, click here.

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Mar 02 2009

List of Candidates and Statements for 2009-2010 CUPE 3903 Executive Elections

Category: Point of Information,Post-strike Discussion (2009)jonnyj @ 12:18 pm

RECORDING SECRETARY (Greg Flemming and Graham Potts)

Greg Flemming

Though the current labour action may appear to be over, the struggle continues: binding arbitration has yet to come to a conclusion; the issues we raised with our collective efforts are being actively concealed by our employer (see the recent insert in the Globe and Mail and the administration’s lack of desire for union involvement at ‘remediation’ events for students); and in one way or another we will be involved in the sector-wide bargaining that will happen in 2010. This is not the time to ratchet down our efforts, but to double them.

To this end I am coming forward with my abilities and experience for the position of recording secretary. I have a year’s worth of communications experience as an officer of public information with the city of Ottawa, and have also lent my expertise to the National Gallery of Canada as a volunteer copy-editor.

I have been active in 3903 since early June of last year as the steward for Social and Political Thought. I have done a lot of work with the Stewards Council in our pre-strike efforts to mobilize our strength, and much more in the day-to-day running of the strike. I have been active in debates and meetings, and will continue to do so.

I aim to work closely with the communications officer, the rest of the executive and the other bodies of the union to help build activist momentum in the directions I have mentioned. Effective internal communications demand that our own materials, including research – the co-ordination and compilation of which is also the purview of the Recording Secretary – are clearly organized and readily available. This means ensuring that minutes, up-to-date collections of bylaws and policies, the collective history of our local and current efforts are documented, well presented, and accessible. Effectively doing this work will help us, our sector and our community as we move forward.

I encourage every member of 3903 to come out and vote, and will continue to work with many of you either as a newly minted member of the executive or a rank-and-file activist. Continue reading “List of Candidates and Statements for 2009-2010 CUPE 3903 Executive Elections”

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Feb 20 2009

2009-2010 Elections

Category: Elections (2011)Bob Hanke @ 11:33 am

At the closing of the nomination period for the 2009-2010 executive term (excluding TFAC elections, which are held separately), the following position has been acclaimed: Congatulations to Ian Hussey, our new Chair of CUPE 3903.

Elections will be held for all other positions following a 16 day campaign period. Statements by the candidates will be made at the March 11 GMM and voting will start at the close of the GMM.

Candidates for the 2009/2010 Executive Elections, to be held at the AGM on March 11th (details TBA), are as follows:

Communications Officer
– Cat Ashton
– Jordy Cummings
– Martin Merener

Grievance Officer
– Mary Anne Coffey
– Reza Rahbari
– Cheryl Cowdy Crawford

Recording Secretary
– Greg Flemming
– Graham Potts
– Chris Vance

– Charles Battershill
– Amrit Heer
– Baris Karaagac

Chief Steward 1
– Sebastien Rioux
– Christina Rousseau

Chief Steward 2
– Lykke de la Cour
– Roxanne Power

Chief Steward 3
– Chelsea Flook
– Saad Sayeed

Vice President Unit 1
– Alban Bargain
– Tanya McFadyen

Vice President Unit 2
– Sharon Davidson
– Manuel Luna

Vice President Unit 3
– Sarah Sackville-McLachlan
– Xavier Scott


Feb 15 2009

Call out for Members to Volunteer as STEWARDS

Category: Point of Informationjonnyj @ 1:48 pm

One of the important goals of CUPE 3903 Stewards’ Council is to strengthen our role and presence within York University. Some of the actions to achieve this include:

  • Recruitment of 1 designated, active, and knowledgeable steward in every York department with 3903 employees for 2009-2010
  • Have representation from all 3 units on Steward Council; Unit 2 especially needs more presence since Units 1 & 3 have carried a major portion of this responsibility on our behalf in the past 
  • Have a diversity mix, where sufficient interest exists
  • Reactivate or fom standing committees and ad hoc sub committees to address special topical issues as a 3903 collective or in conjunction with other York constituencies
  • Develop a series of comprehensive teaching and training sessions to support Stewards in their role (eg what constitutes a grievance, how to assist members to file a grievance; provision of orientation for all new department hires each term re employee rights and the Collective Agreement; encouragement of active member connections within your department; develop a Steward buddy system)

Who are current Departmental Stewards? Visit this website and review the Departmental List for Stewards (left hand index under Unon Central) but remember that lists can be outdated, curent members may choose to withdraw, and most importantly we are missing Steward reps from a number of York departments

If you are interested in volunteering or want to know more info there are lots of resources: come to a meeting listed below; contact Roxanne, Chief Steward Unit 2 (; or send an email to one of the departmental stewards or our SC list serve We have lots of dedicated members who would be happy to respond and welcome new colleagues.

Next scheduled SC meetings**:
Friday, Feb 20
2-4 at EOB

Friday, Feb 27
2-4 in room 430 GSA meeting space
between Vari Hall and York Lanes

**We do anticipate that meeting frequency will decrease over time as we acquire a body of universally confident and knowledgeable reps on Steward Council. Of course anyone can attend SC meetings, raise items for the agenda, and participate in discussion.

Each university department should have at least one steward who acts as a point person and liaison with the rest of the union. All stewards meet monthly and are trained with the current collective agreements to assist members in their departments. Stewards play an important political role by disseminating information to members and mobilizing within departments, both around specific issues with the employer and also in relation to other social justice struggles within the community as a whole.
1. Stewards Protect the Collective Agreements
Stewards can play an important role in helping to gather information on collective agreement violations and ensuring that all members are protected. We can organize and mobilize support for campus-wide initiatives that aim to fight back against breaches of our collective agreements as well as on basic worker and human rights.
These initiatives will be more successful with an active and representative Stewards’ Council.
On a departmental level the role of stewards can include:

  • clarifying the collective agreement provisions for each unit
  • answering questions from members in department
  • passing on reminders about union meetings and other information
  • attending departmental meetings
  • following through on member’s grievances (including attending grievance meetings with members)
  • organizing departmental meetings or actions when collective responses are necessary
  • informing members about the ways they can participate in and help shape the important political work of the local
  • encouraging member participation in the union’s day-to-day functioning
  • keeping members informed about issues in the local and important struggles in the community

At the union level the role of stewards can include:

  • attending Stewards’ Council meetings (one per month) and GMMs usually once per month
  • participation in Stewards’ council committees
  • participation in union political campaigns