Precarious working conditions for faculty spark concern

by | Sep 30, 2016 | Biz/Tech, Campus News, North

Sasha Azeez


Ontario’s public service union hosted an information picket to boost awareness about the precarious nature of contract work at Ontario’s 24 community colleges.

The Contract Faculty Forward Day of Action on Sept. 28 at the Humber College North campus was held to highlight the situation of part-timers and partial load staff and faculty who face unequal pay and working conditions in comparison to full-time faculty, leaving their jobs unstable and insecure.

Bob Bolf, president of Humber Faculty Union with the  Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said contract workers often do not know what their next piece of work will be four months down the road.

“We are trying to improve their working conditions, raise wages and make their positions less precarious,” Bolf said.

An estimated 70 per cent of the college’s faculty are contract teachers faced with lower pay, a lack of benefits and no job security, according to CFF.

“We have over 1000 contract faculty teaching at Humber, they get paid a lot less compared to full-time faculty and the money goes right back into Humber,” said Bolf.

“They are employed at the discretion of the employer so they never have any stability from term to term,” he said.

Many teachers who are contract-based are required to teach the same courses and have the same qualifications as full-timers, but without the benefits.

Local 562 of OPSEU is also asking supporters to sign an on-line petition urging Premier Kathleen Wynne to end precarious employment in the province’s 24 colleges.

Pam Johnson, Humber teacher in theatre performance, said she has been on contract for 16 years at Humber College.

“I really don’t know what my financial situation is, right now I don’t know if I’m even teaching in January. Hopefully I am,” Johnson said.

“Often times I don’t find out until November, and there is no guarantee that they will renew my contract,” she said.

Johnson said it seems as though the college feels like it has no obligation towards their contract faculty.

Many contract-based faculty are afraid to voice their opinion and speak out against their working conditions, she said.

“There could be retributions, and they may not renew our contracts to retaliate against speaking about this issue,” said Johnson.

Stacey Merritt, Humber full time faculty in hospitality, said the quality of education for students is at risk when faculty face uncertain working conditions.

“The ability to help students outside the classroom can be greatly diminished because they often have another job they need to tend to,” said Merritt.

Both full-time and part-time faculty held up signs reading “Equal Pay for Equal Work”

to show their support.