Our Bargaining Priorities: Salaries and Vacation
When the Union last met with the Employer to bargain a Collective Agreement, the Union stressed that the increasing reliance on sessional and contract teaching at the University of Toronto, and across Ontario more broadly, must lead to a fundamental change in the treatment of those doing this teaching. This situation is becoming untenable. Change is needed.
No longer is sessional teaching used sporadically to fill occasional curriculum gaps created by the leaves and sabbaticals of full-time Faculty. No longer are Sessional Lecturers mostly professionals in other fields, who opt periodically to teach a course in their area of specialization for a bit of extra income and professional fulfillment. No—sessional and contract teaching now comprises a significant and stable percentage of teaching at Ontario’s universities, including close to a majority here at the University of Toronto. At U of T, that includes members of both Unit 1 and Unit 3, both of which are currently bargaining collective agreements.
Our individual jobs may be part-time and contractual, but we are also now an integral and permanent part of how the university operates.
Since our last round of bargaining, the membership of CUPE 3902 Unit 3 has grown by significant numbers. Meanwhile, the number of Course Instructors in Unit 1, who do the same work as Unit 3’s Sessionals, has grown even more significantly. Overall, the Units are nearly 1/3 larger than they were going into our last round of bargaining, and that growth reflects the University’s increasing use of sessional and contract teaching as the primary mode of delivering education to its eighty thousand-plus students.
To put it simply, without sessional and contract faculty today, there
is no University of Toronto. There is no education. There are no curricula. There are no degrees that are not driven by our members’ work in the classroom. And yet, this reality has not translated into increased compensation and recognition for our members.
When there is this kind of sea change in the way curricula are delivered and degrees conferred—when the work of classroom teaching is transferred en masse from one group of employees to another—then it is right and necessary for there to be a corresponding sea change in the way those employees are regarded and compensated. We have not seen that latter change yet.
What we propose is simple: to alter the per-course rate for sessional and contract faculty in a significant way, so that our members will be able to attain a decent middle-class income. Our pay is currently at the barely excusable minimum of what highly-qualified and highly-educated employees deserve.
To this end, and as part of our 2020 Vision campaign, the Unit 3 Bargaining Team will be tabling a proposal for a $10,000 minimum half-course rate for all Sessional Lecturers. This rate mirrors the rate demanded by Unit 1’s Bargaining Team. We will also be seeking across-the-board raises for our Unit’s hourly employees (Music Professionals and Writing Instructors), and three weeks of vacation equivalency, which will bring us in line with the minimum standards of the Fight for 15 campaign and the recommendations of Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review.
These are bold proposals which we hope will begin to alter both the way Sessional Lecturers are perceived and valued at the University of Toronto. Because, at the end of the day, what we do is valuable. At the end of the day, we are U of T.
This blog is written in support of the CUPE 3902 Unit 3 2017-18 round of collective bargaining. For info on Unit 3 Bargaining, watch this space. We will periodically post short pieces giving bargaining updates, the context and motivation behind our proposals, and other information pertinent to the bargaining process. We also invite members to provide feedback in the comment section of posts, and to share the posts on your social networks. For more information on bargaining, check the bulletins, and other resources.
Thanks for this important summary of the huge change in context at U of T and across academic institutions, and their ramifications for us as sessional lecturers. And thanks to the Bargaining Support committee for your service!