TORONTO, Feb. 25, 2015 /CNW/ - The quality of Ontario's postsecondary education system is threatened by the poor working conditions of contract faculty. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) launched a campaign today to the difficult circumstances faced by contract faculty, who nevertheless are talented teachers and researchers. The launch coincides with National Adjunct Walkout Day in the United States, where contract faculty will leave their classrooms to protest their working conditions.
Despite teaching more than half of university courses on many Ontario campuses, contract professors have no job security, no access to benefits, and low pay. The increased use of contract faculty traps many outstanding teachers and researchers in precarious work, and makes it difficult to provide a high-quality learning experience to students.
As universities seek band aid solutions to underfunding, unfair working conditions for contract faculty have worsened, leading to conflict on campuses. The contract faculty walkout across the USA is one example. Closer to home, contract faculty at York University and the University of Toronto are poised to strike.
To raise awareness of this issue - and the impressive individuals forced into contract academic work - OCUFA is launching a new campaign in solidarity with our colleagues in the United States. This campaign will highlight the challenges facing Ontario's contract faculty through real-life stories submitted by professors.
"We stand alongside our American contract faculty colleagues who walked out of their classrooms to protest unequal and unfair working conditions," said Kate Lawson, president of OCUFA. "Ontario's universities are depending more and more on contract faculty members. We estimate that the number of Ontario university courses taught by precarious faculty has jumped by 87 per cent since 2000."
This jump hurts students. Contract faculty are committed educators who want to help their students excel through teaching and mentorship. However, due to the insecure nature of their work, they are unable to engage with students in the same way as full-time professors. They lack space to meet with students, and are forced to race between teaching contracts on multiple campuses. Time spent with students outside of class is also frequently unpaid, forcing contract faculty to choose between helping students and earning a reasonable living.
"Improving the working conditions of contract faculty is about improving the learning experience for students across the province," said Lawson. "It's also about social justice and fairness for every academic employee."
The campaign can be found at www.weteachontario.ca.
OCUFA is the voice of 17,000 university professors and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario. On behalf of its members, it is committed to building a high quality and accessible higher education system in the province.
SOURCE Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
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