I was reading the other day about the recent Canadian Council on Learning’s report on post-secondary education in the Toronto Globe and Mail. It was almost too perfect that at the very end of the Globe and Mail story there was this paragraph:
In the area of better collection of information, the report notes that since 1999 there has been very little data available on the community college system, including graduation numbers and faculty. It notes there also is little known about the use of part-time faculty at universities.
Let me digress for a moment, and say that I am sometimes, and not-so-secretly, irked, irritated and annoyed at the AFT, NEA and AAUP for their somewhat anemic efforts on behalf of their part-time faculty members. However, all three education unions have commissioned major studies about the use of part-time faculty in higher education.
So, when I read that the Canadian Council’s study concludes that “little is known about the use of part-time faculty at universities, I surfed over to the websites of both of the labor unions on Canada that represent thousands and thousands of part-time faculty. Over at CAUT (Canadian Associaiton of University Teachers), I downloaded the CAUT Almanac of Post-Secondary Education 2007, and paid particular attention to the section titled “Academic Staff.” Not a single mention of part-time faculty. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, not a blessed thing.
Never one to give up easily, I looked at the union’s list of “Issues and Campaigns.” CAUT is for women, civil liberties, better funding, international human rights and solidarity. CAUT is for “equity,” too. Before you get all excited, it’s not that kind of equity, as in equal pay for part-time faculty. By this time I was muttering: “Where in the H.E. Double Hockey Sticks” does CAUT stand on the issue of part-time faculty?”
There was not a single shred of research on CAUT’s webpage about part-time faculty. So, it was adieu CAUT. I surfed over to CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees). Surely the good trade unionists at CUPE had some facts and figures about the use of the part-time and sessional college faculty whom the union represents. The “topics” page was a nice little resource that had plenty of headings that would have lended themselves to the inclusion of part-time faculty data. I zeroed in on the heading.
I discovered in the press releases archived that CUPE represents part-timers and contract faculty at Mount Saint Vincent University, Trent University, Saint Mary’s University (200 part-timers there), 250 sessional lecturers at the University of Saskatchewan, full-time temporary lecturers at the University of Quebec, contract lecturers at Carleton University, and contract faculty at York University. Any research on the use of part-time faculty? (Please see “Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, not a blessed thing” comment about CAUT above.)
I know there are Canadian education union national representatives, like CUPE’s Derek Blackadder, who pay particular attention to the plight of Canada’s sessionals. However, without a major study which examines the use of part-time, sessional and contract faculty at Canadian universities, it will be impossible to identify employment trends, and how those trends have impacted, are impacting and will impact Canadian higher education.
Where in Canada is Waldo teaching? I am sorry to have to say no one knows for sure.
Remind me to send a thank you note the next time the AFT, NEA and/or AAUP updates their research on the use of part-time faculty in U.S. universities.