“Striking Part-Timers in Canada”
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Yesterday afternoon, I interviewed Dr. Judy Bates. She is the president of the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association. As you may know, the 366 part-time faculty represented by the WLUFA went out on strike a few days ago. Judy Bates is a pleasant woman with a British accent, and a talent for remembering her speaking points. We spoke for half an hour about why the university’s part-timers are on strike, what the union ultimately hopes to gain for their part-timers, and why she thinks all part-time faculty should be expected to advise students and conduct research. This is the first strike ever at Wilfrid Laurier, and the union’s leaders are stumped. There’s a new president at the institution, and Bates posited that, perhaps, the institution’s new leader is trying to let the union know who’s in charge. Pushing faculty to strike doesn’t seem like the best way to establish and cement one’s leadership abilities.
The union’s web page is full of the usual strike rhetoric. The university’s web page displays a prominent “Labour Update.” Both sides are accusing each other of encouraging students to drop courses taught by contract faculty on strike. The union has no idea why university officials aren’t back at the bargaining table. University officials are “ready to resume bargaining anytime.” The university’s website provides “factually-based information.” The implication is that the union’s leaders are, maybe, stretching the truth? In some ways, it’s like watching a familiar family fight. The tragedy, of course, is that thousands of students are missing classes.
I raised the “pay gap” issue with Dr. Bates, and at Wilfrid Laurier a typical contract faculty members earns just 30 percent of what a full-time faculty member earns for teaching the same five course load. The part-timers have been represented by the union since 1998, and Bates suggested that in that decade the pay gap has increased though this was a guess, and she promised to send along the actual numbers. If the gap is 70 percent, and it has increased, one could question the efficacy of the union’s representation and the goals of its leadership. As much as I admire the leaders of CAUT and their commitment to organizing part-time faculty, as well as the current “It’s Time” campaign underway throughout Ontario under the auspices of OPSEU, part-time faculty pay under union representation should not deteriorate.
The interview with Judy Bates will be posted later today as a part of the AdjunctNation.com Podcast Interview Series. Here are links to our other Podcast Interviews:
- “Dr Brown’s Revolt” – an interview with full-time faculty member Dr. Peter Brown, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the 8000 part-time faculty employed in the SUNY system.
- “SEIU Local 500: Eight Years in the Making” – an interview with Kip Lornell and Libby Smigel, both part-time faculty members at George Washington University. They talk about the long road to the organization and recognition of the 1,200 member part-time faculty union.
- “Walking the Picket Line Along the Loyalist Highway” – Dr. Judy Bates, President of the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association, in Ontario, Canada, discusses the circumstances surrounding the first-ever strike of WLU’s 366 contract faculty.
- “AAUP at a Crossroads: An Interview With AAUP President Cary Nelson, Part 1 of 2” – The first order of business for Dr. Cary Nelson is to get himself re-elected. After that, he intends to lead AAUP straight into the skirmish to organize and represent the nation’s 700,000 part-time faculty one campus at a time.
Send comments and suggestions concerning our Podcast Interview Series directly to me. I look forward to your feedback.