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CAUT Bulletin Archives

January 2001

Part-Timers Organize at Wilfrid Laurier University

The Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association won a resounding victory when part-timers voted overwhelmingly to join WLUFA in a certification vote conducted by the Ontario Labour Relations Board in December.

WLUFA, the latest union to include part-time colleagues in their faculty association, signed up more than the required 40 per cent of part-timers to trigger a vote by the labour board.

"We worked hard to get them to sign cards and join the association," said faculty association president Stephen Stack "The part-timers will form a second bargaining unit within WLUFA."

Stack said the chief impetus came from CAUT but there were also "some restive part-timers who wanted to be organized."

Part-timers number nearly as many as the roughly 300 full-time faculty at the university.

The movement to bring part-time academic staff members within already unionized faculty associations is gathering momentum across the country. Queen's, UBC and Western Ontario set off a trend which was followed last year by Bishop's in the spring and by Nipissing in the fall.

"It's a country-wide movement," said association vice-president Joyce Lorimer. "There was a general feeling that unorganized part-timers across the country have terrible working conditions. Salaries and benefits are poor and they have absolutely no provisions to define their working conditions."

Lorimer said there was no single complaint that led to the vote on Dec. 14 to certify a bargaining unit at the Waterloo and Brantford campuses of roughly 260 part-time faculty members.

"WLUFA as an association has never been in the radical vanguard of academic unionism, but it has won a reputation for its capacity to protect the interests of its members by successful contract bargaining and by being alert to developing trends in employer/employee relations in academe in general, and on this campus in particular," Lorimer noted.

"Part-timers are like us and they are a fact of life in academic employment for the foreseeable future. Both we and they have a community of interest in the improvement of their working conditions.

"It is in this context that the executive decided to recommend the organization of part-time academic staff at Wilfrid Laurier to the membership."

Currently, most part-timers earn $4,400 for a 12-week course of three hours' teaching time weekly, not including time spent on preparation, marking papers or meeting students.

"Part-time contracts that have been negotiated within faculty associations indicate that in addition to improvements in salaries and access to benefits, part-timers can achieve fair hiring practices," Stack said.

CAUT is actively campaigning to bring part-time staff under the umbrella of collective agreements.

"In the past decade, administrators have increasingly chosen to use contract positions for ongoing staffing requirements -- exploiting the contract academic staff, their students, and their colleagues," noted Jim Turk, executive director of CAUT.

"Tenured and tenure-track staff face a stark choice: help win salary, working conditions and other rights comparable to their own for contract academic staff or watch their own situation gradually decline to that suffered by their contract colleagues.

"The best way to move forward is to include all academic staff in faculty associations and to recognize that the continued exploitation of some will eventually lead to the exploitation of all.

"That is why we are so delighted with the victory at Wilfrid Laurier."