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CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2001

Week of Action Building Momentum

A coalition of organizations, unions and activists across the U.S. and Canada have banded together to designate Oct. 28 ­ Nov. 3, 2001 as Fair Employment Week.

The campaign about contract academic staff will be a week of coordinated action designed to highlight the poor pay and working conditions of contract academic staff said CAUT's executive director Jim Turk. "The campaign will bring a focus to an ongoing debate about the effect that the exploitation of contract academic staff has on the integrity of our post-secondary institutions."

The campaign arose from January's National Conference on Contingent Academic Labor in San Jose, where the proposal was overwhelmingly endorsed by participants. Since then, a steering committee has been soliciting support and financial donations from national and local organizations.

CAUT has endorsed the campaign and is encouraging member associations — particularly those which represent contract academic staff — to participate.

Among the growing number of sponsors are the American Association of University Professors, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Alliance for Fair Employment, the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, the California Part-time Faculty Association, the Concordia University Part-time Faculty Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

"The campaign will be called Campus Equity Week in the U.S., but organizations on both sides of the border are working together to ensure that events are complementary," Turk said.

In addition to educating the public and raising the issue in media and policy circles, the campaign is designed to stimulate local organizing. "Events might range from a rally to support local bargaining to a press conference, teach-in or hearings at the state or provincial legislatures," Turk explained. "The uniting theme of equity for contract faculty is sufficiently general to allow each jurisdiction to focus on the issue or issues most relevant to them, and to hold events appropriate for their situation."

CAUT's primary role leading up to the campaign will be to help link member organizations who want to participate with the steering committee and with each other.

"This is an important campaign," said Brenda McLean, a member of CAUT's Contract Academic Staff Committee and a longtime sessional instructor in nursing at the University of Alberta. "Not only will this help faculty associations mobilize their contract academic staff members, or support ongoing organizing drives — it will help everyone in the university community understand the challenges sessionals face. Fair Employment Week will demonstrate that all academic staff can work together to confront the issue of casualization."

Information on Fair Employment Week can be obtained from Vicky Smallman at CAUT (