Fair Employment Week Roundup: Contract Faculty in the UOIT Faculty Association
The University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) is making progress creating secure jobs for its members, even while a new national study by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has found that that more faculty than ever are working contract-to-contract in the gig economy. UOITFA is the first union in Ontario to successfully consolidate multiple bargaining units under the province’s new labour laws, and have recently organized limited-term faculty at UOIT who will now benefit from union membership.
This development came just before the release of a CAUT study which found that full-time faculty positions declined by 10 per cent between 2005 and 2015, while part-time faculty numbers increased by 70 per cent. In the study, half of the respondents said they depended on more than one job to pay their bills and 60 per cent have been teaching part-time for more than five years. When asked, a majority of part-time faculty said that they were hoping to get a tenure-track or full-time position.
“Now that we represent tenure-stream, teaching-stream, and limited-term faculty in one bargaining unit, we are well-positioned to create better jobs at UOIT,” said Kimberly Nugent, UOITFA President. “We are stronger when we work together”. “This is a big and positive step forward for our university. As students, we often don’t recognize the impact that this can have on our education. However, I’m happy to say that UOITFA is working significantly hard to ensure this positive progression. Not only will it benefit its members, but it will benefit the students” said Jessica Nguyen, President of the Undergraduate Student Union.
Precarious employment has an adverse effect on the Oshawa community. According to the study, 87 per cent of part-time faculty believe their mental health has been negatively impacted by postsecondary employment because of financial stress, multiple jobs, and uncertainty. This CAUT study echoes concerns raised by many limited term faculty at UOIT.
“When you don’t have job security, you worry about how you will get by,” said Kimberly Nugent. “Many limited-term contract faculty worry they will lose contracts from one year into the next”.
The UOIT Faculty Association is one of the newest faculty associations in Ontario. Over the past 10 years, it has worked to protect the rights of 280 faculty at UOIT.