UWOFA letter in support of contract faculty at York University

Contract faculty at York University are currently on strike after negotiations with the university administration did not produce a collective agreement. UWOFA president Stephen Pitel sent the following letter in support of contract faculty at York to Board of Governors chair Rick Waugh and university president Rhonda Lenton.

Dear Mr. Waugh and Dr. Lenton,

On behalf of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association, I write to urge you to negotiate in good faith with the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 and to reach a fair deal.

The members of CUPE 3903 play a vital role in delivering courses and supporting the academic mission of York University. The concessions that York is seeking in negotiations will compromise the working conditions of contract faculty, teaching assistants and graduate assistants. This will in turn negatively impact the learning environment for York's students.

Faculty members across Ontario have been working together to improve fairness and job security for contract faculty members. Too many sessional instructors at Ontario universities are in precarious positions and need to reapply for their job every semester. They live without the stability needed to make long-term plans for themselves and their families. The quality of education is better when instructors are treated fairly and given appropriate levels of compensation, job security, and time to work on teaching and supporting students.

It is particularly disappointing that York is proposing to reduce existing opportunities for a limited number of conversions for long-serving contract faculty members to full-time appointments. This shows a lack of appreciation for the need for improved job security measures. UWOFA supports CUPE 3903 in defending existing conversions and seeking to expand pathways for contract faculty members to move into more secure full-time positions.

A recent public opinion poll found that over 90 per cent of Ontarians expect universities to be model employers in their communities. Now is the time to support more - not fewer - good jobs. Faculty members across the province support workers at York in their effort to defend good jobs and improve student learning conditions.

UWOFA urges York to drop its concessionary demands and to negotiate a fair and equitable collective agreement with CUPE 3903.


Stephen G.A. Pitel
President, UWOFA