College professors are fighting precarious, temporary work

News Nov 01, 2017 by Victoria Gray Brant News

Maureen Murphy-Fricker taught liberal studies at different colleges in Ontario for 12 years before she landed a full-time teaching job at Conestoga College in Brantford.

“It's a very stressful situation,” she said. “It's no way to live.”

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 237 steward taught for 27 years, but there were many times she thought she could not continue to live with the financial and mental uncertainty teaching came with.

She was sessional professor in Sudbury (a minimum of 12 hours in class per week), but was reduced to three hours without reason.

“I went home and had a good sob on my kitchen floor and then I had to figure out how to get my life back together,” she said.

She and her husband were forced to sell their house and move into an apartment, which she said was very difficult for her.

“I was so ashamed and embarrassed,” she said. “But we had to.”

A year later she was working full-time hours at the college with no benefits and still, no security. The college gave her the paperwork acknowledging her full-time status, but the second page of that package was a lay off notice.

Russ Foubert, one of two picket captains in Brantford and a Conestoga College software engineering technology professor, said there are about 20 professors at the college's Brantford campus and more than half are part-time.

“Many of our faculty members spend more time on the highway then they do in the classroom, some teach classes here, Mohawk and Fanshawe because they are trying to get enough hours to make a full-time job,” he said.

Marc Laferriere, a justice studies professor at Mohawk College, said the colleges have not been back to the bargaining table since a week before the strike started.

“It's irresponsible of them,” he said.

He also said another issue coming to the forefront is the need for more college counselling staff as they are inundated with students needing mental health supports, but it can be weeks before a student is seen and weeks between appointments.

“It is very important for young people to have mental health supports. College students are at a time in their life when mental health issues can arise or they realize they have been struggling because of awareness campaigns,” he said. “When young people receive mental health supports, they are more likely to have less issues later in life. We need more counsellors because their caseload is out of the stratosphere.”

Foubert said many people ask him, "what about the students?" but he said many faculty members are doing this with the students in mind because part-time faculty members don't have the chance to connect with students, see how their course integrates with a program or even hold office hours to help students get a better understanding of the material.

“They give people the course materials and a textbook, maybe, a few days sometimes a day before or the day the course starts. They barely have time to look at it, let alone develop it,” he said.

Premiere Kathleen Wynn said she wont rule out back to work legislation for college professors.

The colleges and unions are about $250 million apart on wages and staffing demands, with the union seeking 50 per cent of jobs to be full-time given the growth in contract positions.

Depending on how it is measured, by head count full-time faculty currently represent about one-third of all teachers, and by teaching hours they represent about 50 per cent.

College enrolment has risen more than 20 per cent since 2007, contract faculty member positions have risen more than 36 per cent while administrative full-time programs have risen more than 56 per cent.

“We're fighting this fight for the students. One day it will be their fight,” Foubert said.

With files from the Toronto Star

College professors are fighting precarious, temporary work

Faculty know they will pass this fight to their students when they graduate

News Nov 01, 2017 by Victoria Gray Brant News

Maureen Murphy-Fricker taught liberal studies at different colleges in Ontario for 12 years before she landed a full-time teaching job at Conestoga College in Brantford.

“It's a very stressful situation,” she said. “It's no way to live.”

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 237 steward taught for 27 years, but there were many times she thought she could not continue to live with the financial and mental uncertainty teaching came with.

She was sessional professor in Sudbury (a minimum of 12 hours in class per week), but was reduced to three hours without reason.

“I went home and had a good sob on my kitchen floor and then I had to figure out how to get my life back together,” she said.

She and her husband were forced to sell their house and move into an apartment, which she said was very difficult for her.

“I was so ashamed and embarrassed,” she said. “But we had to.”

A year later she was working full-time hours at the college with no benefits and still, no security. The college gave her the paperwork acknowledging her full-time status, but the second page of that package was a lay off notice.

Russ Foubert, one of two picket captains in Brantford and a Conestoga College software engineering technology professor, said there are about 20 professors at the college's Brantford campus and more than half are part-time.

“Many of our faculty members spend more time on the highway then they do in the classroom, some teach classes here, Mohawk and Fanshawe because they are trying to get enough hours to make a full-time job,” he said.

Marc Laferriere, a justice studies professor at Mohawk College, said the colleges have not been back to the bargaining table since a week before the strike started.

“It's irresponsible of them,” he said.

He also said another issue coming to the forefront is the need for more college counselling staff as they are inundated with students needing mental health supports, but it can be weeks before a student is seen and weeks between appointments.

“It is very important for young people to have mental health supports. College students are at a time in their life when mental health issues can arise or they realize they have been struggling because of awareness campaigns,” he said. “When young people receive mental health supports, they are more likely to have less issues later in life. We need more counsellors because their caseload is out of the stratosphere.”

Foubert said many people ask him, "what about the students?" but he said many faculty members are doing this with the students in mind because part-time faculty members don't have the chance to connect with students, see how their course integrates with a program or even hold office hours to help students get a better understanding of the material.

“They give people the course materials and a textbook, maybe, a few days sometimes a day before or the day the course starts. They barely have time to look at it, let alone develop it,” he said.

Premiere Kathleen Wynn said she wont rule out back to work legislation for college professors.

The colleges and unions are about $250 million apart on wages and staffing demands, with the union seeking 50 per cent of jobs to be full-time given the growth in contract positions.

Depending on how it is measured, by head count full-time faculty currently represent about one-third of all teachers, and by teaching hours they represent about 50 per cent.

College enrolment has risen more than 20 per cent since 2007, contract faculty member positions have risen more than 36 per cent while administrative full-time programs have risen more than 56 per cent.

“We're fighting this fight for the students. One day it will be their fight,” Foubert said.

With files from the Toronto Star

College professors are fighting precarious, temporary work

Faculty know they will pass this fight to their students when they graduate

News Nov 01, 2017 by Victoria Gray Brant News

Maureen Murphy-Fricker taught liberal studies at different colleges in Ontario for 12 years before she landed a full-time teaching job at Conestoga College in Brantford.

“It's a very stressful situation,” she said. “It's no way to live.”

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 237 steward taught for 27 years, but there were many times she thought she could not continue to live with the financial and mental uncertainty teaching came with.

She was sessional professor in Sudbury (a minimum of 12 hours in class per week), but was reduced to three hours without reason.

“I went home and had a good sob on my kitchen floor and then I had to figure out how to get my life back together,” she said.

She and her husband were forced to sell their house and move into an apartment, which she said was very difficult for her.

“I was so ashamed and embarrassed,” she said. “But we had to.”

A year later she was working full-time hours at the college with no benefits and still, no security. The college gave her the paperwork acknowledging her full-time status, but the second page of that package was a lay off notice.

Russ Foubert, one of two picket captains in Brantford and a Conestoga College software engineering technology professor, said there are about 20 professors at the college's Brantford campus and more than half are part-time.

“Many of our faculty members spend more time on the highway then they do in the classroom, some teach classes here, Mohawk and Fanshawe because they are trying to get enough hours to make a full-time job,” he said.

Marc Laferriere, a justice studies professor at Mohawk College, said the colleges have not been back to the bargaining table since a week before the strike started.

“It's irresponsible of them,” he said.

He also said another issue coming to the forefront is the need for more college counselling staff as they are inundated with students needing mental health supports, but it can be weeks before a student is seen and weeks between appointments.

“It is very important for young people to have mental health supports. College students are at a time in their life when mental health issues can arise or they realize they have been struggling because of awareness campaigns,” he said. “When young people receive mental health supports, they are more likely to have less issues later in life. We need more counsellors because their caseload is out of the stratosphere.”

Foubert said many people ask him, "what about the students?" but he said many faculty members are doing this with the students in mind because part-time faculty members don't have the chance to connect with students, see how their course integrates with a program or even hold office hours to help students get a better understanding of the material.

“They give people the course materials and a textbook, maybe, a few days sometimes a day before or the day the course starts. They barely have time to look at it, let alone develop it,” he said.

Premiere Kathleen Wynn said she wont rule out back to work legislation for college professors.

The colleges and unions are about $250 million apart on wages and staffing demands, with the union seeking 50 per cent of jobs to be full-time given the growth in contract positions.

Depending on how it is measured, by head count full-time faculty currently represent about one-third of all teachers, and by teaching hours they represent about 50 per cent.

College enrolment has risen more than 20 per cent since 2007, contract faculty member positions have risen more than 36 per cent while administrative full-time programs have risen more than 56 per cent.

“We're fighting this fight for the students. One day it will be their fight,” Foubert said.

With files from the Toronto Star