We head into collective agreement negotiations with the colleges this summer. As we look ahead, we know that we face some significant challenges to creating a better environment for both students and faculty.
We know, right now, 70 per cent of faculty are working in precarious, under-paid contract positions. When we raise concerns with senior administrators about this, we are told that the colleges have no choice, as they have no money to create good paying secure jobs for faculty.
Yet at the same time that they are claiming they’re out of money, new buildings are going up on many campuses; more high-paid administrators are being hired, outpacing full-time faculty hiring; and student tuition continues to rise.
From this, we know that the issue is priorities, not money. The colleges are certainly underfunded, but that fact makes it even more important they put the limited funds they have into students and faculty first.
Ontario’s Public Colleges at 50: A Better Plan, Issues in Collective Bargaining 2017
OPSEU has published two newsletters and two videos on issues facing Ontario’s public colleges as we head into collective bargaining beginning July 4, 2017.
1. Students and Faculty First
2. Collegial Governance in Ontario’s Colleges: The Time is Now
For the first time in the history of our division, collegial governance, including faculty academic freedom, is the highest-ranked demand coming out of the provincial demand-setting meeting. This is a historic development; however, collegial governance and academic freedom have long been issues within the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAATs).
In 1984, faculty at the CAATs went out on one of only three strikes that have occurred in the system’s 50-year history. Unsustainable faculty workloads were a prime concern, but also at issue was growing evidence that a “factory floor” management model, in which administrators made academic decisions and faculty had little power to ensure program quality, was utterly unworkable.
In response to the 1984 strike, a provincial taskforce was struck to explore the issues that drove the job action. The result was the Skolnik Report, written by respected Ontario Institute for Studies in Education professor Michael Skolnik, which made a strong case for changing the assignment of faculty workloads and led to the Standard Workload Form (SWF).Â In addition, the report made clear recommendations about faculty input into academic decision-making.