Who are Contract Faculty?

Brad WalchukNews, Unit 2

In Nov. 2009, I was invited to speak on the status and the culture of Contract Faculty at a conference at the University of Guelph. Several terrific panels and conversations occurred (and I gave my paper, too). One of things arising from the conference was a strong desire and pressing need to improve the data collection on Contract Faculty. Effectively, this is an invisible workforce. Stats Canada, for instance, stopped collecting data on these workers in the mid-1990s. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that data collection stopped just as universities, especially in Ontario, decided on faculty non-renewal policies and turned to contract workers instead. CAUT is only now including them in their surveys. They can’t be blamed for an oversight because only two locals from CUPE have been allowed to affiliate with CAUT and the faculty associations that include contract workers typically only worry about tenure-track postings. Our own MUFA can be held as a shining example. They fiddled away when CLAs were cut to the sound of promises of tenure-stream hires even as the last provost announced a moratorium on such hires.

So, CUPE research and members from York, Athabasca, Carleton began compiling a survey to be released nationally to finally track the workload, the distances travelled, the number of locations worked, etc, of Contract Faculty. In short, the goal is to compile a thorough statistical picture of the day-to-day issues facing these workers. As OUWCC Vice-Chair and as a member of the original discussions, I’ve been lucky to be included in the process. The questions have been developed and the final edits are underway. It will be a web-based survey (using Survey Monkey or a similar engine) and we’ll post a headline and a link as soon as we have it.