Contract academic staff unequal to profs

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Laurier has recently been ranked as one of Canada’s six higher education institutions that employ the largest amount of Contract Academic Staff (CAS) by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). In fact, about 45 per cent of all courses at Laurier are taught by part-time staff on contract.

CAS, besides facing pay inequality, is also subject to being criticized for their qualifications, which result in complications when seeking full-time positions or tenure-track opportunities.

The negative consequences of having such an extreme amount of CAS include in students not being able to contact their professors or meet at office hours as many live outside the Waterloo Region. Similarly, many lack actual offices, which leads to complications when trying to find a time to meet with them.

Despite these issues, the majority of CAS professors at Laurier are good, hardworking university instructors. Considering that many of them are younger academics looking to make a career for themselves, it is difficult not to empathize with the conditions they have to face. Unlike full-time or tenured professors, CAS face little stability, benefits, pay and even lesser respect amongst many of the other, more valued profs.

With the 2012 sunshine list—an annual list that reveals the names and salaries of public-sector workers in Ontario who earn more than $100,000—being released, it is evident many full-time professors are receiving a significant amount more than CAS and in many cases, a lot more than they deserve.

During previous academic staff labour union strikes and disputes at Laurier, a tactic used to showcase the injustice of professors’ financial situations is to draw attention to the high incomes of Laurier’s administration.

While the high salaries of WLU’s administration are certainly a concern, what is rarely questioned is the high-earnings of full-time professors. If anybody has the right to object their compensation it is the Contract Academic Staff (CAS) that makes up a significant portion of Laurier’s teaching staff.

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