Laurier contract faculty in legal strike position

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Photo by Darien Funk

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Contract Teaching Faculty (CTF), represented by WLUFA (Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association) will be in legal strike position on Nov. 21 if an agreement between CTF and WLU cannot be reached. 

Negotiations began in May 2022, and the two parties have met over 11 times to reach a deal regarding the compensation of CTF.  

“About 65 per cent of contract faculty at Laurier earn their entire income at Laurier, and the median compensation for contract faculty is 24, 900 dollars per year,” Rob Kristofferson, Professor of History and Environmental Justice at WLU on the Brantford Campus and President of WLUFA said.  

At WLU, CTF teach on a course by course basis, and have minimal job security in contrast to full-time faculty who are hired on a permanent basis, and have job security. 

“They have no job security, so every four months they have to think of ‘what income am I going to have?’ ‘How am I going to be able to support my family?’ So they’re in a really difficult situation. Laurier contract faculty teach about four courses a year and are paid a little over 8000 dollars a course. ” he said. 

The biggest issue WLUFA is raising to WLU, is that this compensation is not feasible for employees, especially with the cost of living increasing. 

They have no job security, so every four months they have to think of ‘what income am I going to have?’ ‘How am I going to be able to support my family?’

Rob Kristofferson, WLU Brantford Professor of History and Environmental Justice and President of WLUFA

“During the education workers on strike this week, Doug Ford attempted to be heavy handed with them, and the sort of key concepts that they used in that battle was that 39, 000 dollars per year is not enough. Well, at Laurier, over 50 per cent of students are taught by contract faculty, and 24, 000 is not enough,” Kristoffenson said. 

Although full-time faculty are required to teach, complete research and committee work as part of their job, and CTF are hired to do the teaching part of this position, there is a discrepancy between how much each faculty member is paid per course they teach. . 

“Even if you look at the teaching portion, contract faculty are paid less per course than full time faculty––notably less,”  he said. 

WLUFA and the university have not been able to strike a deal as to how to resolve this issue. 

“We’re stuck on equity issues, and it’s primarily compensation. People doing important work like this are paid poorly, and there needs to be recognition of the amount of skills that they’ve acquired over their educational years. They invested huge amounts of money to get PhDs, and now they’re teaching for 8,000 dollars per course. That’s not the income one imagines when you think of someone with a PhD,” Kristofferson said. 

If an agreement cannot be reached between both parties about these issues, CTF will strike, withdrawing their labour and services.  

“We’re still committed to getting a deal. We’re ready and available to negotiate right up until the deadline, and after the strike deadline. On Nov. 15, we will have a government appointed mediator, and we’ll be eating at the table and trying to establish common ground and reach an agreement,” he said. 

If strike action does take place despite efforts to negotiate an agreement before then, the university will remain open and full-time faculty, teaching assistants, and all staff will continue working while strike action and negotiations are carried out.  

“The last thing that we want is a strike. We just want a fair deal, and we’re not  asking for the moon. What’s fair allows people to live with dignity and respect and allows people to navigate a job that is going to work to the best benefit of delivering high quality education to their students,” he said. 

For updates on CTF and WLU negotiations and strike information, click here.


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