“Universities are not Walmarts,” National President tells Faculty Association Crowd

As part of Fair Employment Week (October 27–31), the President of the Canadian Association of University Professors (CAUT) told members of the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) that it’s time for everyone to join the fight to preserve a public, rigorous and fair university system.

“We are increasingly aware of the inequities in the Canadian university system,” says Robin Vose, President of the CAUT. “Two tiers of academic employment, those with permanent, full-time jobs on the one hand and, on the other, those teaching for a fraction of the money on a part-time basis, have become entrenched.”

“Boards of Regents and their administrators often seem to regard education as just another commodity and the students as customers,” says Vose, who is also a history professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. Rather, universities have a duty to the public. Running them like businesses only undermines their academic integrity. And the increasing reliance on precarious academic labour doesn’t seem to be saving the public any money. “The irony is that the cost of a university education keeps going up rather than down, and the students get less educational benefit because of cuts to faculty numbers,” he says.

At Mount Allison for example, the number of full-time faculty and librarians has dropped from 158 in 2013-14 to 148 in 2014-15. Over the period 2007 to 2013, the number of courses taught through part-time teaching has increased 19.8% while the number of part-time teachers has increased by 14%. Part time faculty are paid around $6000 to teach a single course; most receive no benefits or pension and have little or no job security.

“Meanwhile, administrators increase their own numbers and salaries and build legacy capital projects named after wealthy people,” Vose says. “The other irony is that they praise corporate management but the universities themselves are not well run, by the standards of contemporary management practices,” he said.

Vose says that academic staff unions need to focus on collective bargaining but also political action, in areas like the improvement of employment standards, Employment Insurance, the CPP system, and a national day care policy.

Fair Employment Week (October 27-31, 2014) was established by CAUT in 2001. Its purpose is to highlight the contribution of contract academics and remind everyone of the important role they play under often difficult circumstances of low pay, limited or no job security, and little time or support for their research, teaching or service.

The Mount Allison Faculty Association represents 148 full-time and 47 part-time faculty and librarians.

For more information, contact Robin Vose at (Office) 613-820-2270.