uToronto, YorkU strikes point to bigger issues affecting PSE

March 6, 2015

The Globe and Mail has published a series of op-eds that examine labour action at York University and the University of Toronto from a number of perspectives. Reporter Simona Chiose argues that the strikes point to changes in how universities deliver instruction, with institutions increasingly relying on contract faculty to teach while tenured and tenure-track faculty focus on research. YorkU President Mamdouh Shoukri said, "with the current funding regimes, we cannot afford for the university to have all courses taught by tenure-track appointments, although the research is important." Faiz Ahmed, Chair of the CUPE unit representing YorkU's striking workers, said that he would like to see the university prioritize multi-year contracts for sessional instructors and to give part-time faculty priority for teaching-track jobs. In an op-ed, Zane Schwartz, a student at uToronto, questions the university's position in the dispute, arguing that their focus on teaching assistants' hourly wages is "misleading." He says that TAs often work more than their allotted 210 hours and that by keeping total funding at $15,000, the university is actually offering a pay cut. Finally, Toronto author Showey Yazdanian says that higher wages for contract faculty are just a short-term issue; in the long term, she says, "contract teaching needs to be abolished." She calls on universities to create a "permanent roster of salaried teaching positions, resorting to contract faculty only when desperate." Globe and Mail (Chiose) | Globe and Mail (Schwartz) | Globe and Mail (Yazdanian)