Summary of issues for CUPE 3903

L. Young (
Fri, 21 Nov 1997 23:43:58 +0000

Hi everyone!
I send it again, few mistakes were on the first version.

Here is my submission. I hope it will succeed to give you a portrait of
the situation of contract faculty.

As contract faculty representative to this Faculty of Arts committee on
governance, I have been asked to give the perspective of this oft
ignored segment of York's teaching faculty. The more that I speak to my
colleagues and reflect upon my past role of president of the Action
Committee of contract faculty, the more I realize that the issues of
which you have asked me to consider are far ranging ones from our
perspective. Sometimes there is direct overlap with the work of this
committee, but sometimes the concerns of contract faculty are treated
only tangentially by the committee, and rightfully so. My tendency is
to be all-inclusive, given the years of injustice that we have
experienced, the number of us involved, etc., and the absence of
solutions or their misapplication (e.g., the inefficiency of the
conversion process). Thus, I am suggesting that the present committee,
as part of its deliberations and final conclusions, recommend that a
joint YUFA-Contract Faculty ad hoc Committee (of the Faculty of Arts)
be activated to deal with the grievances of contract faculty (e.g., 3-4
members from each unit). I think such a committee already exists. We
will have to make sure that every year new members are elected to
constitute it and that they will meet regularly (e.g., twice a month).

We consider ourselves your colleagues in a joint struggle to improve
faculty and university governance. I believe that full-time faculty can
profit from our professional experience in all aspects of faculty and
university life. We cannot stop all injustices, but we can at least try
to stop the ones we see by breaking the silence and acting upon them. I
know that you empathize with our plight, and look forward to a larger
forum to share our issues with you in order to create together
realistic and just solutions. Inevitably, these will include
suggestions that improve the governance process at the faculty.
However, this aspect of the university is only one element to improve
in the larger picture, and I think for us we need more than one
representative to deal with the issues. I look forward to your
sponsorship of such a committee.

With respect to the role of the decision-making process of the chairs,
dean, and the Faculty of Arts, the current topic of our discussions,
from the perspective of contract faculty, democratic procedures must be
in place at all points and levels. In all decision-making, e.g., in
hiring contract faculty and in converting them, the role of merit,
qualifications, and past and potential contributions to the research
and teaching enterprise of the university and to the community beyond
the university must be the primary consideration. Chairs and deans
should fight for our rights. Gender equity in full time faculty ratios
should be a paramount consideration in the conversion process. Women
among us should be treated justly. Working conditions should allow us
time for research (e.g., paid summer research time and paid research
leaves, equivalent to sabbaticals). Our academic freedom should not be
compromised by our nonpermanent status. Salary equity is important for
us. For example, when we do committee work we should be remunerated, as
is the case for you. If let go due to budgetary cuts, we should be
treated fairly in terms of severance. And so on.

Contract faculty are used as "buffers". In the Active Voice
(Oct/Nov'97), Diana Cooper Clark wrote: "The security, professional
life-style, and economic well-being of the comparatively insulated
full-time tenured and tenured-track faculty may depend directly upon
the continued exploitations and disenfranchisement of part-time
faculty...part-time faculty are the buffer. They take care of the
budget surges and shortages." (part-time faculty meaning contract
What kind of rationale requires a "loser" class in order to sustain a
"winner" class? Where is our professional and intellectual integrity?

Accompanying this letter, a summary of issues follows, one which I did
not have time to photocopy for our last meeting (The ideas in this
summary will be adjusted as we go along). Ann asked me for the section
of our collective agreement on severance. It is Article 10.10. You can
find it in the CUPE 3903 website:
( and click on COLLECTIVE
The section dealing with our Affirmative Action is Article 23.



"CUPE 3903 represents approximately 1,800 Unit 1 and Unit 2 members"
(around 800 according to the 1995-1996 "Fact book"), "consisting of
teaching assistants, laboratory demonstrators, markers/graders and
contract faculty."
"...statistics gathered in past years demonstrate the value of our
members to the university. In a study completed in 1987, CUEW/SCTTE
Local 3 members were found to do 45% of the in-class teaching at York
University. Since the study the membership of the Local increased
significantly up to the early 1990's, when budgetary cutbacks caused a
decline in membership (mostly Unit 2). Most of the in-class teaching
done by CUEW/SCTTE members was done by unit 2 members (contract
faculty) who did about 35% of all teaching, but this has dramatically
changed in recent years due to cutbacks. Full-time graduate students
did the other 10% of in-class teaching, but this has increased
significantly due to higher graduate enrollments." (CUPE 3903 Website
"The Members' Manual" in CUPE 3903)

1. In Departments

1.1. Contract Faculty vote

Each department in the Faculty seems free to adopt the policy it sees
fit with respect to the degree to which contract faculty have the right
to vote in department meetings. Chairs should be promoting maximun
contribution by contract faculty in the department, and where this is
not so, they should be taking steps to rectify the situation.

1.2. Departmental Executive Committee

Contract faculty should be able to be elected by their colleagues to
sit in the executive committee of their department.

1.3. Chairs should be promoting conversion
See section 3

1.4. Contract faculty should have, as their full-time colleagues do,
professional expense allowance, to cover in part their travel (when
they get a travel grant to present a paper) and to buy pedagogical
teaching materials related to their courses and research.

1.5. Contract faculty should be able to organize colloquia and to
invite reseachers in their field of research.

1.6. More openness

"...Chairs and the Dean should report openly on the proceedings of the
regular chairs meetings that the Dean holds in the Faculty...We must
therefore have more openness here if there is to be adequate reform in
governance." (Richard Wellen, CUPE research officer)

"We are silenced, institutionally voiceless, regardless of
our accomplishments. We have no say in our professional fate. There is
a caste system of high and low status that does not necessarily reflect
the individual's achievements" (Diana Cooper Clark, Active Voice,

2. Contract Faculty and the Arts Faculty Council

2.1. Current Membership

Contract Faculty have the right to participate in the the life of the
Arts Faculty Council and some do play an important role in its
functioning. For their efforts, they should be entitled to
renumeration, because, unlike for full-time tenure-stream faculty, they
do this work on overload. Currently, it is not a part of their paid
responsibility; it is not required by their contractual obligations.

2.2. Suggested New Membership on the Faculty of Arts Council

There are some categories of CUPE members presently excluded from
participating in Faculty Council. This lacuna should be altered by
inclusion in Faculty Council of representatives of these categories,
2.2.1. Unit 1, teaching assistant (TA)
2.2.2. Tutorial leaders

3. Conversion Issues

We have to recognize that people have worked at York sometimes more
than 20 years as contract faculty, without any promotion or other
reward, and with many disadvantages, e.g., less time for research
compared to their full-time tenured colleagues. This situation can be
rectified, e.g., by considering the following.

3.1. What role does the the Dean of Arts plays in implementing the
conversion program?

We know that he has in many cases discouraged conversions that were
promoted by some chairs. In doing so, the Dean is violating the
collective agreement. The concerned parties are the academic
vice-president and the union (article 23.03.1)
The Dean should actually promote conversions since such appointments
are always cases in which the central administration subsidizes the
Faculty of Arts - and more importantly because when someone is
"converted" it usually means that they are simply being recognized
(finally) for what they are and what they contribute.

3.2. The Faculty of Arts should find a way to maximize the number of


1. Gender equity: Women contract faculty comprise one-half
of total women faculty at York.

2. It is detrimental for the Faculty of Arts to slow down
the pace of conversion because contract faculty are blocked
unnecessarily and regular faculty renewal is compromised.
In 1987-1991, there were more than 6 conversions per year. However,
since 1991, two things have happened:
-a slowing of conversion
-job reduction
"Actually, it is contract faculty renewal that is obstructed when there
are too few conversions."

3.3. Evaluation of Contract Faculty for Conversion

3.3.1. The employment equity survey jointly conducted by management and
the union found the following:

"When asked how their status as part-time, contract teaching faculty
affected their opportunity to obtain a tenure-stream, full-time
position (for those seeking the latter) members answered" with
pessimism (e.g., if more than 10 years of service, 60% negative, only
13% positive).

"The survey also revealed further discrimination against contract
faculty. Of those seeking full-time positions 75% had the
qualifications considered similar to the average entry-level full-time
appointee (1-2 publications) and 50% had qualifications (most with more
than 6 publications) considered close to mid-career full-time
faculty. This is despite much higher teaching loads " (Richard Wellen,
CUPE research officer)

3.3.2. For long service contract faculty (15+ years of service), I
propose that they should be compensated for the damage made to their
career by being automatically converted if they obtained a Ph.D. and
published a few articles in scholarly material (in journals or books).

3.3.3. For long service contract faculty (15+ years of service) who
were not able to start or finish their Ph.D., I propose that a paid
leave of absence be given to them to help them tackle the problem.

3.3.4. As for more recent contract faculty, I propose that if they are
offered a contract after 6 years of service, it should only be in the
tenure stream.

4. Fund for conversion (Collective Agreement, Article 23.04)

4.1. "The fact is that $130,000 is allotted to conversion each year.
Much less than this is normally spent. If the Faculty of Arts has been
able to carry forward underspending from previous years, then some of
this money should be spent on conversion because there is already
accumulated money for conversion specifically." (Richard Wellen, CUPE
research officer) A fund for conversion exists. The Faculty of Arts can
have access to it. Where is this money? "This funding will normally
cover the differential between the starting salary appointment and the
cost of three full course directorships. The Employer shall make
$130,000 available in incentive funding in each year of the Collective
Agreement." (Collective Agreement, p. 80)

4.2. It seems there is a surplus of money, that the faculty budget has
been cut more than needed. The Dean is thinking of spending it for new
appointments (anonymous source). If this supplement exists, it can be
used for the conversion process.

More rationale for conversion:

-See Diana Cooper Clark's article :
<"Equity now" and the Invisible Faculty"> (Active Voice, Oct/Nov '97).

-"York University Contract Faculty positions are being systematically
eliminated despite the numerous years of service by contract faculty,
directly undermining both quality of education, academic morale and
integrity" (the Action Committee for Contract Faculty, the ACCF). The
problem is so big that Linda Briskin, in "Revisioning York" (Active
Voice, June '97), wrote: "We must raise the issue of overload teaching
by YUFA members, and the possibility of CUPE and YUFA joining together
as one union."

-We have no benefits for our children. CUPE is the only union at York
whose children have no tuition waiver.

-Our pension plan started only in 1988. As with full-time faculty, a
good retirement plan is central to us; equity must extend to contract

- Etc...

5. Ombudsman

To find a person outside the university community, with a legal
formation, to advise and direct without prejudice to the unions. For
example perhaps an ex-judge, to whom we can bring complaints that
unions refuses to consider. (Suggestion of a YUFA member)