A Tale of Two Professors

Dr. Teechferfude: You know that you’re only part of the university’s supplementary workforce don’t you?


Professor Weery: What do you mean? You mean like CAS? Part-time? No, I’m full-time, tenured; in fact I’m a full Professor.


Dr. Teechferfude: No, no, I don’t mean contract faculty. I’m contract faculty. And it is faculty, not staff; and it certainly isn’t “part-time”. I taught eight courses last year.


Professor Weery: Really! How many are you teaching this year?


Dr. Teechferfude: I don’t know yet.


Professor Weery: You don’t know? But it’s less than two weeks until term starts.


Dr. Teechferfude: Yes, I know. It is often like this. Maybe I won’t be getting any teaching at all this year. But most likely I will get quite a bit; that’s been the case for the last decade anyway.


Professor Weery: Well, there you go then. That’s part-time.


Dr. Teechferfude:  Grr. No, it isn’t. That’s precarity.


Professor Weery: Sorry, I wasn’t trying to insult you; just trying to be accurate.


Dr. Teechferfude: Well, here’s accuracy for you. You are part of a supplementary workforce.


Professor Weery: I still don’t understand what you mean by that?


Dr. Teechferfude: CAS, sessional, adjunct, part-time, whatever implicitly derogatory way you want to refer to us, we are the principal faculty work force in the 21st century University, the main group employed as teachers.


Professor Weery: No, that’s not right. I’m a part of the main faculty group of university employees. You could be gone tomorrow.


Dr. Teechferfude: Well, you are certainly correct about the precarious nature of my employment; but you are also quite wrong about which group is the principal teaching body. We teach a greater proportion of the courses offered and by far the majority of the students.


Professor Weery: So, you’re saying the full time professoriate is a marginal group within the university?


Dr. Teechferfude:  Well, in the future you could easily become so if things keep going in the direction they seem to be heading. But no; I’m not saying that; full-timers are a special group, a special privileged group. It is just that in the new normal for the Neo-liberal University, you are no longer part of the main work force; you are a supplement.



Professor Weery: No, I just can’t accept that. At my university CAS teach only forty percent of the courses.


Dr. Teechferfude: Only forty percent eh?


Professor Weery: Okay, that’s quite a lot. It’s been gradually increasing over the years; but it’s still not the majority of the teaching.


Dr. Teechferfude: The rates vary from institution to institution but forty percent is actually quite a bit below average for North America. According to the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) over seventy percent of all appointments in American higher education are non-tenure track. So, I guess that means that you are probably Canadian.


Professor Weery: Well, yes, I am. And of course things are better here than in the States.


Dr. Teechferfude: I’m Canadian too; and yes, things are better but things aren’t that bloody brilliant for us either. We have health care but that’s just because the government provides it; our job doesn’t provide it. And yes, things are better in many ways for Canadians than Americans; but that just means it’ll take a little longer for things to get as bad here. We are following the twin nightmare paths of the US and the UK. Essentially, we are all on our way to the destruction of decent higher education.


Professor Weery: Sigh. At least I’ll be gone by then.


Dr. Teechferfude: You mean you’re going to retire? We’d get a lot more courses if only people like you would retire. Hurry up then.


Professor Weery: No, I actually meant I’d be dead. I can’t afford to retire. I didn’t start in academia until late in life so I haven’t time to build up a sufficiently decent pension. If I retired it’d be “hello again poverty my old friend”.


Dr. Teechferfude: Well, I’m sorry to hear that. But I don’t have any pension at all! So I can’t feel too bad for you.


Professor Weery: I wouldn’t expect you to. Nor would I expect you to sympathize with my problems in the changing university. You said things would be better if only people like me retired. You’d get more courses. But the more teaching that is done by contract faculty the fewer full-time positions there are. We are not being replaced when we retire. So there will be more employment opportunities for you yes; but that means a greater proportion of my time, or that of those that remain as full-timers, that will taken up with admin. No, don’t say it. Doesn’t the increase in management take the load off of you professors? NO IT DOES NOT! It increases it. They seem to spend their time designing make work schemes for us.!


Dr. Teechferfude: Wow, a flash of real anger. So everything is not green in the full time profs’ garden? Well, well. But I’ll tell you about make work schemes! You applied for your job at your university once right?


Professor Weery: Well, I applied for jobs at other places before . . .


Dr. Teechferfude: Yeah, yeah; but you only applied once for the job you have now. I have been teaching at WLU, as well as some other institutions but that’s not the point here, for ten years. It’s not that I have to apply for my job again every year; no, no, I have to apply separately for nearly every course I teach.  And it’s a full-blown application too; I have to submit a course outline with my application.  So, because I don’t get to actually teach every course I apply for, I have to design a lot of courses that I won’t ever get to teach. Talk about time wasting!


Professor Weery: Yes, I can see that would be very frustrating. Your union should be designing and fighting for a better seniority deal.


Dr. Teechferfude: Huh, you think? But my union is also your union. It’s our union! Except that our union doesn’t do bugger all for me. Well, that’s not entirely true. But they don’t do enough! And they don’t do enough because the full-timers don’t understand that our fight is actually their fight too. They don’t understand that our long-term interest is actually the same as theirs.


Professor Weery: Well, hmm, but as I think I indicated to you earlier I don’t really have a “long term interest.” Whether death or retirement, whichever way it is not going to be that long; and the long term you are talking about . . . well it is to do with a future that doesn’t belong to me.


Dr. Teechferfude: It may not belong to you personally. But what about your children or grandchildren? What about your students?  Are you just a time-server or do you actually care about education? The future of higher education is important; it is important not just as a source of employment to you and me, but to the country, to the world!


Professor Weery: Okay, okay, I get your point. I’ll support you. When are you going on strike?


Dr. Teechferfude: When are you going on strike? When are you going on strike for something other than your pension? When are you going on strike for a change in contract faculty pay and conditions of employment; for the future of higher education?

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Standing with CUPE 926

By Matt Thomas, Library

Tired and a little scared. Those were my feelings as I stood on the sidewalk near 202 Regina, the morning of Friday, July 8th. Tired from standing for so long wearing sandals a little too old for my feet. And a little scared because I’ve never done anything like that before: standing on an “information rally” picket line, letting passersby know about the key issues CUPE 926 custodians and trade workers at Wilfrid Laurier University are concerned about regarding their contract negotiations, delaying people coming in to work and making noise. Sometimes the people we were delaying were a little testy and didn’t control their cars very well. And those Special Constables, though Laurier employees and supposed to help keep me safe, can be a little imposing in their police-like uniforms and police-like powers. It’s not my contract but the custodians and trade workers are my coworkers. And it is my community that’s being affected by whatever comes out of whatever agreement is eventually worked out: the Laurier community of staff, faculty, students, managers and librarians that I work with, and the Waterloo (and Kitchener) community that I and my kids live in.

I’m one of the 20+ librarians who work at Laurier, and, as most librarians do, I care about my library. With this care comes care for the people who work in and around the library and the rest of the university we’re a part of. And not so long ago, the many custodians that took care of the seven floor library I work in were a part of that group of people. For a long time, when I came into work and brought my lunch to the staff room refrigerator, I would see a handful of custodians, already several hours into their shift and taking a much deserved break. I got to know their names, who they were, and hear about their days, and I would invite them to participate in some of the social things we do around the Library. They were a part of the library’s family in my mind. But I don’t see them anymore. There are far fewer custodians in the library now from what I can see, and the building isn’t as clean as a result.

When I heard about Laurier Administration’s plan to increase contracting out of their work, I was more than a little disappointed. There are several important “bottom-line” reasons for why this doesn’t make sense to me, but the most important reason to me is that this pushes an important group of our community out of our community. Fewer people who are taking care of Laurier who are in turn taken care of by Laurier means that Laurier is not as well taken care of. And we can hardly be considered to be “inspiring lives of leadership” if we are following the apparent trend of contracting out some of our responsibilities, or providing an “intimate community environment” if we don’t take care of those most vulnerable in our community, particularly those who take care of that environment.

That’s why I spent my own time standing with CUPE 926 members out on that sidewalk and will continue to do so. I may get tired and sore and hot from standing out there. I may experience a bit of stress, braving the cars that wouldn’t be able to get me while I’m safe in my office or watching our Special Constables furiously scribbling notes as they stand by the picketing crowd. But I don’t want my coworkers, present and future, to worry that their job will be done more cheaply by a company that may or may not treat their workers as well as Laurier can and does. I don’t want my campus to be cleaned by workers who have no personal stake in me or the people around me. I can’t imagine those other workers being able to do as good a job and I can’t imagine them enjoying their work as much. So I will continue to go out when I can, to stand with my coworkers and friends, to hopefully convince Laurier administration’s negotiating team to recognize the value of those people, and to treat them a little better.

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WLUFA Advocate April 2016 4.9

Here’s the latest issue: WLUFA Advocate April 2016 4.9 (PDF)

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WLUFA Meeting & Social

This announcement is from the WLUFA Advocate April 2016 4.9.

WLUFA Annual General
Wednesday, April 20, 1:00 p.m.
Turret  Waterloo Campus

WLUFA Annual Spring
Wine & Cheese Social and Retiree Recognition
Wednesday, April 20, 4:00 p.m.
Hawk’s Nest  Waterloo Campus

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Thank You!

This announcement is from the WLUFA Advocate April 2016 4.9.

Thank you and congratulations to all the students, staff, faculty and other community members who worked so hard to stop the statue project from going ahead.

WLUFA Advocate April 2016 4


Many thanks also to this year’s members of the Communications Committee—Sue Ferguson (Director), Kimberly Ellis-Hale (Officer), Anne-Marie Allison, Kari Brozowski, Azim Essaji and Mat-thew Thomas—for helping WLUFA Members stay in touch with workplace issues and politics. The committee’s annual report will be available at the WLUFA AGM on April 20.


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Did you know that the WLUFA Advocate also hosts a blog?

This announcement is from the WLUFA Advocate April 2016 4.9.

We do! We use it to publish articles and announcements that we want to get to you as soon as possible, and the occasional article that’s too long to include in the regular issues of the Advocate. If you’ve not yet visited the blog, or forgotten it exists, please check it out.

This year’s blog posts include:

• Two letters to President Blouw—one by an alumnus, the other by a labour studies expert—asking him to withdraw his plans to outsource custodial services in the new buildings on the Waterloo campus.

• A Canadian University Teachers Association (CAUT) job posting for a Professional Office position.

• A summary of the Divestment campaign letter that urges President Blouw’s Administration to take steps to protect Laurier’s investment “portfolio against a carbon-constrained future and to remove the social license of fossil fuel companies to damage the climate any more than they have already done.”

• Past issues of the Advocate

• Contract Faculty Bargaining Survey results

• The results of our “Whaddya Say, John A?” contest

You can find the blog by visiting the WLUFA web page and clicking on the WLUFA Advocate blog icon in our list of social media sites at the bottom right-hand side of your screen. Or click on the larger WLUFA Newsletter icon on the left-hand side of the screen, and follow the links.

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Visit our Contract Faculty Negotiations 2016 webpage

This announcement is from the WLUFA Advocate April 2016 4.9.

As WLUFA heads into Negotiations with the Administration for a new Part-time Contract Academic Staff and Part-time Librarians Collective Agreement, we want to keep you informed of all the issues. Take some time to wander through the site, where you’ll find news and background about what’s going on at the bargaining table, and the issues Contract Faculty are facing at Laurier and beyond. We encourage you to send in any questions to wlufa@wlu.ca you may want answered, and to download posters and other mate-rials related to campaigns we’re supporting. Let us know what else you’d like to see there!

WLUFA Advocate April 2016 4

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