For Immediate Release 23 October 2013
Social Media Tell Stories of Contract Academic Staff at Wilfrid Laurier University During National ‘Fair Employment Week’
(Waterloo and Brantford, ON – October 21, 2013) – ‘We Teach Laurier’ campaign will highlight the low pay and poor working conditions faced by contract academic staff (CAS) at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in southwestern Ontario during the national “Fair Employment Week” (FEW), October 21-25.
CAS professors on temporary, per-course contracts taught 52 per cent of all students registered in classes, tutorials, labs and seminars in 2012. This is a significant increase from the 38% CAS taught in 2008, according to analysis of University records carried out for the Faculty Association (WLUFA). Their salaries cost only 3.3% of total revenue in 2012.
‘Laurier has been in a situation of generating surpluses and taking money out of the classroom and putting it into capital assets,’ said Dr. Bill Salatka, an accounting professor in the School of Business and Economics.
‘CAS account for just 7.3% of total salary costs in 2012 and yet the Administration has been moving three times as much out of the Unrestricted (Operational) Fund every year for the last three years’, said Salatka, who is also the president of WLUFA.
In March 2012, the Administration paid $68 million for 12 student apartment buildings, which is more than seven times the CAS’s combined annual salaries (around $9 million).
‘The minimal spending on CAS, who are a critical part of the student experience, implies that the educational mission of Laurier is at great risk’, said Salatka.
‘We Teach Laurier’ focuses on raising the public profile of CAS by telling their stories via social media (e.g. weteachlaurier.tumblr.com) and traditional media (e.g. postcards).
WLUFA and the Administration have been negotiating a new collective agreement for CAS since May and will be going into conciliation on Wednesday October 23.
Laurier is recognized as one of the six universities in Canada employing the greatest number of CAS of the 122 universities and colleges represented by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, which started the annual Fair Employment Week in 2001 to raise awareness of CAS issues.