Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why Shoukri is an asshole.

See this video, especially the end when York President Shoukri ran from the room and refused to talk to CUPE 3903 members. What a pompous, frightened little twit:


Jim said...

Why is CUPE so militant at York? I've spoken to contract faculty at Laurentian, U of T and Queen's. They all say that the contract faculty job provides them with flexible positions at good salaries. What is the difference at York? Why are people punching each other?

Chet Scoville said...

If you're on a contract, by definition you don't get a "salary." That's a different class of worker.

ADHR said...

For Laurentian and Queen's, the answer should be obvious: it's a lot more expensive to live in Toronto than Kingston or Sudbury (or surrounding environs), so what's a good salary there is not a good salary here.

U of T, AFAIK, doesn't abuse contract faculty the way York does. I could be wrong on how I'm reading this, but I suspect it's the Canadian analogue of the difference between a public research university and a state university. The former -- a place like Pitt or U of T or UWO -- has proportionally more full-time faculty and devotes more money to maintaining those positions. So, contract faculty tend to be used (not actually are used, but tend to be) as they are intended to be: short-term hires to cover momentary gaps in the ability of the full-time faculty to teach the courses that are on offer. (They also tend to be treated better in smaller ways. At UWO, I got access to a brand-new computer, an office I could lock and thus store my stuff in, and keys to the main building so I could access my office after hours. At York, I might be allowed to borrow someone else's office, and I can only use it when a secretary is around.)

The latter -- a place like Penn State or SUNY or York -- focuses more on teaching, and has proportionally fewer full-time faculty. They also use more contract faculty to cover their teaching burdens; indeed, contract faculty become de facto full-time faculty, as they keep being brought back, year after year, to teach the same essential courses. However, York is failing to recognize the way it's organized itself as an institution, and will not take seriously the suggestion that it create full-time teaching (rather than research plus teaching) positions. (These exist at some US community colleges, I've heard.) It also will not take seriously the suggestion that it put more money into full-time faculty positions and thus move to a more research-oriented model.

Similar points can be made about TAs. Being a TA at Queen's or Laurentian requires less money than at York or U of T; U of T, AFAIK, provides scholarships/bursaries on top of funding provided through TAships. York pays slightly more than a TAship at a place like Laurentian or Queen's, but doesn't follow the U of T route in providing a guarantee of funding beyond a TAship. So, the overall funding package is inadequate and the administration refuses to recognize or deal with that in any substantial way.

When you're facing that kind of institutional intransigence, it's hard not to be militant.

ADHR said...


Surely that depends on how you read the word "salary", doesn't it? It's not an hourly wage, really (as contract faculty don't submit timecards). Trent likes to use the word "stipend", but I think that's their own unique institutional preference.

Chet Scoville said...

Well, usually a salary is defined as payment made on a regular basis as part of a continuing contract. A wage is paid by hour, job, or other unit. Since most contract faculty are paid by the course, that would generally count as a wage not a salary.

ADHR said...

I see what you mean. I suppose we really do need another word like "stipend" to capture that contract faculty aren't paid an hourly wage, or piece rate, nor an ongoing/continuing salary.