Instructors, lab demonstrators and teaching assistants (TAs) at Brock University are taking exception to the university’s recognition as a top employer in the region. Brock University was recently named one of the top employers in the Hamilton-Niagara Region for 2016. But for the TAs, lab demonstrators and contract instructors who do much of the teaching, employment at Brock University is characterized by poverty wages, little job security, and few benefits.

CUPE 4207, which represents Brock University TAs, lab demonstrators and contract instructors, is calling attention to this hypocrisy through an ad campaign titled, ‘Both Sides of Brock.’ “We definitely see both sides of Brock here. We see high paid administrators that have stable jobs and great benefits packages, but that’s not the reality for a lot of workers at the university,” said Phil Wachel, President of CUPE 4207. “When you read the online profile that promotes Brock as a top employer, none of it applies to TAs, lab demonstrators and contract instructors. It’s as if we work at a different place.”

TAs, lab demonstrators and contract instructors at Brock are among the lowest paid in the province, they have little job security and must apply for their job up to three times per year. They are currently in bargaining with the university for a collective agreement that seeks to address poverty wages, job insecurity, and the lack of benefits.

‘Both Sides of Brock’ takes the language that the university has used in its self-promotion as a top employer and places it alongside descriptions of the working conditions of Brock University TAs, lab demonstrators and contract instructors.

“We just want to raise awareness that this feel-good story doesn’t apply to everyone at Brock. We want Brock to be a top employer in the region, but we want it to be a top employer for everyone that works here,” said Wachel. “Students and the public should be aware of our working conditions because a lot of people get recruited to the university through public relations campaigns like this, but our working conditions are students’ learning conditions, and many of them who pursue a career in academia will work under whatever contract we negotiate now.”

As of the launch of the campaign, CUPE 4207 and Brock University were continuing negotiations with the assistance of a provincially-appointed mediator.