PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – A fair contract that reflects the value and dedication of the University’s Contract Faculty is the only way to ensure high-quality education at Trent, says the representative for the University’s academic workers.
“We know – and students know – that academic workers are key to students’ success at Trent,” says Stephen Horner, a course instructor and President of Local 3908 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“But even after seven months spent in negotiations, the university refuses to take seriously the issues that affect our ability to provide the highest quality of education.”
The union represents some 300 academic workers at Trent, including course instructors, clinical instructors, markers, tutorial leaders, workshop leaders, academic counsellors, academic skills counsellors, and lab demonstrators.
“We are proud of the enormous diversity and range of qualifications that we bring to teaching at Trent,” said Horner. “Our members are highly committed to the quality of students’ education, but the university refuses to deal with the workload issues that make it difficult to maintain and nurture that level of dedication. Instead, it chooses to risk a strike by proposing a wage freeze and major concessions for a vital group of workers.”
CUPE Instructors deliver between 25 and 30 per cent of the courses taught at Trent, but they are among the lowest-paid workers on campus, without access to the university’s health or pension plans. They are also subject to the pressures of precarious work that requires them to reapply for their jobs each semester.
“Contract negotiations are an opportunity to deal with issues that affect both students and workers,” said Horner. “Manageable workloads allow faculty to give personal attention to students, and to provide more meaningful and timely feedback on their work. Modest – and affordable – improvements to wages and benefits will reduce staff turnover and give students more continuity in their instruction.”
Earlier this month, workers delivered a 92 per cent strike mandate. The union is in a legal strike position at 12:01 a.m. on March 28.
“We are very concerned that a strike at this time would create enormous stress for students, as we enter the final weeks of class and the exam period. Our members want to be in the classroom teaching, and the bargaining team is working hard to reach an agreement with the employer,” concluded Horner.
For more information, contact
Steve Horner, President, CUPE 3908, 705-313-2873
Grant Darling, CUPE National Representative, 705-743-0600 ext. 23
Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 905-379-3999 ext. 240 or 416-206-5609