Precarious work deeply impacts people’s lives, health and well-being, and ultimately, their communities. That’s the number one thing CUPE heard in a series of town halls on precarious work in the post-secondary sector held earlier this year.
In a new report, CUPE outlines the key lessons we heard from our members and our allies. These include important distinctions about what precarious work looks like on campuses today, such as the reality that precarious work is not just about filling temporary vacancies or short-term roles: some temporary employees have been in their positions for years and have even risen to the rank of supervisor or department chair.
Furthermore, our report reveals, more schools are using students for labour without offering adequate wages or protection. In particular, reliance on undergraduates to provide academic and support work is growing.
The growing reliance of post-secondary institutions on precarious work has serious consequences for workers. Precarious workers have higher levels of stress, greater difficulty defending their rights, limited ability to make life choices that many of us take for granted, and lower access to government programs and services. Precarity also makes it harder for workers to be good at their job, as well as making it harder for other workers to do their jobs.
Our report concludes with a list of ways that CUPE National, CUPE locals, CUPE members, and our allies can fight back against precarious work. Strategies include organizing, collective bargaining, and getting involved in politics.
CUPE will continue to make fighting precarious work a priority and to call on universities and colleges to make every post-secondary job a respectable job.