University of Toronto Sign - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:University_of_Toronto_Sign.jpgContract instructors at University of Toronto’s New College are enjoying new job security, pension and other benefits as several provisions in their historic first collective agreement come into force this week.

The group includes language and academic skill instructors. Some work year-round in the International Foundations Program (IFP) and others work summers in the International Summer Academy (ISA). Three years ago, the group voted overwhelmingly to join CUPE 3902, and finished negotiating their first collective agreement with the employer in January.

CUPE 3902 enthusiastically welcomes the instructors in the International Foundations Program and the International Summer Academy at U of T. We are inspired by their efforts and achievements,” says CUPE 3902 Chair, Amy Conwell. “These members were highly organized throughout the process, which gave their bargaining team the power they needed to achieve this momentous victory.”

The new contract includes a number of historic gains, including job security for year-round IFP instructors, who previously had to re-apply for their jobs every year. The IFP instructors now have a provision that will allow them to keep teaching their courses without the constant threat of not having their contracts renewed. IFP instructors also now enjoy a health plan and a retirement savings plan, amongst other benefits. Summer instructors, who teach on one-month contracts, also made important gains in job security.

Negotiations with the University of Toronto spanned a period of 7 months, which included a strike vote of 93 per cent in December. The parties were able to come to an agreement, which was ratified in January. 

Dan Brielmaier, a member of Unit 6, reflects on the significance of the gains made, saying, “Some of our members have taught in these programs for years but had no idea if they would be asked to come back each year – it simply put us in a constant state of precarity and uncertainty”. 

CUPE 3902 recognizes that most contract academic workers at the University of Toronto have limited access to job security and continuity.

“Precarity is the norm in higher education across job categories and institutions, but it doesn’t have to be our future!” adds Conwell.