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A new study comparing the teaching load and salaries of sessional lecturers and faculty at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières (UQTR) shows that sessional lecturers earn 72 per cent less for the same teaching load.

The study, conducted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec (IRIR-ISQ), demonstrates that lecturers have lost $450 million in wages over the past ten years as a result of this inequity.

“For the past 15 years, sessional lecturers at the UQTR have argued that they are underpaid, used as a pool of cheap labour,” said Robert Bellerose, president of CUPE 2661 that represents lecturers at the university.

“The issue has been raised in each round of collective bargaining. But this is the first time their claims have been validated by an independent study.”

“For 20 years, no university administration has been willing to acknowledge the gap in pay between lecturers and regular professors, a gap that the IRIR-ISQ researchers quantify at 71.5 per cent for the same teaching load,” he said.

Bellerose discounts the myth that lecturers are only temporary, teaching a course or two to supplement their regular income. And he points out that even among those who work as occasional lecturers, they’re still entitled to full recognition of the value of their work. A teaching load is the same, whether you’re a lecturer or a regular professor.

He points out too that “many people wrongly believe that lecturers have some kind of recognition of their seniority when tenured jobs become available. It simply isn’t true. Last year the UQAM refused to hire a lecturer who had taught there for 15 years.”

“The majority of lecturers work for the same institution for years and often have to wait until the very end of a session to know what the next one will be like, whether they’ll have work, and how many hours,” said Bellrose. “This is an anomaly we want to see corrected through collective bargaining.”

The study was commissioned as part of a settlement for a 40-day strike in 1996. Sessionals agreed to a wage freeze in exchange for this study, intended to guide the parties in the next round of negotiations.

“Lecturers paid dearly for this study and they will make sure it doesn’t wind up collecting dust,” said Bellerose.