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Sessional instructors at the University of Toronto, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)  local 3902, Unit 3, will be in a legal strike position on Monday November 9.

The part-time lecturers and instructors, most of whom hold PhDs, teach 30 per cent of undergraduate courses at U of T.

Not only do we carry a large part of the teaching load at the university,” said Dr. Leslie Jermyn, spokesperson for the Union’s bargaining team.  “On average, our members earn a mere $15,000 a year.”

Issues in the dispute include wages, job security, and support for scholarly activity and service.

When we talk about job security, we mean a better system of hiring sessionals so that our members don’t have to reapply for their jobs every four to eight months,” Jermyn continued.  “This is neither tenure, nor a permanent appointment, but would allow senior sessionals some security and the ability to better plan their working and financial lives.”

The issue of recognition is extremely important to sessionals.  “We believe that scholarly activity, service, and teaching go hand in hand - you can’t be an effective university teacher without continuing scholarly activity and engaging in professional development,” Jermyn said.

The media conference where the strike date was announced, also marked Fair Employment Week, a North-America wide event highlighting the increasing reliance on contract faculty and the inequities this creates.

On wages, CUPE 3902 seeks to fix the inequity between U of T sessionals and their peers across the GTA.  In addition to teaching undergraduate courses at U of T they also staff Writing Centres, teach at the Faculty of Music, and work as Sessional Instructional Assistants (non-student Teaching Assistants).