I am a professor. I work at Canadore College.
While I love my job as a Professor, the conditions under which I find myself working (contract to contract) are less than ideal.
Living at or below the poverty line means that most of my income from the college goes to basic living expenses. With no pension plan and no health benefits, how am I supposed to set aside money for my so-called retirement years, let alone afford any unforeseen medical expenses?
Better working conditions for me (full-time position, health benefits, pension plan) would help remove the financial worry about how to make ends meet, and let me truly focus on my teaching.
The spin-off effect of my (and others) precarious work is that I am not supporting our Canadian economy as I used to. I no longer eat out at restaurants or go to movies, I no longer buy new clothes at retail stores but instead buy used clothes from Value Village or Salvation Army. My vehicle is getting older (12 years old) and a new vehicle purchase is not in the future. I have no future home buying plans, and will continue to rent.
I see the college investing in their management personnel and infrastructure, but have not seen any real commitment to hiring and retaining full-time faculty. Instead, they are abusing what was intended to be a temporary measure and using it for their own financial gain.
Job security (full-time position) would mean that the college is investing not only in me as a professor, but in the future of quality education.
Equal pay for equal work!
What are the challenges you face in your work?
The biggest challenge that I find I face in my work is isolation.
I have wonderful faculty colleagues both in my department and from other programs, but much of what I do is done individually.
As a contract Professor, I am not permitted to get involved in curriculum development (must follow the course outlines that are provided to me), do not have a say in textbook selection, rarely invited to departmental meetings, and receive very little feedback on my performance.
Thus, I feel I have no real voice into how the educational mandate of the college is carried out. I feel as though I am simply a replaceable cog in the machine. I do not feel valued.
The other big challenge is performing work that is not paid (or underpaid if you go by my hourly contract rate). Paying for face-to-face teaching time and then stipulating that all other academic responsibilities are to be covered under this hourly rate seriously diminishes all the work that goes into successfully running courses.
Course development (some of which I have done from scratch) and maintenance (keeping up with current research) is time consuming, as is marking of tests and assignments, student contact (whether in person or my email), upkeep of online resources, and administrative functions.
When I factor these activities in, I am likely making just over the provincial minimum wage. Yet my full-time, salaried colleagues are well compensated for these activities and responsibilities.
Equal pay for equal work!
What would job security and better working conditions mean to you?
Can you imagine going to work only 4 months at a time? Not knowing whether or not you would have work at the end of those 4 months.
Can you imagine your rate of pay fluctuating every 4 months? Not knowing whether or not you will be paid as a part-time, partial load or sessional professor?
Can you imagine having the same academic credentials and doing almost the same work as full-time colleagues and being paid substantially less? Some of my colleagues are on the so-called Sunshine List making over $100,000
Can you imagine working for an employer who has an opportunity to fill full-time positions that become vacant (i.e., through retirements), yet chooses to only hire contract employees?
I don't need to imagine these scenarios, I am living it!