Letter to the Editor: A Top Employer?

By now, most of the Brock University community has heard that Brock made the list of Hamilton-Niagara’s Top Employers, an annual competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. For some employees of the university, this rings true and I am happy for them.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for members of the largest employee group on campus:  frontline academic staff who work as Sessional Instructors, Teaching Assistants, Lab Demonstrators, Marker-Graders and Course Coordinators. They are represented by a labour union, CUPE 4207, and comprise one of the three units of the local:  Unit 1.

A common theme among these Academic Workers is that they take pride in their work and that they love to teach and help students in their academic pursuits. Another commonality is that they share precarious working conditions as employees of the university.

Here are some of the most pressing issues members of Unit 1 face:

Payment for Statutory Holidays (such as Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day) for this employee group is non-existent. Payment for Stat Holidays is a basic provision under the Employment Standards Act.

A Top Employer?

Wages for Teaching Assistants at Brock are well below the provincial average for university TAs. On average, Brock’s Teaching Assistants make about $5 less per hour than TAs at other Ontario universities. Similarly, Sessional Instructors are paid well below the provincial average.

A Top Employer?

The only benefit provided to non-student members is access to a meager dental fund. Full-time students who work as TAs are ineligible to access the fund.

A Top Employer?

Did you ever notice that one of your Teaching Assistants does not have weekly office hours on campus? Some Teaching Assistants are directed to not have weekly office hours as a way to avoid giving them office space.

A Top Employer?

Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This employee group is currently in negotiations with the university to address these (and other) items. Want to stay updated? Go to http://cupe4207bargaining.ca/  for regular updates.

Let’s make Brock a Top Employer for ALL!

 -Phil Wachel, CUPE 4207 President

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