Academic precarity and academic freedom Reply

 

Bob Hanke

I would like to echo Prof. Emeritus J..D. Wood’s comment on a previous post by adding a ‘bottom up’ perspective on governance and academic freedom. While the faculty has mobilized and raised its voice against the CGI deal, this deal is only the tip of the iceberg of academic governance and freedom.

York is currently in collective bargaining with CUPE Local 3903, including contract faculty, and pushing a deal for the ‘flexibility’ of so-called ‘part time’ contract faculty that will reinforce contingent inequity. Before the strike mandate vote, they were seeking to reduce the CUPE-YUFA ratified Affirmative Action Conversion Program from 2 positions a year over 3 years to 1 — a 50% cut.

After the strike mandate vote, the Employer’s bargaining team took this concession off the table. At this writing, they are only offering 5 positions over 3 years, which represents more than a 75% cut from the 2005-2008 collective agreement There is money to make another 30 “strategic” YUFA faculty appointments but not to hire qualified tenuous-track faculty in the conversion pool.

In “University was right to cancel flawed deal,” Professor Van Harten and Wood describe in detail how the GIGI deal undermines academic freedom (Toronto Star, April 5, 2012). Academic precarity undermines academic freedom every time a contract faculty member signs a per-course, short term, nonrenewable contract with York. The research and analysis of how these ‘deals’ represent a double threat to academic governance and freedom has already been presented in a 2009 YUFA subcommittee report on the Casualization of Academic Labour at York University. To read a recent viewpoint on how everyday contract faculty underepresentation in governance is linked to “stunted” academic freedom,” see: “Contract faculty should agitate for representation: How and why one professor created a contract faculty committee“, by Kane Faucher (University Affairs, April 2, 2012).

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