February 06, 2016 - 9:19 AM
With 1,200 employees, Thompson Rivers University is Kamloops' fourth largest employer. Getting a new collective agreement isn't just important for its faculty but many others as well.
The faculty's union has been without a collective agreement for almost a year. There are many issues, but one key issue is that sessional faculty are being used more and more to teach. Sessionals do the same work but for far, far lower wages, no benefits, no holidays, and no job security. The faculty's union wants better conditions for TRU's sessionals, its least well-off faculty members.
Universities rely on excellent teachers to deliver courses. Sometimes they hire full-time, tenure or tenure track faculty. More and more, it is sessionals who teach, not only at TRU, but across Canada and North America. Low paid, sessionals are sometimes by young academics, but just as often older faculty who go from tenuous contract to contract.
It will be interesting to see how TRUFA members vote on the proposed agreement. A core issue for the faculty union is sessionals wages and benefits. Without meaningful offerings for that, it's hard to see how the proposed contract can be accepted.
Students are legitimately concerned about the possibility of a strike. The university must be worried as well since it could seriously harm its reputation especially with international students. Businesses in the community who rely on TRU faculty wages may be worried as well.
If faculty reject the proposed deal, a strike may be the next step. Faculty at TRU have never gone on strike, so if they do strike it will be because the don't think they have any other options.
It will be interesting to see if the proposed contract will be accepted or not.
Otherwise, a strike might be the next step.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016