APTPUO cites “second class” professor status, need for “greater equality”

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) will hold a Special General Assembly to vote on going on strike.

According to the APTPUO’s website, the association’s collective agreement with the U of O expired on Aug. 31, 2016. Since then, the association’s bargaining team has held over 14 meetings with the university, according to Jean-Sébastien Daoust, labour relations advisor for the APTPUO in a telephone call with the Fulcrum. However, both parties have still been unable to come to an agreement.

“A strong strike vote will not necessarily mean that part-time professors at the University of Ottawa will go on strike,” reads a bargaining update from Sept. 22 on the association’s website, which Daoust confirmed as containing the most recent information. “Rather, it will help the APTPUO bargaining team negotiate a fair deal with the University.”

The association outlines that part-time professors, who account for 50 per cent of the university’s teaching staff, receive “second class” status, such as through limited benefits and unstable job security.

“Workload has increased significantly over the years without additional compensation for unpaid work such as grade appeals and letters of reference,” according to the APTPUO. The website outlines that part-time professors have not received compensation for certain unpaid work for over a decade. It continues that non-unionized language professors and part-time professors in the Faculty of Law are paid just over half the salary of unionized part-time professors, without benefits or protections.

Should the association go on strike, part-time professors would reduce their hours or stop working entirely. “If more than half of the teaching staff on campus stops teaching and holding office hours, the impact on the campus community is significant, particularly for students and teaching assistants,” reads a document by the APTPUO entitled, ‘Why Care.’

The website lists other areas where part-time professors at the university are at a disadvantage, such as in the hiring process, representation on governing bodies of the university (e.g., the Senate and faculty councils), and bonuses and vacation pay.

The association is advocating for “greater equality with (their) full-time counterparts.” Until then, the APTPUO has requested that the provincial government appoint a conciliator to help the association come to a fair agreement with the U of O.

“The University of Ottawa is committed to negotiations with the APTPUO and is optimistic that a fair settlement can be reached,” wrote Néomi Duval, manager of the U of O’s media relations in an email to the Fulcrum.

According to the APTPUO, “part-time professors are aware of the consequences of (a strike) and we hope wholeheartedly that the University will put in the required effort to offer better working conditions to its professoral (sic) staff and, in so doing, improve the quality of teaching at the University of Ottawa.”