By Arielle Follett
Algonquin’s faculty union, Local 415, is continuing to fight for full-time faculty at the college.
For years, the union has grieved to management that the college is not prioritizing the hiring of full-time faculty, a priority the college has agreed to in multiple collective agreements.
The union also claims that the college does not voluntarily staff replacements or additional staff except on an occasional basis.
“Most hiring at the college happens due to a grievance on the Local’s part,” said first vice president of the union Jack Wilson. “It almost always has to go through arbitration as well, which is their way of drawing out hiring and saving money on wages. It’s in the college’s financial interest to drag it out.”
In the union’s newsletter, Local Lines, every grievance is outlined. Each issue includes multiple “failure to replace” and “failure to give preference to full-time positions” inside.
The college’s argument for not hiring more full-time faculty is that part-time faculty’s level of knowledge in their field is more beneficial for students. The majority of part-time faculty have or currently work in the field in which they teach, bringing valuable current experience into the classroom.
“For programs with highly specialized curriculum, that may be the case but that’s not applicable for every program,” Wilson said.
Wilson worries about when the time comes to choose between the two jobs.
“When a part-time professor is called away to their full-time job, they have to cancel classrooms and that just isn’t beneficial to students,” he said. “More full-time faculty equals more stability, more continuity and a better student experience.”
In the college’s most recent annual budget, 580 full-time positions were accounted for in the academic portion of the college for 2012 to 2013. Fifteen additional full-time academic positions were budgeted for in the following year.
According to the union, the college filled less than five of those positions.
The union aren’t the only people that care about full-time faculty hiring however. According to Wilson, the union have had chairs of departments come to the union looking for help with grieving the lack of full-time faculty in the respective programs.
“It’s out of their hands,” he said. “They aren’t protected by a union so they won’t go at risk by bringing it up.”
The Times looked for comment from department chairs and vice president of human resources, Gerry Barker. All deferred comment to communications officer, Phil Gaudreau.
“The college takes its obligation to hire full-time faculty positions very seriously, as it does for all its obligations under the collective agreement,” Gaudreau said. “This is a complex subject and can be characterized in many different ways, showing different views of a complicated topic. It would not be appropriate for the college to comment further, given that these are labour-management discussions which take place at the provincial-system level.”
The union does not know how to fix this issue.
“Other than continually grieving the lack of full-time faculty and following each case through to arbitration, we aren’t aware of any other way to get the college to hire,” Wilson said.
“It’s just very frustrating for the part-time faculty,” he continued. “They put in so many years, most of them hoping to eventually secure a full-time position and they’re not getting it. That’s how you lose good people. They just can’t afford to wait.”