MetroNews: MacEwan Sessional faculty celebrate vote

Two new resolutions passed at Edmonton university will level the playing field, instructors say.

– Kevin Maimann for MetroNews, “‘Tremendous change of mood’: MacEwan sessional instructors celebrate vote

[This article is no longer available online after thestar.com absorbed the former metronews.ca website, so we have copied the original text of Maimann’s article below. -MUSSC]

MacEwan University’s sessional instructors increased their bargaining power in a Wednesday vote, after some felt shortchanged by a labour agreement that was passed without their input.

In June, the university ratified a two-year labour agreement without the votes of most sessionals, who were cut out from participating because they were not officially teaching during the summer semester.

Some were left taking paycuts as a result.

A vote organized by sessionals Wednesday passed two resolutions ensuring that won’t happen again.

“It feels like a different campus today,” said MacEwan sessional instructor Marco Katz.

“It really just felt like people got together and stood together for an issue of fairness. And wow, how often do we get to see that?”

The first resolution states sessionals can run for the board on the same basis as any other Faculty Association member, whereas they were previously limited for two of the 14 seats.

The second resolution makes sessionals official members for a calendar year after their contracts expire, whereas they were previously only regarded as members during the semester they were teaching.

Katz and other sessional instructors did the legwork to get out word about Wednesday’s vote, spreading leaflets, flyers and fact sheets around campus.

“Unlike the faculty association, we don’t have a budget, we don’t have member dues. So basically I was in the photocopying office paying my own money to get this material out to our members,” Katz said.

The CN Theatre was packed on the afternoon of the vote.

Roughly 150 staff members, including continuing instructors, librarians and other staff members, voted on each resolution, with more than 100 voting in favour of each. At least two-thirds support was needed to pass each resolution.

“We have a campus where we have demonstrated that we will stand up for ourselves, and our continuing colleagues have demonstrated that they will stand up for us as well,” Katz said. “And that in itself is a tremendous change of mood.”

The labour agreement reached in June boosted pay for some sessional instructors and added new benefits for others, but Katz said it also resulted in pay cuts for roughly 25 per cent of them.

That vote passed 223-126.

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