Fair access to health benefits

Volume 27, Issue 5
May 2017

Janet Porter, Chief Steward, OPSEU Local 562


Source: PsYchotic Monkey, Facebook


Part-time faculty have no health benefits during their employment at Humber. None. Zippo. Nada.

Partial-load faculty only have health benefits from the day of their first class to the end of the month in which their last class occurs. Less than 30 per cent of the college’s faculty are full-timers; the college provides full health benefits to only 30 per cent of the college’s academic workforce.

Years ago, one Sunday morning, I brunched at a fancy hotel in New Jersey. We were served by a waiter in his twenties whose gracious demeanor was marred by a set of teeth that were in incredibly bad shape. It felt grossly inappropriate to be benefiting from such privilege in light of the lack of dental health of this worker. A significant number of children and young people in the U.S. do not have access to medical insurance. The lack of dental health insurance is even more pronounced. Restricted access to dental benefits in childhood can create health problems for entire adult life spans.

The colleges (under the umbrella group called the College Employer Council) are actively resisting and impeding the organization of part-time faculty. Clearly, it is not in the employers’ interest to incur more costs but I feel that the objection is also deeply political and ideological. Since the Council operates as the Ontario government’s surrogate with respect to employment negotiations, effectively it is the Ontario government’s de facto policy to have a significant number of college faculty without the benefits of union presentation and without full health benefits. The impact of not being unionized is felt every day by our part-time faculty. The impact of the lack of full health benefits is felt every day by all contract faculty, and some of the effects are being felt by their children.