Part-time/Sessional Faculty Organizing Drive

Volume 27, Issue 5
May 2017

Bob Bolf, President, OPSEU Local 562


You may have heard that there is a part-time and sessional faculty organizing campaign being conducted at Humber and all other Ontario colleges.

OPSEU is continuing its union certification efforts and will be looking for more part-time and sessional faculty to sign cards. When a sufficient number of cards have been signed, the Ontario Labour Board will schedule a certification vote.

Part-time and sessional faculty are not included in the collective agreement that covers full-time and partial-load faculty. They have no collective agreement whatsoever. The reason for this is that when our collective agreement was first negotiated (in the 1960s), there were few, if any, part-time and sessional faculty. Since then, the colleges have taken advantage of this anomaly and have migrated more work to part-time and sessional faculty in order to save costs and have more power and control over these precariously employed workers. (Please see my other article “College is not supporting contract faculty organizing drive” which explains the college’s financial incentive for doing this).

Last month, the college communicated with part-time and sessional faculty clearly stating that the college does not support the organizing campaign (no reasons were given) and that to seek further clarification, faculty were to talk to their managers.

To quote from management’s memo…

“…The presence of union organizers on our campuses or the use of college resources such as our email to support the union campaign may be misunderstood as college support for the organizing activity. This is not the case. The college does not support or endorse this activity. It is up to individual employees to make their own decisions concerning whether or not to be represented by a union…”

This is true. The college does not support the unionization drive for part-time and sessional faculty. Establishing terms and conditions of employment, setting standard hourly rates, adding health and dental benefits, etc. are all costs that management does not want to incur.

As the college suggests, it is up to you to decide whether or not you want to be represented by the faculty union. In order to do this, you need to be aware of the differences between part-time faculty (6 teaching hours or less a week), sessional faculty (more than 12 teaching hours a week) and partial-load faculty (7-12 teaching hours a week).

Employment Condition Part-time/Sessional (not unionized) Partial-Load (unionized)
Pay rate About 2/3 of partial-load pay Based on full-time pay rate
Health Benefits None Employer paid
Job Security None Some language in the collective agreement giving preference to partial-load faculty.

Part-time and sessional faculty have the same credentials as partial-load and full-time faculty. Part-time and sessional faculty teach the same courses as partial-load and full-time faculty, yet get paid less and have less benefits. Your faculty union sees this as an unfair situation.

The college does not support the unionization drive because it is able to save a lot of money by keeping a significant portion of faculty non-unionized. And yet, Humber College had an operating surplus of $29.6 million last year. So how come it can’t afford to treat part-time and sessional faculty equitably?

If you were a part-time or sessional faculty during the winter 2017 term and would like to sign a card indicating that you want OPSEU to represent you, please let us know at or drop by the faculty union office in K216 at the North campus.