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Adjunct professors at eye of York labour storm

Lykke de la Cour gets up weekdays at 4 a.m. She finds she writes her best lectures then; she’s too tired at night.

Lykke de la Cour gets up weekdays at 4 a.m. She finds she writes her best lectures then; she’s too tired at night.

She knows this from preparing hundreds of lectures over the past 15 years for more than 20 courses at York University about women and the disabled and health and law.

To her students, she is “Professor” de la Cour, but she is not a fully minted prof. Officially, she is an “adjunct professor” and belongs to York’s booming ranks of faculty who have no tenure or long-term contracts. Instead, they must reapply for short-term contracts each January and wait till June to learn which courses they will teach in the fall.

Suddenly, they are at the eye of York’s labour storm. Their bid for more job security is an issue steaming on the front burner. And their teaching presence — they already run more than half of undergraduate classes and York admits to relying more and more on these less costly part-time instructors — is key to re-starting the campus engine.

They will be among 3,340 workers belonging to the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 that head today and tomorrow to a Downsview hotel to vote on York’s latest offer in a secret ballot run by the Ontario labour ministry.

Jordy Cummings, a York graduate assistant, predicted union members will soundly reject the offer.

“Hopefully, then we can get back to bargaining and (the university) will realize that it’s time to get serious,” he said.

 
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