WLUFA/CAS Advocate, Vol. 1, Issue 4, April 2013
The April 2013 newsletter of the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association includes numerous misleading and inaccurate statements. In response, the University provides the following statement to correct, clarify and address certain key assertions.
CAS members are valued
The University would like to emphasize that it values its Contract Academic Staff and the contribution they make to the quality of teaching at Laurier.
Number of courses taught by CAS
Under the collective agreement for full-time faculty, the university is required to report the number of courses taught by CAS members each year. Using the language and course definitions agreed to by WLUFA, CAS members taught 34.61 per cent of the courses offered by Laurier in the 2011-12 academic year, not 45 per cent as reported in the WLUFA newsletter. It should also be noted that under the contract for full-time faculty, WLUFA agreed that the University could employ CAS members to teach up to 35 per cent of courses offered in an academic year.
Top 6 in Canada
The WLUFA newsletter states that Laurier is among six higher-education institutions in Canada employing the largest numbers of CAS members. The University questions the validity of this assertion. Universities across the province employ contract and/or part-time academic staff in a variety of capacities, often using different terminology. There is no clear or consistent way to accurately compare such positions across all universities in the province. A working group of the Council of Ontario Universities has discussed this issue but an accurate method for identifying and comparing such positions has yet to be identified.
Laurier’s CAS wages are competitive compared to other Ontario universities. Laurier ranks seven out of 19 for non-seniority undergrad base stipends (including four per cent in lieu of vacation pay). Among our comparator group (York, Waterloo, Toronto, Guelph, McMaster, Western, Brock and Ryerson), Laurier ranks fifth for base stipends.
Wages and Financial Statements
An article in the WLUFA newsletter looks at CAS wage costs as a percentage of various items in the University’s financial statements, including total institutional revenues, expenses, salaries, surpluses, cash flows and capital purchases. These ratios are highly selective and arbitrary, and the article provides no standards against which to evaluate them (i.e. How would these ratios compare to other universities and organizations of similar complexity?). A more relevant comparison would include an examination of the marketplace for contract academic services in Ontario. This would show, as the paragraph above notes, that Laurier’s CAS wages are competitive compared to other Ontario universities.