Many Canadian Union of Public Employees Unit 1 positions have been cut this year due to the education budget cuts. According to Ryerson’s media relations officer Jessica Leach, the final budget reduction this year was four per cent.
Ryerson political science professor and president of the CUPE 3904 union, Joseph Zboralski, said these cuts will also affect the students’ choice of courses.
“There’s going to be less choice of courses probably than there are already. The courses may not be offered as often as they were in the past. Class sizes are getting bigger,” said Zboralski.
Leach said it’s not yet known how many fewer courses are being offered this fall as a result of the budget cuts.
“The university continues to track the total number of courses offered, and minimizing the impact on the student experience has been a priority in our planning,” Leach said.
The cuts, mandated by Doug Ford’s administration, varied by faculty and department. The business school faced significant cuts, for example, Zboralski said, while the Faculty of Arts wasn’t affected as much.
“We’re obviously concerned because our members are in precarious situations as it is. Contract work is always a precarious form of labour, and this has been the case for many, many years,” Zboralski added.
“The reality is, [to] a certain extent, this whole thing is out of our control. It’s driven by government decisions and government cutbacks.”
The majority of the teaching positions at Ryerson are held by Unit 1 members, according to Zboralski. However, neither the union nor the university had control over how much work was made available. The cuts also took place across other universities, too.
All we can really do is make sure that the work that is available is distributed in a fair and equitable fashion,” Zboralski said.
Leach said the decisions about the number of courses offered depended on factors including student demands, space available and the full-time faculty availability. She added that Ryerson hired 80 new full-time faculty this year to be available for teaching.
The union’s objective has been to protect Ryerson staff members with seniority first. “As a union, we strongly believe in the seniority principle that if you’ve been teaching them, if you’ve been working here for a long time, your position should be protected,” Zboralski added.
According to Article 25 of the CUPE Local 3904 Unit 1 collective agreement, contract lecturers who had six or more seniority credits, and whose teaching load has decreased by more than 50 per cent, “may be eligible for a one-time only severance entitlement.”
Zboralski said that he knows “a few” people are getting this severance, but not “that many.”
Trying to support the other positions, the union had a successful discussion with the university to ensure that those who lost their jobs be provided with exit services, including job searches and writing resumes.
Official numbers of the positions cut are not yet known.