A note to our Social Service Worker Students

 A note to our Social Service Worker Students

Social justice is at the heart of social service work and an intrinsic part of what we teach and learn in social service work classrooms. As social service work students you are learning to become efficient practitioners, willing and able to address oppression and marginalization at individual and societal levels. At Sheridan College we are proud of the advocacy work our students do in the social service worker and social service worker gerontology program and as alumni in advocating for the rights of marginalized groups in society.

It might be difficult for social service students to view their college professors as a group that experiences social injustice. Yet, social injustice in the form of precarious work is the issue at the heart of the college strike. Less than 30% of the professors who teach you have full time stable jobs. The majority are contract faculty who have precarious work.

This is what precarious employment looks like for contract faculty:
  • Contract faculty are often employed a few days before the start of the semester and their job contracts end at the end of the semester. They are not certain they will have work (and what courses they will teach) the next semester. While contract employment is the reality of many jobs these days, contract faculty are particularly vulnerable because of the short periods of contracts (4 months) that they continue to experience for many years of their lives without any hopes of their contracts resulting in full time employment.
  • Though contract faculty have the same qualifications as full time faculty (most often a Masters or PhD degree) they are paid less than full time faculty for the same work.
  • They are paid only for classroom teaching hours. They are not paid for the time they spend with you outside the classroom, responding to emails, preparing for their courses, grading your assignments or all the things you rightfully expect your teachers to do as part of your education.
  • Partial load faculty (those who teach between 6-12 hours a week) have some health benefits but these only exist as long as they are currently employed. This means that they do not have benefits between semesters. 
    • For some, the only way to have access to benefits over the summer is to pay for the benefits themselves. This will only be available if it is approved by a Chair or Associate Dean, who also can guarantee that the faculty member will be hired back Partial-load in the fall semester.
  • The average salary for contract faculty is $35,000 a year. This is less than the average salary of a social service worker in Ontario. Many of these faculty are still paying off heavy student debts and can barely make enough to support their families.
As college students and future social service workers you have a role to play to fight this injustice.

Here are some things you can do to help:

Sign a tuition refund petition: http://chn.ge/2z9UdkB