More than 60% of all OCADU faculty are Sessional. Shockingly, we are the lowest paid faculty of any Ontario university. This is an embarrassment for Canada’s oldest and largest Art and Design University.The majority of our Sessionals (70%) have been teaching at OCAD U for more than five years – many have taught at OCAD U for over a decade – and yet we remain precarious with no job security. Sessional Faculty are calling on the OCAD U leadership to work with us to improve our working conditions.
Sessional faculty will hold a Forum (virtual) to discuss sessional working conditions at OCAD U in the Fall of 2022. We have invited President Ana Serrano to join us to hear directly from Sessionals about our demands for Fair Pay and Job Security.
Counting on Sessionals
Sessional instructors form the largest labour category of faculty at OCAD University, outnumbering all other faculty categories (Tenure, Tenure-Track, Continuing, Teaching Stream, and CLTA). Out of 436 faculty who taught at OCAD U last year, 272 were Sessionals. 62% of faculty who teach at OCAD U are Sessionals. On average, Sessionals teach over 2.5 courses per year, which means roughly 55% of all for-credit courses are taught by Sessional instructors.
Sessionals are long-term faculty. Almost half of OCAD U Sessionals have taught here for at least ten years. Sessionals bring experience and expertise gained elsewhere as well. Over 80% of Sessionals have more than ten years of experience in their area of professional practice or research, with almost 60% having more than 15 years of experience. Finally, over 65% of OCAD U Sessionals have either a terminal Master’s degree or a Doctoral degree.*
*Source: OCADFA Spring 2020 Membership Survey
Sessionals Take Action
We have formed a Sessional Task Force. We approached OCAD U’s President. We have solutions.
There is currently a 3-tier Sessional pay scale at OCAD University. In 2021-22:
Tier 1 (Ses1) – $6,443 per course
Tier 2 (Ses2) – $7,517 per course
Tier 3 (Ses3) – $8,589 per course
In the 2021-22 academic year, 90% of OCAD U’s Sessional instructors were paid at the Ses1 pay rate. At $6,443 per course in 2021-22, our base pay rate per course was about $1,500 less than the median base rate, or 19% less than the mean average of our colleagues at other Ontario universities. This is the worst pay in Ontario.
There is also no transparent process for Sessional Pay Scale progression. The OCADFA Sessional Task Force has developed a Pay Scale Mechanism Proposal which we have shared with University Administration. We demand a transparent, fair process for Sessional Faculty to move up the pay scale.
There is a clear need for the University to have a Sessional Conversion program, aka a pathway out of precarity for long-serving sessionals. Prior to obtaining University status, part-time faculty were considered permanent employees after five years of continuous teaching. This meant 71% of OCAD’s faculty had permanency (including full-time and part-time faculty). Sessionals were no longer recognized as permanent employee’s once OCAD obtained university status in 2002, and the number of faculty recognized as permanent dropped to 37%.
In the last round of bargaining OCADFA won the right for Sessionals to be reappointed to a course they’ve taught 4 times in the last 5 years. But this right is not secure and long-serving Sessionals still face unpredictable workloads and can still lose their jobs at OCAD U with no notice or cause. We need meaningful job security that recognizes the long-term contributions many Sessionals make to OCAD U. Faculty and students deserve stability.