About the Campaign

About Precarious Situation

What our Campaign is all About

Precarious Situation is a campaign coming out of the work of a team of dedicated Unit 3 members called The Precarity Working Group. Upon the conclusion of Unit 3 bargaining in 2017, the bargaining team was unable to make large headway on developing a clear path towards permanent work for employees working on precarious contracts. The University of Toronto was not even interested in forming a working group, so Unit 3 members decided that they would develop their own working group dedicated to research, mobilization, and member education around the precarious situation of contract academic workers on campus.

From the research backgrounder by Research Chair, Mark Easton:

“The term “precarious work” or “precarious employment” (PE) is often used to describe work of short duration with little certainty of continued employment. Typically, the working hours are erratic or insufficient, benefits are poor or lacking, and earnings aren’t enough to meet basic needs. For most precarious workers, the only regulatory protection they have is the minimum provided under employment standards legislation. However, this is often insufficient for two reasons. A worker’s entitlement to such protection hinges on their legal status as an employee, but this is often a difficult thing to establish given the precarious nature of the work. Second, even in cases where workers are afforded some level of regulatory protection, the precarity of their work makes them extremely vulnerable to employer reprisals if they file a complaint. Overall, the constant insecurity and poor remuneration associated with this kind of work suggests that precarious workers some of the most vulnerable groups of people in the labour market.”

Precarity is a term which refers to the state of being precariously employed and includes the conditions that contribute to this situation, as well as its effects.
Our working group and campaign focuses on how precarity impacts academic workers. Our Unit 3 members are working at the University of Toronto on contracts of a year or less and work as Sessional Lecturers, Writing Instructors, Music Professionals, and Sessional Instructional Assistants. Depending on the term, there are about 1, 500 Unit 3 members at U of T.