While students, workers and supporters are watching for improved working conditions at
Post-doctoral researchers are like faculty members: they have received their doctorates (PhDs) and conduct high-level research in their fields of expertise. But they have none of the benefits that are afforded to faculty members. Ryerson’s post-doctoral fellow population is approximately 80 and is growing rapidly.
Recently, two unnamed tenure-track faculty members have constructed a website to document the problems facing post-docs in
In their website, the authors focus on the injustices faced by foreign and domestic post-docs, poor benefits, the difficulty of starting young families, the question of status (student vs. employee), and post-docs’ unsustainable pay. According to
It appears that the
But maybe this isn’t the real reason that the U of T and others are interested in labeling post-docs as trainees (students). More people are becoming worried that in the pursuit of more money, universities will start to look for more revenue generating units (tuition fee-paying students). Post-docs at the University of Toronto (excluding those at affiliate research institutions like hospitals) will be forced to cough up $200 this year, which could generate nearly half a million dollars. With no regulations on these fees, they could grow rapidly after their introduction.
There is a growing and strong opposition to the introduction of these fees. CUPE 3902, the union representing a handful of teaching post-docs (and thousands of other instructors) has included the removal of a ‘training’ fee in current contract negotiations. CUPE 3902 at the U of T is trying to negotiate better supplemental job opportunities like teaching.
Foreign workers are especially exposed to the harsh realities of post-doc positions and require special attention. If universities like the U of T are successful implementing their student/trainee post-doctoral model, foreign post-docs could loose their access to public healthcare. Many may also experience bureaucratic turmoil because of inconsistencies that such a change in designation would cause with their current work visas.
CUPE 3902’s negotiations are strong evidence that unionization would stop this cash-grab and other consequences that a student label could lead to. Post-doctoral fellows in