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By Avary Lovell

Part-time faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., took to the picket lines for better wages this week, and their counterparts at Ryerson say it’s time they got better pay too.

Ryerson’s part-time faculty is paid less than people doing similar work at other schools, said Emma Colucci, a part-time essay marker at Ryerson.

“It’s kind of a kick in the pants, getting paid less,” she said. “It’s not fair, if you’re doing the same work, you should be getting a standardized pay.”

As a master-level staff member, Colucci gets $33 an hour, while a person in the same position at U of T gets $36.35 an hour.

About 350 part-time staff at Laurier went on strike on March 19 after negotiations broke down with the university. They were offered a base salary of $6,211 per course per semester, compared to the $6,708 earned by similar workers at the University of Waterloo.

The strikers, which include professors, librarians and teaching assistants, voted 89 per cent in favour of the job action.

CUPE, the union that represents part-time faculty and TAs at Ryerson, said its workers get paid less than similar employees at U of T because Ryerson hasn’t been around as long.

“[The wages] are a function of increase over a period of time,” said Shawn McFadden, chief steward for CUPE, who deals with negotiating how much staff get paid.

The union has consistently had problems with the school paying its workers too late. Last year, 150 TAs and more than 20 sessional instructors weren’t paid for over a month.

Earlier this semester, the union filed a series of grievances pushing the school to pay its workers on time. However, according to union terms, a strike can’t take place until 2010. “Legally, we couldn’t strike until [the next] collective agreement,” McFadden said.

Colucci, who plans to work for another year while she’s completing her masters, said if she chooses to stay longer she wants to see change.

“I’d like to see an increase [in pay] if other schools are getting that,” she said. “I’d consider [a strike] if it was felt by a majority of TAs.”

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