The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Precarity in higher learning: Neoliberalism and contract faculty contract negotiations at WLU

As the contract faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) negotiate a new contract, many within the union have recognized their struggle as another moment in the widescale resistance to neoliberal ideologies. With WLU and other universities operating with a capitalist business model, the schools are furthering their reliance on contract faculty. While teaching more classes than their full-time counterparts, contract faculty are paid considerably less than full-time faculty, receive no benefits, and are not paid for the research they must undertake to produce quality work in this competitive "publish or perish" atmosphere.  

With universities accepting more students and charging more for tuition than ever before, there have been marked increases in the number of high-level administrators running the schools, and in the remuneration they receive, however, at every contract negotiation for the workers, "cost-saving" measures are forced on support staff and faculty.

In this interview, recorded December 30, 2016, we speak with Stephen Svenson (@DocSvenson), a contract faculty professor teaching at Wilfrid Laurier University, and a member of the communications team for the faculty association there. We speak about the contract negotiations at WLU through a lens critical of neoliberal ideologies and with a discussion of their impacts on communities and lives.

As the final edits were being put on this interview, word was received that a second round of conciliation has led to a tentative agreement being reached between WLU and the contract faculty within the faculty association. Details have not emerged about the deal, but check the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association websiteFacebook, and Twitter for updates on the ratification of the deal.

Like this podcast? rabble is reader-supported journalism.

Image: Twitter/WLUFA


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.