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It seems fitting that as graduate students and contract faculty across Ontario (and even more across North America) walk out on strike, Heather Mallick publishes a piece blasting unpaid labor.

Sadly, no one will pay attention.

Opinions about wage equity are about as polarized as the wages themselves. Most “haves” think that everything is fine and dandy. Who wants to pay $20 for a shitty movie, $50 for an average dinner for two, or $25 for a book you’ll only pretend to read? Pirate it! Groupon it! Get it for free!

“Have-nots”, on the other hand, are increasingly dissatisfied. Want a stable job? Sorry, 6-month contractual work is the new norm. Pay for your loans, your car, your house with a temp job (unless you live in a major metro area — then good luck getting even a new-build studio apartment). A new report from Ryerson reports that students and even faculty are increasingly using its food bank services.

As we noted yesterday, minimum wage increases, while admirable, are still not enough to provide a good life for families. Similarly, the bargaining issues on the table at Toronto universities — an increase to minimum funding (currently $15,000/year at U of T., $13,500 at York) and year-long job security — are not excessive (we don’t have an opinion on other aspects of bargaining at this time).

Students, take note: the upper-level administrators take home almost half a million a year, plus more in benefits than non-tenure-track faculty make per year. If you’re wondering where your tuition goes, it’s to administrators — not the people in your classroom. (Okay, professors in Canada also make six figures — but ONLY the tenured/tenure-track, and their numbers are plummeting). Estimates vary, but between 40-70% of instructional staff in North America are non-tenure-track — which means that the people in your classrooms probably aren’t the ones you should be mad at for the disruption to your education.

As Mallick points out, charity (in the form of financial contributions or aid-in-kind) is not the answer to a more stable society. Fair employment is. And “fair” doesn’t mean free.