OPSEU has hammered out a first ever tentative agreement for some 20,000 part-time support staff in Ontario’s colleges.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas calls it an historic deal that will vastly improve the working lives of thousands of the union’s newest members.
“Our members will no longer have their lives turned upside down because of chaotic scheduling. They’ll have rules surrounding job security, and they’ll know that OPSEU will support them if they’re unfairly treated on the job,” said Thomas.
“It has taken a lot of work to get to this point, but we have turned an important corner with this agreement.”
The tentative agreement comes just over a year after the Ontario Labour Relations Board confirmed OPSEU’s right to represent the part-time workers. They overwhelmingly voted to join OPSEU after the largest organizing drive in Canadian labour history that lasted 14 years.
Thomas paid tribute to the bargaining team and OPSEU negotiators who tirelessly negotiated over the past year to hammer out the terms.
Specific details of the agreement will be released after the members have had a chance to ratify it. The bargaining team is recommending acceptance of the deal. The union will be organizing meetings to go over the details with the members and ratification votes will be set up in the coming weeks.
The tentative agreement is a huge victory to college part-time support workers and to all Ontarians engaged in precarious work, said OPSEU First Vice-President Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida.
“I predict this deal will have a ripple effect that will eventually benefit all precarious workers in Ontario,” Almeida said. “It raises the bar for how those in precarious work are treated. The pressure will now be on all employers to step up to treat workers fairly.”
Thomas says this is a great moment for the Canadian labour movement.
“This shows that hard work and determination can make dreams become reality,” Thomas said. “All of us at OPSEU are thrilled that we’ve taken a major step in making Ontario a better place for thousands of hard working people.
While I commend the employer on arriving at a negotiated settlement, I say in the strongest terms that it’s time to drop your legal challenges to the part-time academic organizing drive currently before the labour board. It’s 2019. All college front line workers should have a collective voice in the workplace. Stop spending precious tax and tuition dollars fighting the inevitable.”
OPSEU represents 155,000 members including 12,000 full-time and 20,000 part-time college support workers and 12,000 full-time college faculty members.