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Algoma faculty find strength in OPSEU

Algoma University

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario – Faculty members at Algoma University have joined their colleagues from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and faculty from Ontario’s 24 Colleges of Applied Art and Technology as members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

“When looking for a larger union to merge with, our members overwhelmingly felt that their interests would be best represented by OPSEU,” said Algoma University Faculty Association President Pelham Matthews. “While we needed that support, we knew we wanted to stay engaged with the wider faculty world.

“This merger is the kind of forward-thinking move that is needed in Ontario’s small university sector. The model that OPSEU offers, which works so well for NOSM, will give our faculty the best of both worlds. We’ll be able to stay engaged with broader faculty issues through our membership in the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. At the same time we’ll add the strength of a major union to fight the battles our members face, while allowing us to play a part in the wider struggle for social justice.”

The new members were warmly welcomed by OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “After carefully considering their options, faculty realized that OPSEU would be the best home for them,” he said. “We’re excited to welcome them to the growing number of faculty members at the university and college level who put their trust in OPSEU.”

The Algoma University Faculty Association has 225 members in two bargaining units, including full-time and contract faculty. Contract faculty negotiations are ongoing, with a strike deadline of March 4. These contract faculty are currently the lowest-paid university faculty in the province, and are seeking fair pay and a transparent hiring process.

“We’re all too familiar with the struggles faced by contract faculty across Ontario,” said Thomas. “Sadly, we’ve heard many horror stories from the thousands of contract college faculty we’ve signed up through our current organizing drive. We’ll stand with Algoma’s contract faculty in their fight for fair treatment.”

“As a professor at Sault College, I know all the benefits that membership in OPSEU has brought us,” said Jeff Arbus, OPSEU Regional Vice-President for Region 6, which includes Algoma University. “I’m glad to know Algoma faculty will share in these benefits. In the end, it comes down to solidarity. We’re stronger together.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931