OPSEU College Support/Soutien. College Support Full-Time.

CAAT Support Report Newsletter – Issue 5 – January 2014

The Support Report cover January 2014

Meet your 2014 bargaining team members

January 2014 – Issue 5

Our members have spoken and your union is listening.

On Nov. 30 support staff delegates from colleges across Ontario met at a pre-bargaining conference in Toronto to discuss your feedback from the 2011 bargaining and strike experience. While members were happy with the solidarity demonstrated, and friendships that blossomed, during our first strike in 30 years, it also became very clear that change is expected.

From your feedback to our 2011 experience it is evident you want changes to the way demands are set and prioritized. You want changes in the way the bargaining team communicates with local officers and members.

“We heard a common theme: Communication, Communication, Communication!” said Florry Foster, newly-elected chair of the 2014 bargaining team.

An unprecedented 14 CAAT Support members stood for election to the 2014 team including Florry Foster, Chair (Local 137, St. Clair), Richard Belleau, Vice Chair (Local 731, Confederation) and Rasho Donchev (Local 559, Centennial) who were each reelected, having previously served in 2011.

Joining them are newcomers Dan Brisson (Local 672, Boreal), Deborah Cooper (Local 563, Humber), Janice Hagan (Local 561, Seneca) and Kathy Hokum (Local 351, Fleming). The new team includes representation from a variety of regions, jobs and union experiences.

“There is a good mix and we look forward to working together for the members,” said Foster.

For the first time, delegates elected mobilizers to assist with communications and organizing for the 2014 round of bargaining. Andre Savoie (Local 109, Fanshawe) will lead the mobilizing in Regions 1 and 2. Michael McKeown (Local 353, Durham) will lead in Regions 3 and 4. Mark Hastings (Local 559, Centennial) was elected mobilizer in Region 5, and Owen Smith (Local 731, Confederation), in Regions 6 and 7. These new positions include timeoff provisions to help coordinate two-way communications and with the organization of volunteer mobilizers at each college.

The 2014 cycle of bargaining will begin with local demand set meetings at each college starting in January. The bargaining team will organize the submissions and only after that survey the members will establish specific priorities.

Delegates will meet again at the end of March to consider those priorities and vote on a final list of demands. In the past, priorities were sought first, and then demands set. But that led to general priorities that often did not match specific demands approved months later. While the timelines will be tight in order to make this new process work, it is hoped that the result will be a more focussed and streamlined set of bargaining demands that better reflects the needs of our members.

The new team met Dec. 5 with OPSEU President Smokey Thomas and negotiator, Michael Culkeen to get the process rolling. Thomas promised the full support of the union’s staff and leadership for what will likely be a difficult round of contract talks.

Next we will meet with resource experts from OPSEU in late January to develop effective research and communication strategies. We will also meet with the faculty bargaining team. As many of you will know, CAAT Academic will also bargain a new contract in 2014. Both of our collective agreements expire on Aug. 31, 2014. In our meeting with the OPSEU president, Thomas stressed it is essential that we develop strategies around joint demands and work together to improve working conditions for all.

We urge everyone to please attend your January demand set meeting and come out to vote on the submission from your local. Make sure you also look for our survey in late February so that you can provide your personal opinion on the received submissions that are most and least important to you. We need everyone’s contribution to develop achievable goals that all members can stand behind. We look forward to visiting your college and meeting you over the next few months. We promise to do our best to make the changes you request a reality.

In Solidarity,
Your 2014 Bargaining Team

Florry Foster


Florry has worked at St. Clair College in Windsor since 1999 as a chemical engineer technologist. She became active in Local 137 in 2000. Over the past 15 years she has served as a trustee, 2nd vice-president, 1st vice-president and finally as president for the past 10 years. She’s been active in health and safety and co-facilitates her regional educational as a worker health and safety instructor. Florry served as a member of St. Clair’s employer-employee relations committee (EERC) and then was re-elected for a three-year term as co-chair of the committee. At the November pre-bargaining meeting she was elected to the EERC as vice-chair which will allow her to focus on bargaining and other issues affecting the division. She also served one term as vice chair to the CAAT Support divisional executive (Divex) and now serves as chair representing the members in a more political manner.

Florry bargained a variety of collective agreements as an OPSEU Member Development
Trainee (MDT) in 2006. As the president of a composite local she has bargained three collective agreements for her members. This is her third round of bargaining on the CAAT Support team and she looks forward to the experience and opportunity to serve the membership and work with the new team. Florry believes this round will prove very challenging since it is the first round since the 2011 strike. At the same time she feels very confident in the team and the strength of the division.

Richard Belleau


Richard has been employed at Confederation College in Thunder Bay for 24 years as a skilled trades worker. He served as chief steward for Local 731 for six years and has been the local president for 18 years. His provincial involvement includes 14 years as chair of the joint classification committee; six years on the classification review committee; 11 years on the divisional executive, five years as co-chair of the grievance scheduling committee; five years as member of the employee employer relations committee; three terms on the resolutions committee and is currently a member of the newly-formed provincial francophone committee. This will be Richard’s sixth consecutive term on the bargaining team. He looks forward to working with the new team and achieving a fair contract.

Dan Brisson


  • 18 years of service in the college system

  • 16 years of experience as a steward

  • Has held the following elected positions in CAAT Support: Treasurer Vice President, and President of Local 672 Boreal College. Dan has also held elected positions at colleges in Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, London and Windsor.

  • Vice Chair of the Francophone committee for OPSEU

  • Member of the employer-employee relations committee

  • Member of the stabilization committee

  • Employment Consultant for Employment Options Emploi

  • 16 years as an officer with the Canadian Armed Forces

  • Social Work graduate

  • Business Administration graduate and a major in marketing and a minor in administration

Deborah Cooper


Deb has worked at Humber College in Toronto for 27 years. Her current occupation is as an advisor to the WSIB / Career Advancement program and as a student advisor and work-study coordinator for all Humber campuses. Deb has served as president of Local 563 for 10 years which encompasses three Humber campuses, multiple community outreach locations and almost 600 members. Deb is active in the union college committee, academic council, diversity committee, and the continuing education committee. She is involved with, and has encouraged OPSEU’s participation in, Humber’s new staff orientation group so that she is able to meet and sign up new members.

Deb has represented every member during arbitration and assisted them in writing briefs for presentation to management. She works hard to represent the members and keep them informed. She looks forward to working with the 2014 bargaining team and will work with her colleagues to make the members’ issues a priority.

Kathy Hokum


Kathy joins the bargaining team from Fleming College in Peterborough where she has been employed for the past 22 years. She currently works as technical business analyst / student administrative systems. Kathy describes herself as a detail oriented person who is a logical thinker, problem solver and team player.

Kathy became active in Local 351 shortly after starting at Fleming. She has experience as local vice-president, secretary and steward. She has been a union representative on many employer-employee committees such as Union College (SUCC), employee assistance plan (EAP), employment stability committee and health and safety committee, including serving a term as co-chair. Kathy is also the Return to Work union representative. She took collective bargaining training through the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and was a bargaining team member in the last round of negotiations for her composite local. Kathy hopes to put her skills to work for all CAAT Support members and to be a valuable member of your bargaining team.

Rasho Donchev


Rasho has been working for Centennial College in Toronto since 2004 and became active in his local in 2005. He now serves as vice-president of his Local 559. Rasho was elected as vice chair of the EERC in 2010 and was successfully re-elected as a member. Rasho currently sits on the CAAT Support divisional executive. From 2009-2013 he held the position of vice-chair of the region 5 hardship committee. This is Rasho’s third term as an elected member of the bargaining team.

Janice Hagan


Janice is a learning centre support officer at Seneca College’s York University campus in Toronto. She has been president of OPSEU Local 561 for 12 years, and an elected officer for more than 20 years. She has also been chair of the joint insurance committee for the past 15 years and is currently vice chair of OPSEU’s constitution committee. The 2014 round of bargaining will be Janice’s first time on the bargaining team. She brings to the team extensive knowledge of our collective agreement and benefits packages having represented members in more than 1,000 grievances and hundreds of benefits appeals.

Download this issue