Over 100 faculty members from Ontario’s 24 public colleges met in Toronto over the weekend for their division’s pre-bargaining conference. They discussed the key issues facing colleges on the 50th anniversary of their founding, heard presentations from key labour allies, learned about important union initiatives, and elected a bargaining team for the 2017 round of negotiations. The college academic collective agreement expires September 30, 2017.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas opened the conference on Saturday. He highlighted how the steep decline in provincial funding for the colleges is tied to the exploitation of part-time faculty and the creeping privatization seen in the colleges. He also shared his support for faculty members’ push for collegial governance and academic freedom.
Delegates also heard about the launch of We Own It!, OPSEU’s broad-based campaign against privatization. Delegates had the chance to meet with two member organizers and learn about how the twin tracks of the campaign will work together to defend public assets and services.
In addition, attendees heard presentations from the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU). The CTU recently completed a successful round of bargaining aimed at defending public education. Following these presentations, delegates considered how best to apply the insights shared to mobilize members across the province in advance of contract negotiations next year.
Finally, on Sunday, delegates selected their 2017 bargaining team:
Darryl Bedford, Local 110
Mona Chevalier, Local 470
JP Hornick, Local 556
Kevin MacKay, Local 240
Shawn Pentecost, Local 415
Ravi Ramkissoonsingh, Local 242
Nicole Zwiers, Local 354
The team (pictured here with Ed Toivonen, Local 655, elected as an alternate) will meet in the weeks to come to select a chair and begin preparing for negotiations next year.