No sooner had the Ford government repealed Bill 148 and the promises it held to improve working conditions, than the College Employer Council put out a shameful press release voicing their support and allegiance with this destructive agenda.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas immediately called out this anti-worker maneuver saying: “This is a slap in the face to every precarious worker, especially our college workers, both in Academic and Support. It has emboldened the College Employer Council to boast that this announcement allows them to take millions of dollars out of the pockets of the workers in our province’s colleges.”
Thomas added that it’s no surprise the colleges are supporting the anti-worker agenda of the Ford government. “They have been running the colleges on the backs of precarious workers for the past 50 years,” said Thomas. “But they should know that fairness for part-time college workers is building some serious momentum, and OPSEU doesn’t back down.”
True to form, the College Employer Council praised the Ford government decision, which includes a nearly three-year wage freeze on minimum wage earners, and the elimination of legal enforcement of equal pay for equal work.
The employer emphasized that they value “flexibility” above all else, meaning they will continue to disregard the issues facing part-time workers.
College Support Part-time Staff must raise our voices like never before. Support your bargaining team, participate in group actions, and share your stories.
The time to be heard is now.
A province-wide job evaluation system is the right thing to do
We are asking the colleges to do the right thing: Evaluate our jobs using the job evaluation system currently in place for full-time support staff. That way, College Support Part-time workers can be properly recognized and compensated for the work we do.
The College Employer Council insists that part-time support staff require a collective agreement that is different from others already in place. Why are we considered different? In many cases we are doing the same jobs as our full-time counterparts.
Your bargaining team put this item on the table back in May, but the employer keeps on sidestepping and ignoring this key demand. It’s time for them to step up and address fair wages with a fair job evaluation system, and fair pay, for part-time support employees.
Fair pay includes a job evaluation system. Watch the video now! https://youtu.be/lsEL-ggTFVc
Job evaluation: building a solid foundation for fairness
Advisors, Biotechnologists, Clerks…Zamboni Drivers: College Support Staff have exceptionally diverse jobs. So how do we ensure these workers are paid fairly in relation to each other?
Full-time support employees have a job evaluation system that details duties and assigns points based on the following 12 factors: education, certification, experience, analysis and problem solving, planning and coordinating, guiding and advising others, independence, service delivery, communication, physical effort, audio/visual effort and working environment.
The total points determine the pay-band for each job. If employees feel their job is not rated fairly, they can make evidence-based arguments for more points. This system works.
Right now, part-time support employees have 24 different systems across 24 colleges, with no transparency as to how rates are determined, except that we know they are paid much lower than their full-time co-workers in the same departments. Many part-time employees only earn minimum wage.
Full-time support staff are given pay increases after each of the first four years of experience at a particular pay level. They also receive rate increases on an annual or semi-annual basis. Some part-time support staff have never received a raise. At some colleges, the rates for Part-time Support Staff have been stagnant for decades except for minor adjustments to the provincial minimum wage.
The only way Part-time Support Staff will ever have equal pay is to have the same job evaluation system as Full-time Support Staff.
We are bargaining our first contract, the foundation upon which all future contracts will be built. We need to start with fairness, or part-time workers will forever be behind and fighting to catch up.
One worker’s struggle for fairness
My post-secondary employment experience is unfortunately not an anomaly. I started in a part time contract support position around six years ago. I knew I would be laid off in May and then hopefully rehired in August each year. But I accepted it because I’m passionate about education and I believed I would eventually be rewarded for my dedication and work ethic. But it was not to be.
Now, I realize it sounds like sunshine and lollipops – I heard the murmurs of how toxic the environment was, how staff were becoming more disposable – but I was optimistic.
By my second year, I found it strange I had never been approached about a review of any kind and started making inquiries. I found out that some other part time support staff, hired shortly after me in the same department and in a similar position, were making several dollars more an hour than me. I brought it to my manager’s attention, who appreciated the discrepancy and attempted to correct it.
I’m sure you can guess by now, that no correction was made. On my next contract the new wage was submitted and denied. It was “too much of an increase at one time”, “there was currently a wage freeze”, and my personal favorite “this isn’t a new contract, it’s a roll over contract so the wage stays the same”. I was starting to understand the cynicism I had been hearing and it was becoming clear that I was not valuable.
During this time, it had also become increasingly obvious that my program needed a full time employee in my position. Administration was pressed by faculty and coordinator alike on the need for a full time support person, who said that I needed to be given more hours to adequately support the students, faculty and program as a whole. Unpaid overtime was racking up. Still nothing, no movement due to “no budget at this time” and that I was to “just stop” doing the extra work – work that had become basically necessary.
Flash forward to the passing of Bill 148… Finally, I could put up with the unpaid overtime, the added expectations and responsibilities that had been increasingly downloaded! Because I would at least be paid fairly compared to the (few) full timers in similar positions… Was I ever wrong!
Parttime support staff were given notice that HR would be conducting evaluation reviews under the “Equal Pay for Equal Work” legislation and we would be informed by end of June. Then it was end of July. Then it was the end of August when a new communication indicated that those in my job position were the last phase for evaluation so no information was available yet on the result.
During this time, the program was notified that there would be a new hire – a new position at a higher rate of pay than mine – to essentially fill in the gaps that had widened due to my lack of hours. This didn’t seem right to me so I spoke to my manager and HR. “It’s a different position” they said, “a different title and different responsibilities” although the job description is nearly verbatim the same as mine.
I still have yet to hear any official result – apparently reviews are still pending. Oh, and that new hire is a grad from a couple of years ago. Someone with far less experience is filling in the gaps that they wouldn’t make a full time position for, at a higher rate of pay than the wage I make. The bitter cherry on top is we’ll be sharing an office so we can “support one another”.
I got into education because I care. Because I know how valuable an education is and I wanted to make a difference even in some small way. But that optimism I once had has been replaced by a brutal anxiety – that we are just disposable cogs in a corrupted and unjust education system.
My story is not that different from so many others. But it is because of this kind of unjust and immoral circumvention of employment laws that we need the collective support of a union and legislation like Bill 148. The employment climate is precarious – the least we can do is make it fair.
Support your bargaining team to achieve equal pay!
You told us you want wage parity with Full-time Support Staff: Not just “equal pay for the same job” for a select few, but fairness for all part-time support staff. The only fair way to ensure equal pay is for part-time employees to have the same job evaluation system and the same pay rates as full-time employees.
The College Employer Council doesn’t want a central evaluation system. They want “flexibility”.
We need to know that equal pay matters to you and what you are prepared to do to help.
Answer the survey now!
Save the dates!
Sticker Day: November 6
All College Support Part-time employees and their allies are asked to wear a sticker to show their support for our bargaining team.
Tele-town hall: November 22 at 7 p.m.
Hear from your bargaining team about negotiations and ask your questions
Information Lunchtime Picket at your campus: November 28
Join co-workers and allies for a lunchtime picket action.
Your bargaining team,
Ted Claeys, Local 124 at Lambton College, Chair
Duncan McFarlane, Local 416 at Algonquin College, Vice-chair
Jennifer Ayotte, Local 656 at Cambrian College
Christopher Millado, Local 557 at George Brown College
Connie Collins, Local 137 at St. Clair College
Janice Hagan, Local 561 at Seneca College, College Support Sector Chair
Join our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CollegeSupportPT/
Follow us on Twitter: @CAATSupport_PT #PTchange
Follow us on Instagram: collegesupport_pt
Please email your bargaining team at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns. We are happy to answer you.
Approved for distribution by Warren (Smokey) Thomas,
President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union