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College Support Part-time Bargaining Bulletin #6: ‘Chaotic schedules, chaotic college services’

College Support Part-time Bargaining Bulletin #6: ‘Chaotic schedules, chaotic college services’

College Support Part-time
College Support Part-time
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‘Chaotic schedules, chaotic college services’

It’s a simple fact: nobody can do consistently good work when their schedules aren’t consistent.  It’s impossible to concentrate on the task at hand, or plan your work and your projects, when you don’t know when you’re going to be working or for how long.

“Part-time college support workers want to do the best work they can, but that’s impossible when they can’t count on their schedules,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “And this doesn’t just hurt part-time support workers. It hurts full-time support workers. It hurts faculty. And it hurts students.

“Chaotic schedules lead to chaotic college services,” Thomas said. 

Fixing the scheduling system is important for part-time college support workers from campuses across the province.

“Throughout the organizing drive, scheduling problems was one of the issues we heard about over and over again,” said bargaining chair Ted Claeys. “It’s clearly a priority for our members. And so it’s a priority for us at the bargaining table.”

Claeys said the team will fight to ensure that part-time support workers:

  • Receive their schedules well in advance of each semester
  • Are scheduled to work the legal maximum of 24 hours per week that part-timers can work
  • Are protected from the employer arbitrarily changing their schedule or hours of work at the last minute

Fairness in scheduling

Take a minute to watch Christopher Millado explain why scheduling language is important to achieve in this round of negotiations.

Please send us your stories

Each and every one of your stories help us build rationale that we can use in bargaining to prove to the Council that this language is necessary in our collective agreement.  Please keep emailing us your personal stories to collegeptbarg@opseu.org. We read every one of them because they matter to us, and they truly help us at the table. 

‘Without warning, my hours were cut in half!’

I have been employed at an Ontario College for seven years. I absolutely LOVE my job. But like many part time employees, I am in constant fear of not having my contract renewed each semester.

Think about that: not knowing if you have a job in fourteen weeks is scary. And to have to go through it every semester is cruel.

When I do finally get a contract (which is often right at the very last minute), I feel a short sense of elation and relief that I can put food on the table for another few months

A few semesters ago, I accepted and signed my part-time support contract in good faith, accepting my hours gratefully, as always. Four weeks into the semester, I was told my hours would be reduced significantly. Overnight, with no warning or way to find alternative employment, my hours were cut in half!

It states in my contract that “hours may be reduced or increased subject to change”. I didn’t have any way to dispute what had happened to me. I didn’t have a way to replace the income I had lost.

‘Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel’

I have been dedicated to my college as a part-time employee. I have many years of experience and am damn good at what I do.

Over the years I have watched my hours be distributed to new staff and I have seen a lot of turnover in this process. Why is my loyalty to my job rubbed in my face and given to new staff who come and go when clearly I am dedicated and do my job efficiently and effectively.

But I struggle with depression and anxiety because I have dedicated years of my life to an institution that uses me when they see fit then throws me away when it benefits them.

I write this in hopes that someone can relate and know they are not alone in this battle to treat part-time employees fairly. Keep your head up hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Top 5 reasons everybody wins when scheduling is fair

They say that time is money. So when the employer cuts your schedule, they’re also cutting your pay.

“When the employer takes away your hours, they’re essentially taking money out of your pocket,” said Janice Hagan, College Support Sector Chair. ”That’s money that you’d probably been counting on to pay your rent or buy your groceries.”

But money isn’t the only reason scheduling is important to part-time college support workers and the students who depend on them. Here are the Top 5 reasons why it’s time for the College Council to fix the scheduling system:

  1. Fair scheduling improves morale which in turn improves productivity.
  2. Improved scheduling can offer greater consistency of services for students, leading to increased student success.
  3. Just because somebody works part-time, doesn’t mean that they have more “free time.”
  4. Life takes planning, especially for part-timers because many of them have to hold other part-time jobs to make ends meet.
  5. Unfair scheduling deprives employees of a healthy work-life balance.

Are you a student part-time support worker? We need your input!

College students make up a large number of the colleges’ part-time support workers. If you’re one of them, your bargaining team needs to hear from you!

“As students, we’re trying to juggle work and study,” says bargaining team member Duncan McFarlane, who works at, and is a student at, Algonquin College in Ottawa. “It means that we have concerns and needs that are unique.”

To fully understand those concerns and needs, the bargaining team has created a short online survey for college students who are also part-time college support workers. The survey is just seven questions long and will be open until midnight Tuesday, June 26.

“Completing this survey will take less than five minutes of your time,” said McFarlane, “but it will help us bargain language for you that we hope make a real difference to your entire college career.”

If you’re a college student who is a part-time College Support worker, please click here to fill out our short survey.

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

For more information, visit www.opseu.org 

Join our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CollegeSupportPT/

Follow us on Twitter: @CAATSupport_PT #PTchange

Please email your bargaining team at collegeptbarg@opseu.org 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

Write to us at collegeptbarg@opseu.org with your questions, concerns, and stories from the workplace. We read everything you send, and everything you send is helpful!