College Support/Soutien. College Support Part-time.

College Support Part-Time Bargaining Bulletin #7: ‘Taking Care of Student Workers’

OPSEU College Support Part-time / SEFPO College soutien personnel a temps partiel

Wages, hours top priorities for student workers

A huge thank-you to the hundreds of people who took the time to fill out our survey for students working part-time in college support.

“OPSEU is a strong, powerful union because our members speak up about what’s important to them and the work they do,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I’m pleased and proud that so many of you took time to speak up about what matters to you as students working in college support. We’re all stronger for it.”

Better wages, the option for more hours, and the opportunity to keep working after graduation—these are just some of the priorities you identified that we’ll be fighting for at the bargaining table.

Here’s a selection of your thoughtful and heartfelt responses:

  • I would benefit from more hours at a higher rate of pay. My wage does not match inflation rates or even minimum wage. I didn’t get a shift for the whole month of March and now I am lucky to get four hours a week but others are getting up to 20 hours.
  • I am looking for student jobs that are relevant to the program that I am taking. I want to be valued in the work that I am doing and paid accordingly.
  • Sometimes we are told we will have 24 hours/week but don’t get scheduled more than 12 hours/week. We are expected to give advance notice of our availability; they should also be required to give advanced notice of budgeted resources manifested in the form of contracts.
  • Raise the standard wage for student workers. Currently students all over the college are getting paid different rates.
  • My current manager wanted me to start two weeks before my student job was scheduled to begin. My rate of pay was significantly higher for those two weeks. Once my student job started, my rate dropped even though I was doing the same job with the same responsibilities. Frustrating, but not something that I am prepared to dispute since my long term goal is to get hired full time by the college upon graduation.

Having students as members of support staff is a win-win situation

For student workers, like bargaining team member Duncan McFarlane, it means a steady income with a flexible schedule.

“I didn’t want to leave college with a whole bunch of debt,” says McFarlane. “I wanted to have a flexible job so it would work around my timetable — where better to get that than by working at the college?”

But it’s not just good for the student workers. College Support Sector Chair Janice Hagan says the colleges are benefiting, too.

“Having students on staff is a huge boost to the quality of education the colleges offer,” Hagan says. “They can relate to the issues students are facing and offer great mentoring, tutoring, and support.

“If it weren’t for student workers, we’d be seeing a lot more students dropping out.”

Please send us your stories about job duties / classifications

Each and every one of your stories helps us build strong arguments we can use during bargaining.

This month, we’re particularly interested in hearing stories about how fairly (or unfairly) you’re being compensated. Are you doing the same work as another person who’s paid more?

Please email us the details at We read every one of them because they matter to us, and they truly help us at the table.

What student workers are telling us

Take a minute to watch Duncan McFarlane share some of the priorities of students working part-time in college support.

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News from the table

Bargaining continues at a good, productive rhythm, with your bargaining team moving carefully and steadily through each issue.

“We are pleased to see the College Council acknowledging the importance and value of part-time support workers such as invigilators, who are also known as exam supervisors,” said bargaining team member Connie Collins. “We remain confident the employer will agree that invigilators—and all part-time workers—should be treated and compensated appropriately.”

The next bargaining dates we were able to schedule are Aug. 23 and Aug. 24. Until then, we’ll be back in our workplaces, continuing to consult with you, listen to your stories, and prepare for the next critical stage of negotiations.

Top 5 reasons why student workers should be active OPSEU members

Student college support workers may face unique issues, but they are an equally important part of the college system, and they are just as important to OPSEU as any other member.

“A student worker is a worker, plain and simple” says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “And I want to encourage every single student working part-time in college support to become an active member of this great union of ours. I can guarantee that it will be worth your while!”

Here are the Top 5 reasons to become an active OPSEU member:

  • Power: The more active you are, the more powerful we are as your bargaining team. The more powerful we are, the better wages and working conditions you’ll receive!
  • Savings: OPSEU members are entitled to great savings and discounts on things like cellphones and cellphone plans, auto and home insurance, and admission to all kinds of events and venues.
  • Voice: In order to vote for your local executive and your bargaining team, you must be a member. When you become an OPSEU member, you gain a real voice in your union!
  • Education: Even if you’re only a college employee for a year or two, the lessons you’ll learn about the value of being in a union will last you the rest of your life.
  • You might be a member longer than you think: Even if you think you’re only going to be a support worker for a year or two, you might be surprised. “I thought I was only going to be a college worker for two years,” says College Support Sector Chair Hagan. “That was 30 years ago!”

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 Colleg
Connie Collins, Local 137 at St. Clair Colleg
Janice Hagan, Local 561 at Seneca College, College Support Sector Chair

For more information, visit

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Please email your bargaining team at 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