College vote a historic milestone for precarious workers

Person putting a ballot that says "Vote Yes to OPSEU!" into a ballot box.

Toronto – Thousands of part-time college support workers across Ontario have already voted in the largest organizing drive in Canadian history, with the final votes being cast today on Seneca, Fanshawe, Sault and Algonquin College campuses.

The President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union congratulated the workers who voted, noting that their struggle “is a beacon of hope for the millions of Canadians in part-time, temporary, insecure jobs.

“This vote marks a historic milestone in the struggle to improve the lives of precarious workers,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Premier Kathleen Wynne now has an opportunity to walk the talk on protecting precarious workers. The single biggest thing she could do to help these workers right now is to send a clear signal to the colleges that she wants these votes counted without delay.”

“This is a major turning point in the battle against precarious work,” said Andrew Cash, co-founder of the Urban Worker Project. “By coming together to vote for union representation, these workers are laying the foundation for a brighter future for all workers—not only in Ontario, but across the country."

During the last attempt by part-time college support staff to unionize, in 2009, legal wrangling by the province and the colleges prevented their votes from being counted – an outcome OPSEU is determined to avoid in 2016.

“These votes could be counted tomorrow, if Kathleen Wynne says so,” Thomas pointed out. ”After more than seven years, and two organizing drives, these workers have waited long enough. They deserve to have their votes counted now.”

With voting now completed, the vote count is in the hands of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. OPSEU will be meeting with the employer and the Board in the weeks to come to discuss the details of how the count will proceed. More information will be available then.

For more information: Craig Ashbourne, A/Communications Officer, OPSEU, 226-821-1725,

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