‘A step toward easing cost of living stresses, but still a long road ahead’
Toronto – Full-time support staff at Ontario’s colleges have successfully negotiated a 9.5% pay increase with the College Employer Council, following the Superior Court of Ontario’s decision to overturn the Ford government’s unconstitutional wage cap legislation, Bill 124.
The approximately 9,000 workers, represented by OPSEU/SEFPO, reached a settlement with the College Employer Council on Friday, August 25th. The settlement, which was negotiated over several weeks, resulted in pay increases of 3%, 3% and 3.5% per year respectively (inclusive of the 1% per year previously negotiated). By comparison, under Bill 124, workers were limited to 1% wage increases during a quickly rising cost-of-living crisis and record-high inflation.
“After a prolonged round of bargaining, I am happy to bring a deal to our membership that will help members who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Christine Kelsey, bargaining team Chair and assistive technologist. “We are proud of what we have achieved, but it is only a start to achieving fairness and well-deserved compensation for our college workers.”
Full-time college support staff work in over 150 positions in Ontario’s colleges, including administrative assistants, clerical staff, admissions and registration staff, program coordinators, disability advisors, and many more. Over 25% of them make less than $60,000 per year on average, and of those, 82% are women.
“We have members who struggle to afford food, rent, mortgages, bills, and schooling for their children. Some are single parents who can barely make ends meet on one income, despite working full-time. Others are unable to retire because they struggle to save enough,” added Kelsey. “This settlement is a step toward bridging the gap between what college support workers earn and the high cost-of-living, but we still have a long road ahead.”
During wage reopener negotiations, full-time college support workers engaged in province-wide solidarity actions, including a campaign writing letters to college presidents and a social media campaign wearing blue in unity with their bargaining team.
“It is appalling that the Ford government chooses to throw public money at fighting these workers in court instead of recognizing their value to our college system,” said JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President. “The wage increases full-time college support workers have achieved is the result of them coming together to say ‘enough’ and collectively fighting back for better, and that fight back is only just getting started.”
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union/ Syndicat des employés de la fonction publique de l’Ontario (OPSEU/SEFPO) represents approximately 180,000 workers across Ontario. OPSEU/SEFPO members work in a wide range of public services including the Ontario Public Service (OPS), colleges and universities, correctional institutions, health care, social services, the LCBO, and many more. Learn more at opseu.org
Kim Johnston, OPSEU/SEFPO Communications Supervisor