'History has been made:' After a long fight, part-time college support staff represented by OPSEU ratify first deal
Publication DateThursday, February 21, 2019 - 9:00pm
Toronto – Hailing it as a victory for working people everywhere – particularly those stuck in precarious jobs – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has announced that 20,000 part-time support workers at Ontario’s colleges have voted to ratify their first-ever collective agreement.
“History has been made,” said Thomas. “OPSEU and this large group of workers fought for years for the legislated right to join a union. We won that fight and now these workers have an excellent first contract to show for it.
“It’s a huge victory. And not just for them. It’s also a victory for their families, their communities, the students they serve, and working people everywhere.”
The contract contains a number of significant improvements, including a three per cent wage increase over two years and shift-premium increases, a formal grievance process, and vastly improved shift-change notice.
“This contract will immediately make our working lives better,” said Bargaining Committee Chair Ted Claeys, who works at Lambton College in Sarnia. “With job security and the ability to speak up, we can provide much better services to our students.”
OPSEU First Vice-President / Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says the ratification is an inspiration for all Ontarians, particularly those stuck in precarious work.
“OPSEU and these workers have proven that nothing is impossible,” said Almeida. “We had to fight for years to change the law that prevented these workers from joining a union. Then we had to fight against an employer who used every dirty trick in the book to stop them from joining OPSEU.
“But we won those fights because when workers organize, they are a force for fairness that can’t be stopped.”
Now that the college’s part-time support workers have a contract, Thomas says it’s time for the College Employers Council to voluntarily recognize OPSEU as the union for part-time and sessional faculty.
“It’s been more than a year since part-time and sessional faculty voted on joining OPSEU, but the employer continues to stall and block those votes from being counted,” said Thomas. “It’s time for the employer to stop with the dirty tricks and start respecting their employees’ Constitutional rights.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931