Toronto – Contract faculty working at all 24 of Ontario’s public colleges will soon have a chance to vote to unionize.
Today at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) filed an application to become the bargaining agent for thousands of faculty members who teach part-time (six or fewer hours per week), or as sessionals (more than 12 hours per week, on short-term contracts).
“With this application, we are taking a big step towards ending the exploitation of part-time, contract faculty in the colleges,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “These highly-qualified workers deliver recognized credit courses at wages and working conditions that are absolutely inferior to the negotiated rate.
“In recent weeks, Premier Kathleen Wynne has clearly signalled that the era of employers paying workers less because they are part-time or temporary must come to an end,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t agree more, and that’s why this application is so historic.”
RM Kennedy, chair of the College Academic Division of OPSEU, representing full-time faculty, said improving the jobs of contract staff could only be good for education quality overall.
“It’s simply not viable to run a modern college system with 70 per cent of the faculty being contract workers who aren’t properly compensated and don’t know if they’ll even be working from one term to the next,” Kennedy said. “You can’t ensure quality of education without quality wages and working conditions.”
The union has asked the OLRB to order a province-wide supervised vote in mid-July.
“Contract faculty have never had a better opportunity to make their voices heard around workplace issues,” said Thomas. “Our goal now is to get every single contract faculty member out to vote.”
OPSEU already represents all full-time faculty and support staff in Ontario’s community colleges.
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931