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OPSEU looks for June representation vote for part-time college support staff

We the North
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Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is asking the Ontario Labour Relations Board to schedule a vote this June that would allow thousands of part-time workers to unionize.

OPSEU applied today to represent part-time support staff at all 24 public community colleges around the province.

“At a time of growing concern about precarious work, our application today offers hope to thousands of precarious workers,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “In the course of this organizing drive, we’ve talked to workers who’ve been paid with gift cards instead of money. We’ve met people who have been doing the same job for eight years but still can’t get a sick day. College part-timers have no job security, and they seldom get the same wages as full-timers doing the same work.

“Part-time support staff at the colleges are now just one step away from being able to negotiate for fair wages and working conditions,” he said. “It’s a very exciting day.”

Andrew Cash, co-founder of the Urban Worker Project, called today’s union application “a major step forward in the battle against precarious work” and called on the colleges and the provincial government to make unionization easier for all workers.

“Through the Changing Workplaces Review, the province has very clearly signaled that it is concerned about job quality for people in part-time and temporary work,” said Cash. “Today’s application is a reminder that greater rates of union membership and collective bargaining mean more stable jobs and better lives for all workers.”

“This has been the biggest organizing drive in Canadian history,” OPSEU’s Thomas said. “Since we started last September, the number of part-timers we’ve signed up is comparable to the population of Goderich, or Renfrew, or Fort Frances.

“I’m calling on the colleges, and the Premier, to recognize the deep desire of thousands of Ontarians to have their voices heard, and to cooperate with us to schedule this historic vote.”

OPSEU currently represents more than 21,000 full-time support and academic staff at the colleges.

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For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931; Andrew Cash 416-219-1628