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OPSEU takes union drive to St. Lawrence College

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Kingston – Ontario college presidents need to quit trying to deny the rights of their part-time college staff, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas made the remarks at St. Lawrence College in Kingston where today union organizers are handing out a copy of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “By trying to kick our organizers off campuses, college presidents are violating the Charter. This must stop. This includes the right to come together in a union and bargain for better wages and working conditions,” Thomas said.

St. Lawrence has been one of seven community colleges trying to ban union organizing on college property.  "In the past we've had problems with St. Lawrence College telling our organizers to get off the campus," Thomas said. "I’m optimistic that that’s all done now, but we’re at St. Lawrence today to underscore that we’ve got a right to be here.

“Our organizers are not interfering with the work of the colleges,” Thomas added. “They are talking to part-time staff before work, after work, and on breaks. It’s a perfectly legitimate activity.”

Part-time college staff rarely get equal pay for doing the exact same job as a full-time worker. They also have never been given the right to have health benefits, paid sick days or vacation time.

“These community colleges are on the wrong side of history. College presidents should be cooperating with us to get their part-time staff the rights they deserve,” Thomas said.

OPSEU represents more than 20,000 full-time college faculty and support staff at the province’s 24 community colleges.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931