Toronto –The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), is calling on the College Employer Council (CEC) to cease its obstructionist tactics and allow the votes of college contract faculty who are seeking to unionize to be counted. The call comes in the wake of college part-time support staff’s victory over the CEC’s attempts to block their joining the union.
Last October, thousands of college contract faculty cast ballots in a representation vote to join OPSEU. However, the employer’s legal manoeuvres continue to hold up counting the votes at the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
“The CEC has taken a highly obstructionist attitude and used legal wrangling to prevent part-time support staff’s ballots from being counted,” said RM Kennedy, chair of OPSEU’s College Academic Division. “In the end, they dispensed millions in legal fees that could have been put to education. The CEC needs to stop spending millions of tax dollars and tuition dollars fighting unionization.”
Now that part-time college support staff belong to OPSEU, contract faculty will be the only workers within the Ontario colleges sector who do not enjoy union representation. They include both part-time faculty, who teach six or fewer hours a week, and sessional faculty, who teach more than 12 hours a week. Kennedy said they risk becoming an “underclass.”
“The CEC continues to deprive contract faculty to express themselves, join a union and receive the same compensation their full-time colleagues enjoy. It’s a grave injustice and completely untenable – particularly in light of Wednesday’s vote count.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas noted that the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act allows the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development to force the CEC to withdraw its objections. “If the CEC won’t do the right thing, Deb Matthews has the power to make them do it – and get those workers’ votes counted,” he said.
“I have no doubt that the great majority of contract faculty have voted in favour of representation by OPSEU,” Thomas added. “The employer obviously thinks so, or else they wouldn’t be fighting tooth and nail to keep the votes from being counted, and the minister knows it, too.
“So I ask her: What are you waiting for, Minister? Your own government passed legislation making unionization easier. Tell the CEC to call off their legal dogs – the lawyers have profited enough. Democracy delayed is democracy denied. Let the workers’ voice be heard – today.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; RM Kennedy, 416-346-8382