OPSEU/SEFPO’s part-time college support bargaining team is focusing on its final preparations before it faces the employer later this year, fuelled by united support from the union’s entire membership.
On January 29, part-time CAAT-S delegates gathered virtually for their final demand-set meeting, which was very ably steered by Bargaining Team Chair Lisa Lavigne.
The demand set process is driven by the members and has multiple steps. Delegates had last met November 6-7 to elect their bargaining team:
Lisa Lavigne, Chair, Local 349
Nour Askandar, Vice-Chair, Local 557
Dale Gartshore, Local 124
Rick Townend, Local 109
David Brooks, Local 241
Denise Martinez, Local 561
Julie Davis, Local 351
Following that meeting, locals were tasked with holding general membership meetings to vote and rank their bargaining priorities. It’s all part of OPSEU/SEFPO’s democratic DNA, whereby members – not just union’s leadership or the bargaining team – decide what is brought to the bargaining table.
Both President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida were present at the final demand-set meeting and assured members the union would give the bargaining team all the support it needed.
“OPSEU/SEFPO will back you up to the hilt,” Thomas assured delegates. “Our professional negotiators, campaigns and communications teams, researchers and legal team will be there to support the team in every way possible. If the employer thinks this is going to be a walk in the park, they’re mistaken.”
First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida spoke about his deep pride in the long road that part-time college support members had to take to get to OPSEU/SEFPO – and in the union’s renowned ability to make meaningful gains at the bargaining table.
“If the employer says this or that demand is a no-go, we don’t just throw up our hands,” Almeida explained. “We look for a way around the obstacle the employer’s thrown down. Being nimble, flexible and creative can often get us exactly where we want to go.”
Union staff made a number of presentations that laid the groundwork for bargaining, including issues of concern to the division, the economic landscape, and the union’s plan to mobilize the membership. The afternoon was given over to ranking the demands.
Lavigne said she was extremely happy with the way the meeting went – and the energy that fuelled it.
“Throughout the meeting, I felt a real sense of unity and common purpose, born out of a multi-year struggle for fairness and legal recognition,” she noted. “The members have our back – and the grit they’re known for is going to help propel us to success. I can’t wait to get to the table.”
Equipped with their demand set, the bargaining team will now spend some time to focus on fine-tuning their strategy and writing proposals to present to the College Employer Council, which they will soon meet at the negotiating table. They come away from the demand-set meeting knowing they can count on the support of all 170,000 OPSEU/SEFPO members, who will support them every step of the way.