Toronto – The issue of precarious work was high on the agenda for college faculty, students, and their supporters at a raucous rally at Queen’s Park today.
“The fight for equal pay for equal work, to get rid of precarious jobs, to have more full-time jobs, that’s the exact right fight,” the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) told thousands of faculty who bused in from across the province. “You’re at the pointy edge of that fight, and you’re making a difference for everybody.”
The OPSEU bargaining team for over 12,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians returned to the bargaining table with the College Employer Council this morning. It was the first time the two sides had met since faculty went on strike October 16.
Treatment of contract faculty at the colleges has been a sticking point in talks. Some 70 per cent of all college faculty work on short-term (usually four-month) contracts with sub-standard wages and no job security. Some are in the striking bargaining unit; others are non-union but voted in an OPSEU representation vote earlier this month.
“With Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Betters Jobs Act, in committee this week, I’m calling on the government to recognize that, when it comes to precarious work, our colleges are the eye of the storm,” Thomas said following the rally. “Contract faculty and part-time staff have been doing the same great work as their full-time colleagues but they’ve been treated as second-class citizens in the workplace.
“This has to stop,” he said. “The colleges need to wake up and realize that we are in a new era. That means bargaining in good faith to treat contract faculty fairly, and it means recognizing bargaining rights for those who do not yet have a collective voice.”
Thomas also called on the colleges to realize that faculty need more say in academic decisions if they are to equip students for an ever-changing workforce. He called on the colleges to take concrete steps to include faculty and students alike in the planning and oversight of programs and courses.
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931