TORONTO – Ontario college presidents need to read the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and quit trying to thwart union organizing, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
“Freedom of association is the right of all Canadians. This includes the right to come together in a union and bargain for better wages and working conditions,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today. “By trying to kick our organizers off campuses, college presidents are violating the Charter. This must stop.”
OPSEU is working to win union rights for thousands of part-time support staff in all 24 Ontario community colleges. Thomas made his remarks at Humber College, one of seven colleges trying to ban union organizing on college property.
“I don’t see any mention of property rights in the Charter,” he said. “And I certainly don’t see any suggestion that property rights trump freedom of association.
“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.”
OPSEU plans to file an Unfair Labour Practice complaint at the Ontario Labour Relations Board. In addition to interfering with organizing, the colleges have inflated the number of part-time support staff as a way to prevent a union vote, the union says.
“To trigger a certification vote, we need to sign up 35 per cent of staff in the part-time support bargaining unit,” Thomas said. “We signed up significantly more staff than that based on the numbers the colleges provided us with last fall. But now they have flooded the list with thousands more people – people no one has heard of. The colleges are acting deliberately to get around the law.”
OPSEU represents more than 20,000 full-time college faculty and support staff across the province.
For more information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas