OPSEU College Support/Soutien. College Support Full-Time.

Stability, experience mark election of CAAT-S bargaining team

Orange and white OPSEU College Support logo

November 12-13, 2021 marked the start of the collective bargaining process for College Full-Time Support (CAAT-S) staff from Ontario’s 24 public colleges.

In opening the conference, OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas praised members for the strength, resilience and creativity demonstrated during the pandemic, noting their experience would position them well for bargaining.

“You’ve come out of it more confident than ever in terms of your ability to do things in different, even better ways,” Thomas said. “I know you’ll bring that confidence to the bargaining table and put your experience to good use to negotiate a very solid contract.

“This experience will also drive greater interest and renewed solidarity and activism among the membership,” he added. “They’ll play a key support role by backing the bargaining team you’ll elect today – a group of skilled and seasoned negotiators who’ll work with the members to develop a strong bargaining strategy.”

Janice Hagan, chair of the CAAT-S Divisional Executive, spoke about the importance of solidarity and engagement by members in the bargaining process, considering the large numbers of members who have joined the union since the last full bargaining process in 2014.

The delegates were presented with several engaging and thought-provoking presentations from OPSEU/SEFPO staff and the outgoing bargaining team, which provided an overview of the bargaining environment CAAT-S members will be going into, as well as offering direction and ideas for locals to engage their members.

The next order of business was for delegates to elect a bargaining team, the highlight of any pre-bargaining conference. Under the leadership of Staff Negotiator Ceceil Beckford, the elections went smoothly and ensured everyone’s participation.

Here are your new bargaining team members. Congratulations and thanks to all!

Chair: Rasho Donchev, Local 559
Vice-Chair: Christine Kelsey, Local 416
Daniel Brisson, Local 672
Shelley Gartshore, Local 124
Robert Holder, Local 243
Michael McKeown, Local 353
Veneise Samuels, Local 557

On Saturday morning, elections continued, this time for the Employer Employee Relations Committee and alternates, and the following members got the nod:

Chair: Daniel Brisson, Local 672
Vice-Chair: Megan Carter, Local 557
Angela Foster, Local 349
Robert Holder, Local 243
Michael McKeown, Local 353

To round out the conference, OPSEU/SEFPO equity staff engaged the attendees in a powerful anti-racism, Indigenization and employment equity discussion.

The bargaining team is already hard at work setting timelines and supports for all union locals. They have been organizing lunch-and-learns for members and engaging local executive committees in the bargaining process and demand setting.

“The team will continuously engage our members while keeping a finger on the pulse of the political and bargaining environment,” said Bargaining Team Chair Rasho Donchev.

Local demand-setting meetings will take place In January. The bargaining team will ensure the demands submitted by locals are collated and presented to all members of the CAAT-S bargaining unit. A survey with these demands will be send to members to fill out. The results will be used to set priorities for bargaining.