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Unfair treatment, precarious work at heart of union vote


TORONTO – Unfair treatment and precarious working conditions are at the heart of an October vote by part-time support staff at Ontario’s 24 community colleges on whether to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Up to 10,000 part-timers are eligible to cast ballots in the largest union certification vote in Ontario history.

“We do exactly the same work as full-timers, and bring the same level of skills, experience and qualifications to the job, yet we get lower pay, we have no benefits, and we have no guarantee of work from one semester to the next,” says Candy Lindsay, who has worked part-time at Fleming College for 11 years. “The colleges have perpetuated this unfair treatment for decades. It’s unacceptable to treat people like this.”

Until last year, it was against the law in Ontario for part-time support staff to unionize. That prompted colleges to hire more part-timers to save money by not having to pay full-time wage rates and benefits. The roughly 10,000 part-time college support staff now outnumber their 7,000 full-time colleagues.

 “This vote is about the kind of Ontario we want to live in,” says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. Do we want a province of precarious, part-time, temporary jobs, or one that offers good jobs with decent pay and benefits so families and communities can thrive?”

About half of college part-timers are student workers involved in financial assistance programs like the Ontario Work Study Plan, says OPSEU student organizer Kiera Chion. “Students at the colleges have no voice and little recognition for what they contribute,” she says. “Student work is real work, and I don’t think the colleges appreciate that.”

The vote is supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board and will take place on specific dates at college campuses from Oct. 5 to 27. Vote times and locations are available at www.collegeworkers.org .

OPSEU represents over 16,000 full-time support and academic staff at Ontario’s colleges.

Local Contacts:

ALGONQUIN: Devon Ford (613) 762-3103

BORÉAL:  J.L. Roy (705) 665-5082

CAMBRIAN: Michel Bisaillon (416) 458-8108

CANADORE:  Michel Bisaillon (416) 458-8108

CENTENNIAL: Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799, Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042

CONESTOGA: Kathryn Richards (519) 497-9985

CONFEDERATION:  Richard Belleau (807) 621-1265

DURHAM: Rick Nemisz (905) 721-2000 x2589

FANSHAWE:  Marg Rae (519) 280-2128

FLEMING: Judy Nisbett (705) 749-5530 ext. 1611 (day) or (705) 743-2594

GEORGE BROWN:      Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799, Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042

GEORGIAN: Michel Bisaillon (416) 458-8108

HUMBER:  Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799, Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042

LA CITÉ:  J.L. Roy (705) 665-5082

LAMBTON: Marg Rae (519) 280-2128

LOYALIST: Jennifer Bryan  (613) 921-1798

MOHAWK:  Tracy Prokipczuk (905) 577-2266

NIAGARA: Bob Holder (289) 213-3788

NORTHERN:  Lucille Lachance (705) 235-7111 (day) or (705) 465-2767

SAULT:    J.L. Roy (705) 665-5082

SENECA:   Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799, Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042

SHERIDAN:  Frederick Oliver (416) 567-0719

ST. CLAIR: Marg Rae (519) 280-2128

For more information:

Valerie Dugale (647) 225-3685 (cell) Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042 (cell) Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799 (cell)