Update: The Ongoing Fight for College Faculty Part-Time and Sessional Union Certification

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We bring you an important update regarding the protracted journey toward union certification for part-time and sessional faculty that has been met with continued resistance from the College Employer Council (CEC).

Some Background on the fight for Union Certification

It’s been an excruciating six years since contract faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges voted on whether to join OPSEU/SEFPO, Ontario’s largest public sector labour union.

The CEC has employed every conceivable tactic to prevent the counting of the ballots, expending millions of taxpayer dollars in the process. They have delayed providing information and responding to the Union.

Despite the clear demonstration of surpassing the 35 per cent threshold in card support in 2017, the CEC raised an objection under Section 31 of the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA), challenging that support. This objection forced the sealing of the ballot box and initiated a protracted six-year process of verifying the voters’ list.

It is crucial to underscore that the CEC has the power to withdraw their objection under S.31 of the CCBA at any moment, enabling the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to count the ballots and move forward. The CEC’s objection has been the primary barrier preventing the conclusion of our union certification process for six years.

The CEC can end the delays by either voluntarily agreeing to unionization or agreeing to open the ballot boxes.

Instead, the CEC continues delay tactics in a shameful bid to save money for a few more years on the backs of vulnerable faculty.

In 2016, the CEC employed similar tactics when 20,000 part-time college support staff voted on whether to join OPSEU/SEFPO after a 14-year-long campaign. It took almost two years before all the CEC’s challenges were dismissed by the OLRB. When the ballots were finally counted, an overwhelming 84 per cent were in favour of joining the union, marking it the largest organizing drive the Canadian labour movement has ever witnessed.

We are certain that, in the end, the ballots will be counted – and we’re extremely confident the vote will be in favour of joining OPSEU/SEFPO.

Where We Stand Today

A recent decision by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) on September 22, 2023 has provided a timetable for resolving the CEC’s objection. The CEC will now have to meet specific deadlines to provide information.

Meetings to resolve outstanding duplicates and finalize employee lists for various colleges will occur on October 26, November 6, November 16, November 27, and December 15, 2023.

The OLRB has scheduled hearings in January and March 2024 to resolve final issues.

We look forward to concluding this process. Part-time and sessional faculty members have gone without union representation and protection for too long!

Thank you for your continuing support and solidarity!