Some 3,500 college part-time employees from across the province braved some of the worst winter weather to cast ballots on whether they wanted OPSEU to represent them.
It was a historic vote for people who had only recently won the right to form a union.
Their 30-year battle for union rights was taken up by the International Labour Organization. It was eventually decided by the Supreme Court in a decision that now guarantees union rights.
But, unfortunately, their struggle it isn’t over.
College part-timers cast ballots, but college management doesn’t want their votes counted.
The colleges have gone so far as to ask the Ontario Labour Relations Board to destroy the ballots — destroy the evidence — as if the vote had never happened. College lawyers are using every technical argument available to thwart the democratic wishes of these workers.
How can this be? Part of the reason is the provincial labour board is still hampered by rules enacted by the Mike Harris regime that make it very difficult to certify a union in Ontario. These anti-union rules were not repealed by the McGuinty Liberals: In fact, they carried them into the new Colleges Collective Bargaining Act.
Even more sinister, managers of the 24 colleges have always abused part-time employees and they want to continue their regime of no job security, low wages and terrible working conditions.
For people who are supposedly committed to progressive education for Ontarians, college administrators show a truly regressive attitude toward basic democratic rights.
Just what are they afraid of?
OPSEU is willing to accept the democratic verdict. Why aren’t the colleges?
Just count the ballots.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas