Colleges must stand for good jobs


Dear friends,

I’ve said it before: there aren’t enough good jobs out there.

Too many jobs are part-time, or temporary. Too many jobs have low wages and no benefits. Too many jobs are insecure and precarious.

Queen’s Park is worried about it. Our Premier, Kathleen Wynne, is looking at ways to change our employment laws so more jobs are good jobs. I’ve given her a lot of suggestions, as have hundreds of Ontarians.

Now I’ve got another one: tell your community colleges to get with the program.

Right now, OPSEU is working to organize part-time support staff at all 24 colleges across the province.

We’ve signed up thousands of people already. When we have enough, we will apply to be certified as their bargaining agent.

But lately, things have changed. Several colleges – not all – have been interfering with our campaign. College managers are telling our organizers to leave. In one case at Northern College, they even told us we couldn’t sign union cards in the union office.

Clearly, this is not in keeping with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We have the right to speak freely in this country. But there’s another problem: the colleges should be supporting our organizing drive – not opposing it.

Students go to college to get the skills they need to land good jobs. And if they’re lucky, they’ll get a union job. Because no matter what your education, a union job is a better job. And colleges should recognize that.

The colleges seem to forget that they are public entities, supported by public dollars. In reality, the Premier is their boss. So when she says we need to do something about precarious work, they ought to listen.

There is no better cure for precarious work than giving workers a voice. And there’s no better voice for workers than a union.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

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