Part-time contract college staff added to OPSEU union News

The rally at Queen’s Park on Nov. 2 (Brett McGarry)

By: Adriana Di Santo

Today marks a new beginning for part-time contract college support staff across Ontario as they are now part of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

“It’s a very happy time for part-time support staff,” Warren “Smokey” Thomas, president of OPSEU said. “You can’t live a full-time life on a part-time job”

Thomas said the employer, Ontario’s 24 community colleges, will be served a ‘Notice to Bargain’ which is given by the union to begin collective bargaining.

“We will negotiate toward getting equal pay for equal work; a grievance procedure, seniority provision, benefits – to name but a few items.” Thomas said.

Marlee Greig, creative advisor in the journalism program at Humber College, said she thinks joining the union will be beneficial for part-time contract support staff.

“I think it’s great if 20,000 employees voted 84 per cent in favour,” Greig said. “This is overwhelming proof that that all these employees think this is the best possible avenue for them and their futures.

“It’s a long process of joining the union, but knowing that I will be employed year after year without having to wait until September for a contract is important for me and a lot of people,” she said.

Part-time support workers have been trying to unionize for the past 14 years. The vote was held in June 2016, but because of legal issues, ballots were only counted this week.

“My generation screwed the younger generation up, there’s no available full-time work for new post-secondary graduates,” Thomas said.

Although this is a big victory for OPSEU, this will likely not happen for a couple of months to a year.

“The employer claims they don’t have the money for improvements, so if necessary, we will lobby the government to increase college funding,” Thomas said.

“We also question the employers claim that they have no money, because they had a huge surplus last year.”

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