On June 13, 2016, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) ruled that part-time support staff at Ontario’s 24 public community colleges will vote on whether to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). According to OPSEU, this will be the largest representation vote in Canadian history.
“This is a great moment in Ontario labour history, and our union is thankful that the Board has opted to hold the vote this month,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said in an OPSEU press release. “Part-time college support staff have literally waited for decades to have the chance to unionize. Their dream of being able to bargain better wages and working conditions, and create provincial standards for both, is now within reach.”
Like in Ontario’s universities, precarious work is a serious problem in the province’s community colleges. Thousands of workers – both academic and in support staff roles – are trapped in insecure positions with low pay and poor access to benefits. This can have negative consequences for individual in precarious work, their families, and their communities. The conditions of precarious work are also a threat to the quality of education offered by Ontario’s colleges and universities.
“In the course of this organizing drive, we’ve talked to workers who’ve been paid with gift cards instead of money. We’ve met people who have been doing the same job for eight years but still can’t get a sick day. College part-timers have no job security, and they seldom get the same wages as full-timers doing the same work,” said Thomas.
The representation votes will be held between June 20 and June 30, 2016. A complete schedule of the votes can be found here.
You can show your support for precarious academic workers using OCUFA’s We Teach Ontario web pledge.