Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

March 26, 2008 10:11 ET

Dofasco Arrangement is Good Bargaining Model for College Part-Timers, OPSEU Says

HAMILTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 26, 2008) - The new collective bargaining arrangement between Dofasco and the United Steelworkers points the way for Ontario's community colleges to begin contract talks immediately with college part-timers, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

"The Dofasco model shows how bargaining can take place prior to union certification, subject to workers voting in favour of the collective agreement that results," said Roger Couvrette, president of the provincial organization of part-timers and sessionals (OPSECAAT). "College part-timers and sessionals have been denied bargaining rights for 34 years - by a piece of legislation that we now know is unconstitutional - and they've waited long enough.

"We are reiterating our invitation to the colleges: 'Come to the bargaining table now.'"

In 2007, after an unusual chain of events, OPSEU launched the largest union organizing drive in Ontario history. As the union was pressuring the province to change the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA) to lift the ban on unionization of part-timers and sessionals, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that collective bargaining is a protected right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Weeks later, the McGuinty government announced its intention to recognize bargaining rights for the excluded college workers. Organizing began in October.

A review of the CCBA by Kevin Whitaker, Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, recommended in January 2008 that "Part-time employees should be immediately granted the right to unionize."

Two weeks ago, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas wrote to the colleges, saying "part-time and sessional college employees have expressed a strong desire to be represented by OPSEU" and calling for voluntary collective bargaining to begin right away.

"All parties to this issue have agreed that college part-timers should have bargaining rights," said Couvrette. "The only question that remains is when, and as a part-timer myself, I'm impatient.

"There's no time like the present for bargaining to start," he said, "and there's no good reason for it not to."

Contact Information

    Roger Couvrette
    (416) 553-0769