Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

January 29, 2008 10:56 ET

OPSEU: Largest Union Organizing Drive in Ontario History Kicks Into High Gear

TORONTO, ONTARIO and TIMMINS, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 29, 2008) - The drive to win union representation for more than 12,500 Ontario college workers is kicking into high gear this week, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

"Since the launch of our campaign last October we have made significant progress and reached our interim goals for signing up part-time and sessional employees at 24 Ontario community colleges," said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "We now have the machinery in place to reach our final target within the next 10 to 12 weeks. We will be doing everything necessary to be certified as the bargaining agent for these workers as soon as possible."

The largest union drive in Ontario history became possible in June 2007 when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that collective bargaining is a protected right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In August 2007, the McGuinty government announced its intention to recognize bargaining rights for those workers.

Under a strange clause of the complex Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, part-time and sessional workers had been excluded from union membership. The Supreme Court ruling nullified that exclusion, OPSEU says.

Roger Couvrette, president of the provincial organization of part-timers and sessionals, says unionization will have a "positive and noticeable" effect on the quality of education all colleges deliver.

"Dramatically substandard wages and working conditions for part-timers and sessionals are causing a crisis of retention and recruitment for the colleges," Couvrette said. "Part-time faculty and support staff come in to the college, scramble to get up to speed, get discouraged by the poor treatment, and leave. When good employees walk out the door, it's the students who suffer."

Couvrette is on a tour of Northern College and will meet the media at a news conference in Timmins at 10:30 a.m. Campaign organizers at Humber College in Toronto are hosting a media event at their college today at 2:15 p.m.

Contact Information

    Roger Couvrette
    (416) 553-0769 (cell)
    OPSEU Communications
    David Cox
    (416) 443-8888 ext.8314
    (416) 788-9197 (cell)
    OPSEU Local 562, Humber College
    Maureen Wall
    (416) 333-2217 (cell)