Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

January 22, 2008 07:30 ET

OPSEU Organizing Drive Escalates Into War Over Free Speech at Algonquin College

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 22, 2008) - The drive to win union rights for part-time and sessional employees at Ontario's colleges has turned into a war over freedom of speech at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

The college has told the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) that it cannot put up posters or even talk face-to-face about the union organizing drive in common areas on campus during breaks.

"This blatant censorship of a legitimate and legal activity is an outrageous violation of the rights of staff at Algonquin," said Roger Couvrette, president of the provincial organization of part-timers and sessionals. "The college has no right to stop workers from finding out about the organizing drive."

Couvrette said the college is violating Section Two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association, among other things. He and other OPSEU activists plan to poster the college with copies of the charter at a news event today at 10:30 a.m.

The OPSEU organizing drive, which covers 24 community colleges and more than 12,500 workers, is the largest union organizing drive in Ontario history.

"When we are able to talk to part-timers and sessionals about signing a union card, the overwhelming majority do so without hesitation," said Couvrette. "Algonquin knows that the only way to stop us is to stop workers from finding out about the campaign, but it won't work.

"If workers in the past had waited for permission from the boss to join unions, they would still be waiting today," he said. "We're not waiting. We're talking to our co-workers about what collective bargaining can do for us all, and we will continue to do so."

Couvrette called Algonquin's opposition to the organizing drive "short-sighted."

"Good college managers know that better jobs for part-timers and sessionals will improve recruitment and retention of these employees and, in turn, improve education quality for the students we all serve."

Contact Information

  • Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
    Roger Couvrette
    Cell: (416) 553-0769
    Website: www.opseu.org