College support staff ratify its first contract

by | Feb 25, 2019 | Biz/Tech, Headlines

Druv Sareen, Biz/Tech Reporter

Part-time support staff across Ontario’s 24 colleges voted on Feb. 21 to ratify a deal between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the College Employer Council (CEC).

This deal is the first regarding part-time support staff on campuses. Under this deal, part-time support staff will see a 3 per cent pay increase over two years, seniority, consideration for full-time openings and a shift premium.

Part-time support staff include those who work a maximum of 24 hours per week. Support staff work for academic services like the registrar’s office and financial aid.

OPSEU described its 14-year struggle to organize the 20,000 part-timers, about half who are students, as the largest in Canadian labour history.

Ontario Public Service Employee Unions ratified on Feb. 21 the tentative deal reached with the College Employer Council.

CEO of the CEC Don Sinclair anticipated the deal to be ratified at the Feb 21 vote.

“I think it achieves a number of objectives for the union and also achieves a number of objectives for the colleges” Sinclair said. “It will provide a consistent terms and conditions of employment over the 24 entities.”

He views the deal positively. The deal took 40 days of bargaining over nine months to reach, Sinclair said.

“It also will maintain our regional flexibility to maintain services for students and also also maintain those job opportunities for students,” he said. “I think overall it was a win-win.”

The bargaining team, however, viewed the process differently.

“The CEC wants to keep everybody in the dark,” said Duncan McFarlane, vice-chair of the bargaining team and from Algonquin College in Ottawa. “That’s my opinion.

“The CEC, they don’t want to give us rights,” he said. “They want the status quo. That was probably something that we heard every single time we met with them.”

Humber’s Local 563 Vice-President Bill Townsend has his own issues with the deal.

“I think that there’s some serious deficiencies in the language and that there’s some stuff that they should look at again, but to do so they’re going to have to go back to the bargaining table,” Townsend said.

Marlee Greig, a Humber contract support staff, said they believe the deal doesn’t address the right issues facing campuses.

“The union contract does not address the fact that en mass, post-secondary institutions are only hiring part-time workers,” Greig said. “They’re hiring all these administrative people who make really good money, and they’re good jobs, but they aren’t hiring people to be in classrooms with students.”