Niagara College part-time support staff pass judgment on unfair treatment

NIAGARA/WELLAND/ST. CATHARINES, ON, Oct. 13 /CNW/ - Part-time support staff at Niagara College campuses will pass judgment on the unfair treatment they've received for years when they vote on whether to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). The vote, which takes place Oct. 15 at Welland campus and Oct. 19 at Niagara-on-the-Lake, is part of the largest union certification vote in Ontario history with up to 10,000 college part-timers eligible to cast votes.

"Part-timers sit side-by-side with full-time staff and do the same work for less pay, no benefits and no guarantee of work from one semester to the next," says Bob Holder, representing Niagara workers. "It's very unfair because they bring the same level of skills, experience and qualifications to the job."

Until last year, it was against the law in Ontario for part-time support staff to unionize. That prompted colleges to hire more part-timers to save money by not having to pay for benefits and decent wages, both of which were won by full-timers through collective bargaining.

"What does it say about our province when institutions like our colleges offer nothing more than precarious, part-time, temporary work to more than 60 per cent of support staff?" adds Holder. "We need good jobs with decent wages and benefits in order to raise our families and build strong communities."

About half of college part-timers are student workers involved in financial assistance programs like the Ontario Work Study Plan, says OPSEU student organizer Kiera Chion. "Students at the colleges have no voice and little recognition for what they contribute," she says. "Student work is real work, and I don't think the colleges appreciate that."

The vote is supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board and takes place on specific dates at college campuses from Oct. 5 to 27. Vote times and locations are available at OPSEU represents over 16,000 full-time support and academic staff at Ontario's colleges.

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information: For further information: Bob Holder, (905) 735-2211 ext 7792; Kiera Chion, (647) 201-8799 (cell)

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