Unfair treatment, precarious work at heart of union vote for part-time
college support staff

TORONTO, Sept. 28 /CNW/ - Unfair treatment and precarious working conditions are at the heart of an October vote by part-time support staff at Ontario's 24 community colleges on whether to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Up to 10,000 part-timers are eligible to cast ballots in the largest union certification vote in Ontario history.

"We do exactly the same work as full-timers, and bring the same level of skills, experience and qualifications to the job, yet we get lower pay, we have no benefits, and we have no guarantee of work from one semester to the next," says Candy Lindsay, who has worked part-time at Fleming College for 11 years. "The colleges have perpetuated this unfair treatment for decades. It's unacceptable to treat people like this."

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. The roughly 10,000 part-time college support staff now outnumber their 7,000 full-time colleagues.

According to OPSEU President Smokey Thomas, "This college vote is about the kind of Ontario we want to live in. Do we want a province of precarious, part-time, temporary work or one that offers good jobs with decent pay and benefits so families and communities can thrive?"

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." She adds that many students are in dire financial straits, in part because Ontario has the second-highest college tuition fees in Canada.

The vote is supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board and will take place on specific dates at college campuses from Oct. 5 to 27. Vote times and locations are available at www.collegeworkers.org.

OPSEU represents over 16,000 full-time support and academic staff at Ontario's colleges.


    ALGONQUIN:      Devon Ford (613) 762-3103
    BORÉAL:         J.L. Roy (705) 665-5082
    CAMBRIAN:       Michel Bisaillon (416) 458-8108
    CANADORE:       Michel Bisaillon (416) 458-8108
    CENTENNIAL:     Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799, Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042
    CONESTOGA:      Kathryn Richards (519) 497-9985
    CONFEDERATION:  Richard Belleau (807) 621-1265
    DURHAM:         Rick Nemisz (905) 721-2000 x2589
    FANSHAWE:       Marg Rae (519) 280-2128
    FLEMING:        Judy Nisbett (705) 749-5530 x1611 (day) or (705) 743-2594
    GEORGE BROWN:   Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799, Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042
    GEORGIAN:       Michel Bisaillon (416) 458-8108
    HUMBER:         Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799, Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042
    LA CITÉ:        J.L. Roy (705) 665-5082
    LAMBTON:        Marg Rae (519) 280-2128
    LOYALIST:       Jennifer Bryan  (613) 921-1798
    MOHAWK:         Tracy Prokipczuk (905) 577-2266
    NIAGARA:        Bob Holder (289) 213-3788
    NORTHERN:       Lucille Lachance (705) 235-7111 (day) or (705) 465-2767
    SAULT:          J.L. Roy (705) 665-5082
    SENECA:         Kiera Chion (647) 201-8799, Candy Lindsay (416) 254-9042
    SHERIDAN:       Frederick Oliver (416) 567-0719
    ST. CLAIR:      Marg Rae (519) 280-2128
    ST. LAWRENCE:   Betty Cree (705) 875-4150


For further information: For further information: Valerie Dugale, (647) 225-3685 (cell); Candy Lindsay, (416) 254-9042 (cell); Kiera Chion, (647) 201-8799 (cell)

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