The drive to organize part-time college faculty and support workers in Ontario
Toronto (23 May 2007) - The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is supporting the drive to organize part-time college faculty and support workers in Ontario.
Ontario is the only province in Canada with a law prohibiting such workers from becoming union members.
The statute violates an International Labour Organization (ILO) accord guaranteeing the right of workers to associate with one another and to bargain collectively. Canada is a signatory to the ILO accord but unfortunately it looks the other way when governments fail to honour their international obligations.
The federation announced Tuesday that it has endorsed the current campaign by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) to organize sessional and part-time employees and to win full collective bargaining rights on their behalf.
The Organization of Part-time and Sessional Employees of the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (OPSECAAT) was formed last November, shortly after the International Labour Organization (ILO) ruled that part-timers should have the same right to unionize and bargain collectively "as any other workers."
A demand for fairness
“Students in Ontario support part-time college workers in their demand for fairness,” says Jesse Greener, Ontario Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students.
Ontario has the second highest income per capita of any province in Canada, but is ranked ninth in terms of per student funding.
Colleges have been reacting to the under-funding by hiring part-time employees who do not receive health care coverage, dental care, life insurance benefits, job security or severance pay. From 1989 to 2004, the number of full-time equivalent students in Ontario colleges rose 53% while the number of full-time faculty fell by 22%.
Students are now raising alarm bells about the poor working conditions for faculty and staff and the spillover this has on students in the form of reduced quality of education.
“College working conditions are students’ learning conditions,” says Greener. “College workers have to take on several jobs just to make ends meet. This has a negative impact on the quality of the learning at institutions across Ontario,” she says.
“Students suffer when workers suffer from poor wages and poor working conditions,” Greener adds. “The government needs to give all workers, especially vulnerable part-time staff, the right to become union members and to collectively negotiate fair working conditions and compensation.” NUPGE