Ontario tries to block tally of part-time college vote | National Union of Public and General Employees

Ontario tries to block tally of part-time college vote

OPSEU seeking Ontario Labour Relations Board hearing as soon as possible to resolve the impasse.

Toronto (3 Nov. 2009) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) says the Ontario government is still fighting to prevent a union from representing part-time employees at the province's 24 community colleges.

The vote, ordered by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), to decide whether OPSEU should represent these workers concluded Oct. 27. "By all reports the vote was an overwhelming YES," OPSEU says. "More than 1,500 workers voted from the first day to the last."

“In my conversations with part-timers on different campuses I really didn’t come across people who were negative,” adds Nelson Ross Laguna, an OPSEU campaigns officer who spent three weeks talking to part-timers about the vote.

“The people we spoke to were eager to hear about the vote and they wanted to know more about joining the union and about collective bargaining. They were enthusiastic,” Laguna says.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas congratulated the workers who voted and the union organizers who got out the vote. “There is no power greater than workers who are united towards a common purpose,” he said.

Yet the province is still trying to throw up roadblocks and prevent part-time workers from enjoying the benefits of collective bargaining, OPSEU says.

"The next challenge in the part-time support campaign is to get the ballot boxes opened and the votes counted. The ballot boxes are sealed because college lawyers have served notice that they are challenging the union’s application," the union notes.

“The Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA) requires the union to demonstrate that 35% of workers in the bargaining unit at the time of the application have signed union cards and want a vote to be held,” says OPSEU organizer Connie Huziak.

“The colleges seem to believe that we did not reach that level and that therefore the vote should not count. This is a strange thing to say given that college management was encouraging part-timers to vote but in the end it won’t matter,” she said. “We did meet the threshold and we will be able to demonstrate that before the labour relations board.”

OPSEU is working to get an OLRB hearing as soon as possible.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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