For fifty years, part-time support staff in the colleges didn’t a have unified voice representing their concerns to college management.
That changed in January 2018 when OPSEU/SEFPO was certified as the bargaining agent for part-time support workers in the 24 colleges after a 14-year fight to unionize precarious college workers.
Then in February 2019, these union members made history when they ratified their first ever collective agreement. It contained some good things that part-time college support staff had never had. Members saw it as a foundation agreement to build upon in subsequent rounds of bargaining.
This first contract expires January 31, 2021. The time to build the new agreement is coming up fast.
More than 70 delegates, alternates and observers will meet virtually on Zoom for the College Support Part-Time Pre-Bargaining Conference, November 6 and 7. The purpose of the conference is to talk about the issues relevant to the upcoming round of bargaining and to elect a bargaining team and alternates, as well as a chair and vice-chair of the team. Delegates and alternates were elected at virtual meetings held in September by College Support locals.
OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida will bring messages of solidarity and support to part-time support staff on behalf of the union’s 170,000 members.
The elected leaders of the College Support Part-Time Division in OPSEU/SEFPO, the Divisional Executive Committee and the Employee/Employer Relations Committee, will report on their work advocating for part-time college support workers. Union staff will give presentations on the bargaining process, timelines and relevant legislation.
As well, there will be a great opportunity for cross-collaboration between part-time support staff, full-time support staff and college faculty. Leaders from faculty and support full-time will share their negotiating experiences and bargaining team members for support part-time in 2018-19 will talk about the lessons learned from last time.
The elections for seven bargaining team members, 14 alternates and a chair and vice-chair of the bargaining team will happen Saturday morning.
Following the Pre-Bargaining Conference, College Support locals will organize virtual meetings for part-time support members to identify their bargaining priorities. These are called Local Demand-Setting Meetings. At these meetings, members will vote on the bargaining demands they want the team to take into bargaining.
Demands from these local meetings are due at Head Office by Friday, December 18. The local demands are tabulated and presented to the Final Demand-Setting meeting, to be held virtually January 29-30, 2021. At this meeting, delegates will vote on the demands, thereby arriving at a list of final demands for the bargaining of the new collective agreement.