TORONTO – The union representing thousands of part-time support staff at Ontario’s 24 public colleges says it is pleased with the result of a ratification vote which saw members overwhelmingly approve a new three-year collective agreement.
“Our college system can’t begin to operate without part-time support staff,” noted OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “They’re an indispensable component of the college system. So I’m very pleased they’ve got a new collective agreement and happy for hundreds of thousands of Ontario students.”
Part-time college support staff had been without a contract since February 1, 2021. This is their second collective agreement since they became OPSEU/SEFPO members in 2019 following an epic organizing drive – the largest in Canadian history. The deal provides for a one per cent annual wage increase – the maximum allowed under Bill 124 – and carries important job-security measures.
Lisa Lavigne, the union bargaining team’s chair, is pleased with the result of the vote.
“Not only did we push back on all 24 concessions the employer brought to the table, but we also made significant gains, particularly in terms of job security,” she said. “This is exactly what we needed in the light of the extensive layoffs and hours reductions our members took after COVID.
“I’m very proud of this agreement, proud of the team and proud of the members, who placed their confidence in us. They deserve the best possible agreement, and I believe we delivered it.”
“OPSEU/SEFPO is the most democratic union in North America,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “I thought this was a good agreement, but the members are the ones who decide – and they’re always right. It will serve them well over the next three years and will be a great stepping stone for more gains in the next round of bargaining.”
Thomas praised the seven-member bargaining team and professional staff for their hard work over many months.
“Behind every great collective agreement is a great bargaining team,” he noted. “It’s their months of preparation and their determination at the bargaining table that got the results. I’m also grateful to OPSEU/SEFPO’s staff who supported the team. They continue to be a key part of the OPSEU/SEFPO advantage.”