Unions herald crucial victory for part-time college workers in Ontario

January 10, 2018

The CLC is congratulating thousands of part-time Ontario college workers and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) on an historic victory in the struggle to improve the lives of precarious workers.

In what has been the largest organizing drive in Canada’s history, more than 4,000 part-time Ontario college support staff cast their ballots last year. But an 18-month legal fight launched by the College Employer Council meant the ballot boxes remained sealed until today, when the Ontario Labour Relations Board counted the ballots, resulting in a clear victory for the union: 84 percent of those who cast ballots voted to join OPSEU.

The win means that an estimated 20,000 part-time college support staff, mostly women, including many who work 24 hours or less a week, will join OPSEU and have union representation for the first time.

“Despite facing a myriad of obstacles, these workers were steadfast. They understood that the only way to improve their working conditions, and win on important issues like equal pay for equal work, was to form a union,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

“This is a crucial victory for these college workers, and an inspiring example for all of those in today’s precarious workforce working part-time, on contract or in temporary positions,” he added.

OPSEU’s president, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, said he was looking forward to representing his newest members.

“These workers have laid the foundation for a brighter future for all workers—not only in Ontario, but across the country. We are proud to be their union,” said Thomas.