Much has happened concerning the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) within the post-secondary education sector. Below, we explain how these recent changes may impact Ontario’s college students:
OPSEU has confirmed to CSA that students should not be worried the Charter challenge will negatively affect this school year, or any upcoming school year.
OPSEU challenged the Government of Ontario on Bill 178, back-to-work legislation, saying it violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Currently, this case is before the Ontario Superior Court. Though this is a legitimate court challenge, OPSEU has said the challenge is more about setting a precedent by standing up for workers’ rights. We expect this challenge to take 3-7 years in the legal system before a verdict is given. A verdict in favour of the union will not necessarily mean the back-to-work legislation is overturned, or the collective agreement is voided, but it could result in a payment from the government to compensate for damages. Because of the uncertainty of the verdict and the time it may take, there could be a number of different remedies either the court decrees or the parties agree to.
PART-TIME SUPPORT STAFF
In June 2016, part-time support staff across Ontario colleges voted on whether or not to join OPSEU. Due to legal challenges, the ballots were not counted and shared until January 2018. With 84% of those voting choosing to join OPSEU, the union now represents part-time support workers on Ontario college campuses, including many students.
Here are some facts students should be aware of:
A part-time support worker is someone who works less than 24 hrs/week and is paid by the college
Students will have to pay union dues
Students would be entitled to all the benefits that come with being part of a union
Part-time support staff will probably join the local union chapter already on campus
In event of a strike, all staff are required to picket 20 hrs/week, including students. Students academic careers are the primary concern; they will not be asked to skip class or anything of the nature
The first collective agreement will be negotiated soon between OPSEU and the College Employer Council (CEC)
As we continue to gather more information and talk to OPSEU, we will update this information.
CONTRACT FACULTY VOTE
In October of 2017, contract faculty across Ontario colleges voted on whether or not to join OPSEU. Contract faculty includes part-time faculty and sessional faculty. The results of the vote are currently with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Since CEC has challenged the vote, the results will not be known until the legal issues are sorted. Once more information is available, CSA will share it with our members.
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