Union and Ontario colleges reach agreement for part-time staff

Union says two-year agreement is a ‘big victory’ while colleges say it maintains operational flexibility

Over 20,000 part-time support staff at Ontario colleges have a deal.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has reached its first-ever collective agreement with the College Employer Council (CEC) for part-time support workers at Ontario colleges.

After nine months of negotiations, the union’s bargaining team has recommended members accept the deal. The union will organize meetings for members to go over the details and ratification votes will be set up in the coming weeks.

OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the agreement will affect part-time support workers “in a number of very positive ways.”

Examples include an eligibility for a new pension plan, wage increases, how jobs are posted, and health and safety benefits. 

Pension Plan:  Part-time staff will be eligible for an affordable, stable and secure pension plan as soon as they are hired by a college. The new plan is called DBplus and is provided by the CAAT Pension Plan. 

Wage Increases: There will be a 1.5 per cent wage increase effective Jan. 2, 2019 and another expected 1.5 per cent increase effective Jan. 31, 2020. Staff who work after 5 p.m. will earn extra 75 cents per hour and 1 dollar per hour after midnight. 

Job Postings: All regular part-time jobs must be posted. Members will be considered for roles based on qualifications, experiences and seniority. 

Health and Safety: Employees will have allowances for mandated eye wear, foot wear and clothing. Staff will also be entitled to ergonomic work stations. 

Thomas said some of the key changes include a requirement for two-weeks notice being given for schedule changes, and protected leaves such as bereavement leave which was not provided before to part-time support workers.

There is also vacation language in the agreement and protection for workers filing grievances according to Thomas. He said the agreement contains language protecting against sexual and psychological harassment as well as bullying.

“It maintains the college’s operational flexibility to meet the services and meet the commitment to students,” said Don Sinclair, chief executive officer of CEC. “It also ensures that student opportunities are still available to them in their academic studies.”

Sinclair said that the ratification vote will be held in late February, and if ratified the agreement would last until January 2021.

The CEC bargaining website said that over half of the workers represented in the agreement are also students.

Part-time support staff roles can include administrative assistants, teaching assistants, lab technicians, maintenance staff, and help desk analysts.

Sinclair said that part-time support workers can contact their OPSEU support staff local union to get a copy of the agreement.

More information on the bargaining updates and the new pension plan can be found here

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Union and Ontario colleges reach agreement for part-time staff