Labour peace at Ontario colleges for the next 3 years

Nick Westoll
News Reporter

Members of Humber College’s faculty voted in favour of a new contract on Tuesday that will largely mean labour stability for the next three years at college campuses across the province of Ontario.
Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 562, representing faculty, counselors and librarians at Humber, said in a statement Tuesday evening that 36 per cent of eligible Humber faculty members turned out to vote; of those, 58 per cent voted in favour of the new contract which will see a salary increase of 1.2 per cent in the next year followed by increases of 1.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent in the following years.

Faculty from Ontario’s 23 other colleges also cast their ballots. Across the province, college faculty members voted 61 per cent in favour of the new contract, OPSEU said in a statement.
The bargaining teams from OPSEU and the College Employer Council, the body in charge of negotiating on behalf of all colleges in Ontario, unanimously recommended the new contract for approval.
Despite the vote, OPSEU President Warren “Smokey” Thomas warned the government that more improvements are needed.
“College Faculty have ratified this agreement, however the government can expect to hear more from OPSEU on the subject of post-secondary education,” Thomas said in the statement.
Robinson also touted job security improvements and a letter of understanding that prevents the contracting out of full time positions.
Even though the provincial OPSEU bargaining team recommended the new contract, OPSEU Local 562 sent out a memo on Sept. 16 to its members expressing several concerns with the proposed contract.
“There is nothing in [the contract] that improves what’s happening in the classroom,” said North Campus-at-Large steward Paul Michaud.

Michaud said the issue that got the most attention when speaking with his colleagues was the moratorium on staffing grievances as it relates to creating full-time positions in lieu of further part-time contracts.

He said there is no increase in full-time positions.
Michaud said there was concern about salary increases over the term of the contract. He noted the current year’s 1.2 per cent increase is below the present rate of inflation.
Other issues raised included a lack of gains in faculty control over class decisions and marking.
In a statement released on Monday, Humber College’s director of human resources Kathy Cowan Sahadath said she encouraged all faculty to vote.“The agreement continues to recognize the value we place in our faculty while respecting the financial challenges facing the postsecondary education sector,” she said.
A statement from Zak Paget, a spokesman for Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said the government made it clear spending in the new contract would not increase.
“There is no new money for compensation increases and (the provincial government) fully expects employers and bargaining agents to reach responsible settlements that are respectful of fiscal realities and also maintain vital public services,” Paget said.
Michaud and Cowan Sahadath were not available for comment on the unofficial results by press time.
The Ontario Labour Relations Board is expected to officially confirm the results on Oct. 3.