Setting the Agenda and Educating Queen’s Park

| 22/09/2017

Faculty educate MPPs, media at Queen’s Park lobby day 

College faculty are setting the agenda in this round of collective bargaining.

Thirty-one faculty members from across the province were at Queen’s Park Wednesday to educate MPPs about two of the critically important issues the union has put on the table: education quality, and fairness for faculty.

“I think it is incredibly important to educate legislators and reporters about what is at stake in our negotiations, especially when it comes to collegial governance and fair treatment for contract faculty,” said JP Hornick, chair of the college faculty bargaining team. “We had more than 20 MPPs at our kick-off breakfast, our news conference was well attended, and we did one-on-one meetings with MPPs all day. 

“I don’t think the lobby could have gone any better, and I want to congratulate all the members who attended and all the OPSEU staff who helped make it happen.” 

One of the MPPs who attended the breakfast, and spoke, was Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. Matthews, who serves as Deputy Premier, is widely seen as the most powerful person in cabinet, next to the Premier.

While Matthews was noncommittal on faculty issues, saying she would leave bargaining to the bargaining table, she gave those issues a respectful hearing. Regarding job security and equal pay for equal work for contract faculty, Matthews said, “We understand the issue and we want to be part of the solution.”

Later in the day, in response to a question in the legislature from London West MPP Peggy Sattler, Matthews welcomed the OPSEU delegation. “It is impossible to imagine our province without colleges, and I just want to take this opportunity to thank the people who make our colleges great, and that is the faculty.”

MPP Sattler’s questions focused on job security and equal pay for equal work.

“The issue of precarious employment in our colleges is a very real and live issue,” Matthews said in response. “We recognize this issue, and the Minister of Labour has introduced Bill 148 that actually starts to address this issue.”

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn expressed optimism about collective bargaining, noting that it seldom ends in strike action. Flynn then praised his own Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act,underscoring that “the intent… is to inject more fairness” into workplaces.

“Bill 148 is far from perfect, but it has utterly changed the context of our negotiations with respect to contract faculty,” said JP Hornick. “It is encouraging to see that top government ministers understand that, but it is critical that all MPPs understand it as well. So I want to underscore just how important it is for faculty to be calling their MPPs and letting them know what we need and what they can do to help. 

“With the ‘click-to-call’ feature on our website at collegefaculty.org, calling your MPP couldn’t be any easier.” 

At the morning news conference Wednesday, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas called on the government to step in with more funding to help the colleges meet their obligations.

“In [former Conservative Premier] Bill Davis’s day, the Government of Ontario provided 75 per cent of the funds to run the colleges. Today, that number is less than half,” he said. “The shortfall has been paid for by students and their families, and it has been paid for by faculty and staff (although not college presidents).

“Cheap labour has been a cornerstone of college cost-cutting for decades now. We are here today to say that the era of insecure, underpaid, precarious work must end – not only in our colleges, but in our society as a whole.”

 

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Your college faculty bargaining team AT Queen’s Park on September 20 with OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. Left to right: Darryl Bedford, Local 110 (Fanshawe); Nicole Zwiers, Local 354 (Durham); Kevin MacKay, Local 240 (Mohawk); Almeida; Thomas; Shawn Pentecost, Local 415 (Algonquin); JP Hornick, Local 556 (George Brown); Ravi Ramkissoonsingh, Local 242 (Niagara); Mona Chevalier, Local 470 (La Cité collégiale).

 

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Category: Bargaining, CAAT-A, Negotiations

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