Support staff at Ontario’s 24 public colleges unionized under the Ontario Public Service Employees Union on Wednesday after ballot boxes were unsealed from a vote in 2016.
OPSEU, whose college faculty members were just embroiled in a five-week-long strike in the fall of 2016, have been waiting on the Ontario Labour Relations Board to determine whether the union had the votes of an 35 per cent of eligible staff.
After the OLRB approved the unsealing late last year, the counted ballots revealed that 84 per cent voted in favor of joining the union, according to a statement released by OPSEU.
The union’s president, Warren Thomas, called the addition of the some 20,000 support staff a “magnificent victory” for the new members and those who worked hard to add them.
There is no date set for negotiations to sign a contract between the new union members and the colleges, but OPSEU’s CAAT Academic will be forced to return to the bargaining table with the College Employer Council.
OPSEU and the council were unable to come to an agreement over a new contract for full and part-time college faculty before the 12:01 a.m. deadline on Oct. 16, launching the some 12,000 faculty, librarians and councilors at public colleges into a strike.
The strike ended in back-to-work legislation passed by the Ontario government that led to faculty returning to work and the two sides entering private forced arbitration.
While Thomas agreed that while OPSEU and the council ended with negative circumstances, he said that “when bargaining is over, it’s supposed to be over.”
The College Employer Council has not given a comment at this time, with no response to a direct request from the Post.
More details to follow. Image of the OPSEU flag from The Dialog.