Ontario college support staff ratify agreement

After 18-day strike, 87 per cent of 8,000 staff support deal

Support staff at 24 community colleges in Ontario have ratified a tentative agreement their union reached with college management following an 18-day strike in September 2011.

The 8,000 workers, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, voted 87 per cent in favour of the deal, which was reached on Sept. 18.

“By the results of this vote our members have wholeheartedly said they approve the deal their negotiating team reached at the contract table,” said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas in a release. “The members said all along they wanted a good deal and today they delivered their stamp of approval.”

The college cleaners, food service staff and registration officers will receive the following wage increases over the term of the contract:

· 1.5 per cent in the first year

· 1.75 per cent in the second year

· 2.0 per cent in the third year

Initially, the union had been asking for a salary increase of three per cent in each year of the contract. The College Employer Council (CEC) had been offering a 4.8 per cent salary increase over the life of the contract.

The support staff walked off the job at the beginning of September 2011 after the parties were unable to reach an agreement. Schools remained open with the use of management and non-unionized part-time staff.

“The ratification is great news, because it shows that employees clearly support the agreement,” said chair of the College Employer Council bargaining team Gerry Barker in a statement.

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