Ontario’s college support workers vote to strike

Union hopes mandate will pressure colleges to reach agreement by start of new school year

Ontario’s 8,000 unionized college support workers have voted 77 per cent in favour of striking if they can’t agree to a new collective with 24 of the province’s colleges. The results of the vote were released yesterday.

The union decided to take the strike vote after five days of bargaining in early June because they were displeased with the progress of negotiations.

“Our members know weak proposals when they see them, and nothing that college management has brought to the table is worthy of serious negotiations,” said Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas in a press release. “Congratulations to our college support workers for backing up their demands with this strike mandate.”

The key issues on the table for the union are wages and benefits, job security, and the introduction of a two-tier benefit package for new employees.

“Contracts are not settled on the picket line – they’re settled at the bargaining table,” said chair of the bargaining unit Rod Bemister, who also indicated that the union has high hopes they can reach an agreement before the deadline.

The union and colleges are set to resume negotiations on July 19 and could potentially bargain throughout the summer to reach a deal in time for the August 31 deadline, when the current agreement expires.

The union said that 56 per cent of eligible full-time, regular staff members took part in the vote.

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