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Support staff strike

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | August 25th, 2008

The Ontario Public Service Employee Union (OPSEU) and the College Compensation and Appointments Council (The Council) pending bargaining could cause some long line-ups in the college come September.

OPSEU has addressed to the Council that support staff workers are interested in obtaining a new collective agreement.

Support staff employees have a contract, which expires on August 31.

The main issues have to do with salary and job security.

Management is offering the Union a three per cent increase per year for the next two years. This new offer would in fact increase a support workers' annual income to around $52,400 and those who portray special skills might be eligible to receive an annual income in excess of $81,000.

Initially the Union proposed a 4.5 per cent increase in the first year and a three per cent in the second.

This offer was rejected by management, instead they are proposing a four per cent increase each year for the next two years.

This proposal is one that is going to affect students the most.

“Both sides need to be thinking of the students while they negotiate over the next few weeks. Students shouldn't have to cross a picket line to get to class, especially at the start of a new year,” said Director of Advocacy Tyler Charlebois.

The deal they are referring to is the same one that was given for the 2006 contract when negotiations were set at four per cent per year for two years.

Negotiations were set to start in early 2008, but with the start of a new school year fast approaching, both bargaining sides have not come to a mutual agreement.

The students have the most at stake.

“Nobody wants to see the student experience interrupted by a job action, but if it becomes necessary, than all of our members will stand together in solidarity,” explained Board of Governors member, Harold Sobel.

Why should students feel more anxiety than is necessary? They are embarking on a new journey, and that does not include having to cross picket lines before entering the building to attend their scheduled classes?

“Well seeing how all colleges have stated they will remain open and classes will run as scheduled, the only affect will come in terms of longer lines, interrupted services, having to cross a picket line and a certain level of frustration, “added Charlebois.

At this point in time everyone including the students who are starting classes in September are anxiously waiting to hear if there is in fact going to be a strike.

According to Fanshawe College Manager of Marketing and Communications there is currently a media black out concerning negotiations and no new information is available.

“There are still several days of negotiations planned in August and both sides have previously (prior to the blackout) said that they are very hopeful for a settlement,” said Marcoccia.
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