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College support workers endorse strike mandate

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College support workers across Ontario today voted strongly in favour of a strike mandate if contract negotiations with management break down or fail to reach a suitable agreement.

By a margin of 77 per cent members voted in favour of possible strike action. Fifty-six per cent of eligible full-time, regular staff members cast a ballot. Results from individual colleges are not available.

“The message our members have delivered is a clear message,” said Rod Bemister, chair of the bargaining team for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union that represents more than 8,000 college support workers at 24 colleges in the province.

“They’ve said to the bargaining team we want you to forge ahead and negotiate a new collective agreement that meets our demands without giving in to management concessions.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today’s strike mandate sends a powerful message to management that college workers aren’t prepared to settle for a second-rate new collective agreement.

“Our members know weak proposals when they see them, and nothing that college management has brought to the table is worthy of serious negotiations. Congratulations to our college support workers for backing up their demands with this strike mandate,” said Thomas.

The workers will be in a legal position to walk off the job if the two sides fail to reach an agreement by an Aug. 31 deadline.

“Contracts are not settled on the picket line – they’re settled at the bargaining table,” said Bemister. “Today’s result does not mean there will be a strike but it’s a wake-up call to management to get serious about bargaining.”

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.

For more information:

Rod Bemister
Chair, CAAT-S Bargaining Team
416-779-0669

Greg Hamara
OPSEU Communications
416-443-8888 ext 8777 office
647-238-9933