Tag Archives: OPSEU

Ontario College Teachers fight for quality education, decent jobs, equity and a better future

Victory to the Strikers!

More than 12,000 community college faculty, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, have been making headlines since the start of their province-wide strike October 16.

The union is fighting to improve education quality for students and to stop the shameful trend towards more precarious jobs on campus.  An inspiring feature of the strike is the unity of full-time faculty with their part-time teaching co-workers.

OPSEU is calling for:

  • More full-time faculty to teach students – In the last decade, the number of students has gone up much faster than the number of full-time faculty.
  • Democracy at school.  For faculty and student input into academic decision-making – for the creation of an “academic senate” that includes both student and faculty representatives.
  • Ensure that there are enough counselors for students – put an end to outsourcing of mental health services so that colleges can adequately meet the mental health needs of students.
  • Job security and better working conditions for contract faculty – contract faculty need to reapply to teach every semester, never knowing whether they will have a job next semester.
  • “Equal pay for equal work” for contract faculty – Contract faculty are not paid to prepare courses, correct assignments, or offer out-of-class support to students. Most of them have to work several part-time jobs to make ends meet.

Congratulations to the striking college teachers for showing the way forward to the entire workers’ movement.  For standing up to management on issues of quality education and student services, good jobs, equity, and against the bosses’ austerity agenda, the teachers deserve full support.

Mass rallies, demonstrations, solidarity picketing and sympathy strikes are the order of the day.

Help to turn the tide against the capitalist state and its servile institutions.  Get involved.  Make a difference.  Build solidarity.  Take action.  Victory to the Strikers!


(The text above is based on a leaflet Socialist Action has been distributing widely for weeks.)

Photo: THOMAS CAMPEAN / THE CANADIAN PRES

Vote NO to OPS Concessionary Deal

By: Julius Arscott

President, OPSEU Local 532

Members of the Ontario Public Service (represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union) are being asked to ratify a three year (2015 – 2017) concessionary tentative agreement. While many of the major concessions sought by management, such as a 12 step wage grid and a 5% pay reduction at the bottom of the grid, were fought off, the deal the members are now asked to ratify is filled with concessions that would continue the downward spiral of wages. It reflects the ‘Net Zero’ stance of the Premier Kathleen Wynne Liberal Party regime. Continue reading Vote NO to OPS Concessionary Deal

OPS workers prepare to strike

by Julius Arscott

Employees of the Ontario Public Service are getting ready to hit the bricks. Negotiations for a collective agreement for the 35,000 workers, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, are stalled. The old agreement expired on December 31, 2014. Management is pitching take-away demands the likes of which have not been seen since the days of Conservative Premier Mike Harris. Continue reading OPS workers prepare to strike

OPS benefits cut, but NDP’s Horwath silent, and OFL’s Ryan pissed

Following the lead of the federal Conservative regime, the Ontario Liberal government announced that, starting in 2017, it will force its public service workers to pay more and work twice as long to qualify for retirement benefits such as life insurance and health coverage.

The measures, which require retirees to pay half their benefit premiums, now fully funded by Queen’s Park, and necessitate 20 years’ service instead of the present 10, are not subject to negotiation, which they will be at the federal level. Liberal Government Services Minister John Milloy simply imposed the changes, aimed at saving $1.2 Billion over five years. This will be directly at the expense of provincial workers, and indirectly harms all workers by the example it sets.
Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas denounced the “out of the blue” move. “We are looking at our options.”
According to President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Sid Ryan, when Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was asked by reporters about this, she said “No comment.”
horwathThat was coupled with Horwath’s avoidance of the minimum wage issue for months. Then she proposed a measly increase, over two years – just $1 more than the insulting Liberal increase of 75 cents to take effect this Spring. While Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne sets the poverty wage at $11/hour, Horwath would make it $12/hour (in 2016). Labour and many anti-poverty groups demand a $14/hour minimum now, indexed to the rate of influation. Socialists, and some unions like CUPE-Ontario call for $17/hour now, fully indexed. Apparently, that doesn’t fit with Horwath’s appeal to ‘middle class’ voters, and to “making life more affordable.”
Sid Ryan delivered a scathing report to the Ontario NDP provincial council on the morning of March 2. He said he was “perplexed” by the process and by the weak position taken on the minimum wage.
Ryan minced no words in stating how disturbed he was to hear that NDP MPPs voted in the Ontario Legislature for a Conservative motion that opposes any increase in corporate taxation. He additionally denounced Horwath’s call for a reduction in taxes on small business, from the present 5% to 3.5%, to support a tiny increase in the minimum wage. “How will an NDP government pay for improvements in transportation, health, education and other vital services if it doesn’t plan to tax those who can afford to pay more?”
On the topic of pensions, Ryan bluntly warned that if Queen’s Park initiates an Ontario pension plan because Ottawa refuses to increase the CPP, it had better be a universal plan, with no opt-out features, or Labour will vigorously oppose it. He explained, in advance, his reasons for concern.
“There is no consultation with unions by the party leadership. Policy decisions are just announced. There may be a wise and grand strategy behind it all, but it’s certainly not evident to me,” Ryan complained.ryan_syd
Finally, the OFL President insisted on the importance of the campaign to defend postal services, to reverse the Tory-backed Canada Post plan to eliminate door-to-door mail delivery. He pointed to this writer as the organizer of a mass picket, set for March 15 at the Toronto office of Conservative Cabinet Minister Joe Oliver, and urged everyone to participate in the protest.
To those who claim that, no matter what the NDP does, labour has no where else to go, the OFL head warned: “Look at what happened in British Columbia. Workers there were alienated by the NDP, and when the election came, many just stayed at home.”
Sid Ryan concluded by confiding to the council that the harsh things he’d said were necessary to say, all true, and told from the heart – and that being frank about these matters may be the only way to get a real dialog going.
And he’s correct. But much more must be said, and done, to force the ONDP leadership off its present course, increasingly distant from the union movement, and increasingly cozy with the business class.
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