“We feel their pain,” OPSEU Local 613 President says candidly

11

Out of all the media reports that have been floating around about the OPSEU strike with Ontario community colleges, I found it clear in an interview this afternoon that ‘people’  and their integrity are what’s a stake in this strike, according to Frank Turco, president of OPSEU Local 613.

“It has never been about money,” he stated. “It will take a long time for us to recoup what we have lost financially.”

The key to it is that the strike has been about the students, as well as faculty’s integrity and “the eroding middle class.”

“We have had many students come to us over the years that have struggled to find full-time work,” he said.

“We would like the students to understand how much we care for them and miss them. It is important to us to take a stand,” he said, later adding that “we love them.”

“At this stage we still hurt for our students. We hope we can repair some of the damage that the students must feel,” he continued.

The local union turnout for the ‘no’ vote was 92.64 per cent with an 88.08 per cent rejection of the bargaining deal.

A couple of the key concessions that the colleges were trying to force on the faculty were:

  • entering language into the agreement that would allow for unlimited overtime, and
  • eliminate the ability of the union to file grievances.

“The offer undermined the key things we were looking for,” Turco said. “It was not good for the students at all and not where we wanted to be.”

He said that if council cared about the students they would have made an offer on September 16. “There has been a waste of time by council.”

Turco added that “we appreciate the stress the students are under,” and “we are ready to negotiate now! This is very important for our students and our future.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. Someone or something is ALWAYS used as leverage during collective bargaining otherwise there isnt any incentive to actually negotiate. It just happens that the students who will benefit from a future that includes full time positions instead of part time or contract positions are also the leveraged ones used to gain it.

    We have large percentage of the current workforce as well as a generation of students soon to be entering the work force who’s future likely will be limited to part time or contract work if they arent lucky enough to gain full time employment. This means limited access to health benefits and limited access to pension because companies are not required to extend these things to their part time and contract employees. This strike is about gaining back a percentage of actual full time employees and securing a future for the next generation of educators and support workers … likely a step that other unions will be pushing for down the road in order to secure a future for your children as well as theirs !!

  2. Someone or something is ALWAYS used as leverage during collective bargaining otherwise there isnt any incentive to actually negotiate. It just happens that the students who will benefit from a future that includes full time positions instead of part time or contract positions are also the leveraged ones used to gain it.

    We have large percentage of the current workforce as well as a generation of students soon to be entering the work force who’s future likely will be limited to part time or contract work if they arent lucky enough to gain full time employment. This means limited access to health benefits and limited access to pension because companies are not required to extend these things to their part time and contract employees. This strike is about gaining back a percentage of actual full time employees and securing a future for the next generation of educators and support workers … likely a step that other unions will be pushing for down the road in order to secure a future for your children as well as theirs !!

    • NO, Lisa Butler, they are not. They did make the request that 2 weeks’ worth of salary be reimbursed to the faculty (from the saved salary fund, NOT from the student hardship fund) because the CEC are unequivocally at fault for a further 2 week delay to the strike by calling for a forced offer vote. The CEC’s consistent lack of true bargaining participation is why the strike happened in the first place. The CEC kept insisting that the union accept their offer and only their offer, full as it was with concessions and ambiguous language (many usages of the term ‘may’ rather than ‘shall’, which means they ‘may’ or ‘may NOT’ choose to do a particular thing). Since faculty are not all at the same salary step, the reimbursement would vary from person to person. Even those at the top of the salary grid would not be getting $5000 for those 2 weeks.

  3. It takes some nerve to state that the union is really thinking about the students. Really? We the public are not quite that stupid. If the union was really thinking about the students they would have continued with classes and negotiated in the ogg hours. No matter how the union wants to spin it..THE STUDENTS WERE THE ULTIMATE BARGAINING CHIP.

    • bri, if you read the facts about this situation, you would know that faculty only took this step (going on strike) because literally nothing else would get the CEC to bargain with the faculty union. The students are not the only ones sacrificing; faculty sacrificed too, with lost wages (which they happily lobbied to have used, in part, to establish a student hardship fund, something that faculty would certainly not have done if they didn’t care about students). If you so believe that the faculty do not care about the students, try talking to the students (and not just one) and the faculty.

  4. Frank Turco reach in your full pockets and refund the money for my two full time children, and while you and your members keep getting paid in future our children’s careers are in question. Pain? You should be feeling embarrassed and ashamed.

    • Bill Butler, our faculty pockets are not the source for your envisioned refund for your children’s education; the wages lost by faculty during the strike have already been earmarked for a student hardship fund. That move was started by a student petition, but is supported by faculty. Would YOU not feel some pain to lose 10% of your gross income?

  5. That`s one mighty big big pile of B.S. the students were used as bargaining chips and public relation tools. Lets face it the function of a union is to get as much for their membership as possible from their employer regardless of collateral damage, in this case students. Unions by nature are very selfish and self centered, so save your phony song and dance routine about “we feel their pain” the union sacrificed the welfare of the students in their efforts to obtain as much as they can for their membership, that`s just the nature of the beast.jmo

    • Jim Sweezey, unions, historically, have worked to change working conditions for ALL OF US. The 5-day work week, maternity leave, paternity leave, sick benefits, health benefits, pensions, living wage rates, 8 hour days instead of 16, and more, have all been negotiated, often through very tough environments, by labour unions. So, are YOU willing to work 16 hours per day, 6 days per week, routinely? Are YOU willing to halve your hourly wage or salary because that’s what it likely would be today if no unions had fought for fairer treatment? Would YOU object to have zero paid sick days while you’re recuperating from major surgery? Would YOU rather pay the entire cost of your prescriptions? All of these benefits you can be grateful for due to the non-self-centred, non-selfish actions of labour unions negotiating not just for their members, but for changes to the workplace that will set the bar higher for ALL workers. The gains that were sought by the faculty union had to do with fair treatment and pay for contract faculty, whose jobs are short-term AND precarious (they must reapply every 4 months…….how’d YOU like to do that?), plus giving proper academic freedom to faculty, who are the experts in education, keeping contract language that made it possible for some of those non-full-time faculty to gain access to full-time faculty positions, and give contract faculty equal pay for equal work (aka Bill 148). Considering the fact that full time faculty were bargaining for benefits that would not necessarily directly benefit THEM, I would say that the union is far from being selfish or self-centred. If we do not fight for the social justice of standing against the increasing encroachment of precarious, part-time, contract jobs, the future of the world will be very bleak indeed. Far fewer people will earn enough, reliably, to qualify for mortgages, car loans, or perhaps even have enough security of income to consider having families. Consider those points and see if you still think of faculty as selfish and self-centred.

Comments are closed.