Part Time Union Stewards Needed

What is a Union Steward

A Union Steward is the representative of the Union in their workgroup, and the representative of their co-workers in the Union leadership, and at meetings with management. A steward should ensure their work group is informed about bargaining, employment issues, contract rights, changes and decisions that effect them, and policies and procedures related to questions and complaints in the workplace. If they don’t know the answer, they will know who to call. They are the facilitators of informed democracy in the workplace.

Union stewards may also serve as Occupational Health & Safety Campus Committee members, or on other management-union committees. They may specialize in benefits, accommodation and human rights, grievance handling, communications and campaigns, bargaining, mobilizing or any other activity that improves the lives of the workers at Seneca and within our communities.

Training and Support Provided. No Experience Necessary. All Skills Welcome.

How to Become a Union Steward

Steward Nomination Form

We need Part Time union stewards fast! If you are willing to be a steward, or wish to nominate one of your co-workers, complete form and send it to, or bring it to the Union Office at Newnham.

Part-Time Stewards nominated prior to March 4, 2018, will also be eligible to be nominated to attend the first provincial meeting of Part-Time union leaders from all colleges, to be held March 24th and 25th. Each College Local will be sending two representatives, one regular PT and one student PT worker, and from those 48 delegates, a Bargaining Team will be elected.

Stewards are elected by Work Areas, or Units. Small campuses tend to be a single unit, and larger campuses are broken down geographically. A complete list of Work Areas is on the attached Nomination Form. Each Work Area is entitled to a minimum of one steward. We prefer more in larger groups or where there are multiple shifts.

Usually, stewards elections are held in our Local during the Fall, every two years. In Oct/Nov, 2018, we will (re)elect stewards, and then officer elections are done by polling stations, usually in December. However, we have always allowed interim nominations where needed.

General Membership Meeting Notes: Feb 13, 2018

Draft Minutes:  561 GMM Minutes 2018-02-13 DRAFT

OPSEU Local 561 held a General Membership Meeting on Tuesday, February 13th, 5:30 pm, in the Senecentre, at Newnham Campus. Dinner was served. Quorum was exceeded, and there were two part-time workers who attended as guests. The meeting was called to order at 5:40, and Janice Hagan, who chaired the meeting, read the statement of respect. The agenda was approved by consensus.

The following members were elected to represent OPSEU Local 561 at the Divisional Meeting of College Support Staff (Full-Time and Appendix D), on March 24th and 25th:      Mary Kernohan, Virginia DiMonte, Rod Bemister  (Alternate: Derrick Gunning)

Janice Hagan and Tracy MacMaster will be attending the meeting as Divisional Executive delegates. Frank Sturm will go as local President, in Janice’s place. It was announced that the Local will also bring two (2) part-time representatives, including one “regular” part-time worker, and one “student” part-time worker. These reps will be chosen by the part-time members, once stewards have been nominated.

The following members were elected to represent the Local at Convention, 2018:  Tracy MacMaster, Virginia DiMonte, Mary Kernohan (Alternates in order: Rod Bemister, Ahmed Chakera, Lily Tsonis).

Janice Hagan will be attending Convention as Vice Chair of the Union’s Constitution Committee, and Frank Sturm will attend as local president, in Janice’s place.

In addition, Tracy MacMaster, Rod Bemister and Virginia DiMonte were elected to represent our local at the Greater Toronto Area Council (Toronto OPSEU Locals), and Janice Hagan, Tracy MacMaster and Virginia DiMonte were elected to the Toronto and York Region Labour Council.

An Interim Budget for 2018 was passed, and it was explained that when OPSEU’s Executive Board passes a motion to add the newly organized Part-Time workers into our local Union, we may have to made some additions related to meetings and collective bargaining. Two motions to amend the proposed budget were passed: 1) the “Negotiations” line was amended to add $5,000, to allow for mobilizing and meetings around our new Bargaining Team’s mandate (instead of bargaining) to improve job security and fight contracting out at the colleges; and 2) to donate $1,000 to a provincial celebration dinner on March 24th for Organizers and Activists, including retirees, who worked on the Part Time Organizing campaign.

The participants voted to submit a Constitutional Amendment for the consideration of Convention this year, as follows:  That OPSEU’s Constitution be changed to allow electronic forums to be used for general membership meetings and elections. This motion would open the door for locals to allow for greater participation in decision making, by allowing members to “log in” to a membership meeting, debate motions and amendments, and elect officers, as long as the process was secure, allowed members enough time to visit throughout the week, and was approved by OPSEU.

Frank Sturm and Janice Hagan led a presentation and discussion on Bill 148. Janice assured members that they could now take up to two days off, per year, with pay (and 8 others without pay, if needed) to assist with family care for grandparents, parents, spouses and children (including foster and step), as well as for any relative for whom the member is the primary caregiver. The time off would be posted on i3 as a leave with pay, and the explanation would go in the details. The two days cannot be broken up, so that if you have to leave work two hours early to attend a doctor’s appointment with your child, that would count as one of the two days. A full chart of all the Bill 148 improvements for full-time, Appendix D (replacement workers), Appendix G (summer student workers) and part-time employees is being finalized and translated, and would be distributed soon to all members.

Finally, there was a long discussion of part-time workers joining our Local as a composite unit. Janice explained that a composite local has one executive (ie. President, VPs, Secretary, Treasurer), except they will have two chief stewards: one for the FT bargaining unit and one for the PT bargaining unit. Bargaining meetings will be held separately, but all other meetings will include FT and PT members. We also discussed whether or not the college will be providing “equal pay for equal work” to part-timers, on the April 1st, 2018 deadline. Participants wondered whether Premier Kathleen Wynn would “put her money where her mouth is”, or pull a “Tim Hortons” in the colleges. The provincial EERC has started the conversation centrally, with the College Employer Council, and time will tell.
The meeting was adjourned shortly after 7 pm.

College Denying Union Use of College Email and Facilities to Contact Part-Time College Workers

To date, Seneca College has denied OPSEU Local 561 the use of college email to contact our new part-time union members, and the use of college facilities to hold meetings for part-time employees. OPSEU has appealed to the Employer Council to secure permission for locals, who regularly use college email and facilities to support bargaining and demand-setting meetings for full-time employees. In the meantime, we are using our web site, personal emails (where we have them), Facebook, posters and word of mouth, to reach our new members, and encourage them to complete their bargaining survey.

How can you help? Forward the bargaining survey link, or a link to, to all of your part-time co-workers, through their personal email. If you are part-time, please sign a Union Card, so we have your non-Seneca email address, and can add you to our email list. If you do not wish to sign a card at this time but want to get all the news related to bargaining, then send us your non-Seneca email address to

Sign Your Union Card

Sign a Union Card Here

All support staff at Seneca College, except for students working in co-op positions, are members of either the full-time or part-time bargaining units. As bargaining unit members, you are all entitled to fair representation from the Union, wages and benefits negotiated by the Union, and to participate, democratically, in contract and strike votes. In return, all bargaining unit members must pay dues (once you have a First Contract).

However, not all bargaining unit members are Union Members. To be a Union Member, you must voluntarily join the Union, by signing a Union Card. Union membership has further rewards. A Union Card is a promise to do no harm to other members. It entitles you to attend Union Meetings and vote on how your dues are spent, on what activities the Union is involved in, on rules and by-laws, on bargaining demands, and to vote for the people who lead your Union or run for a position yourself. A union card also entitles you to group benefits, like cell phone and auto insurance deals, quality education and training, helpful resources in times of need, and most important: Strike Pay in the event you choose to strike or are locked-out by the employer, during bargaining.

Sign a Union Card Here

To sign a Union Card, print and sign the linked card here, or open it in a PDF viewer and complete and sign it electronically. Mark CAATS as your category of employment. For Part-Time, also indicate whether you are a student or regular PT worker. For Hire Date, please use the first day you began working at Seneca, not the beginning of your current contract. Bring the signed card to our Union Office, Room B4060, or inter-office mail it to OPSEU Local 561, Newnham Campus, or email to You can slide envelopes under the door – only elected union officers have the keys.

Part-Time Support Staff: Complete Your Bargaining Survey Before March 12th

Link to Survey Here

You have a Union. NOW you need some Union Rights. We must negotiate a First Employment Contract with Ontario’s Colleges, and fast. Please complete the Bargaining Survey linked above to let your Union and Bargaining Team know what is most important to you. Part-Time college workers across the province will be doing the same. Once we begin bargaining, we cannot add to the Wish List, so think carefully, and make sure you have your say, before March 12th, 2018.

Please share this post with all your Part-Time co-workers. Want to make sure you are on the mailing list for bargaining information?

Sign Your Union Card

Join OPSEU Region 5 at the 2017 Toronto Labour Day Parade

Labour Day 2017 is less than a week away, and once again, this will be a great opportunity to join hundreds of OPSEU activists, the WE OWN IT CAMPAIGN, the Fight for $15 & Fairness/Make it Fair Campaign, and more than 20,000 of our labour and community allies at the BIGGEST, LOUDEST and PROUDEST annual labour event in Canada!

  • WE OWN IT! Stop the privatization of our public services!
  • Support the Fight for $15 and Fairness!
  • Speak up for the rights of ALL workers and our communities!

When:   Monday, Sept. 4 at 8 a.m.
Where:  University Avenue, east side, south of Dundas St.
March:  West on Queen St. to Dufferin then south into the CNE

  • INVITE your OPSEU sisters, brothers & comrades to join us!
  • BRING your family, kids & friends
  • OPSEU T-SHIRTS and FREE ADMISSION to the CNE for all OPSEU members marching with us
  • PRIZES for the OPSEU locals with the best turn-out
  • SNACKS & DRINKS for marchers along the route. (Bring your own water.)
  • RIDES available FOR THOSE WITH MOBILITY ISSUES. (SPACES ARE LIMITED. E-mail us early to reserve your seat