by Eva McDonald

A recent chain of events at George Brown College (GBC) teaches us to be unafraid to take a public stand on issues and speak truth to power.

Bill 148, passed by the previous Liberal provincial government, gave all workers two paid sick days each year.  The passage of Bill 47 under the current Conservative government eliminates these sick days; however, it is important to note that employers are not required to eliminate paid sick days.  Instead, Bill 47 simply sets out a new minimum for all employers to allow eight unpaid personal days.

In January, GBC eliminated the two paid sick days for contract faculty “in compliance” with Bill 47.  Local 556, representing faculty at GBC, highlighted this inequity to the college.  After extensive attempts to obtain answers from college management, a faculty steward, Jeff Brown, spoke to Sara Mojtehedzadeh, a reporter at the Toronto Star. On March 18, the newspaper published an article contrasting GBC’s new policy with that of Humber College, which maintained the two sick days for contract faculty not covered by the Collective Agreement.

OPSEU Divisional Executive went into action to encourage GBC to reverse their decision. OPSEU reminded GBC that in October 2017, contract faculty voted on joining OPSEU, but the counting of the votes has been delayed and delayed by the College Employer Council.  Until the votes are counted, the working conditions of contract faculty are “frozen”, meaning that no changes can be made without the consent of the union. Thus, the removal of two sick days for GBC contract faculty is illegal.

Hearing this news, on March 29, the Toronto Star published a follow up article: “George Brown College took away paid sick days from part-time staff. Now it might be forced to give them back.

What impact does this series of events have for Centennial contract faculty?  Working conditions are frozen, so until further notice, contract faculty wages will not decrease and all contract faculty not covered by the Collective Agreement are entitled to two paid sick days.  As usual, if you have questions, contact us.