Paddy Musson

Photos from the 2024 Tolpuddle Martyrs Award Presentation

May 2, 2024

Please enjoy these photos from the May 1, 2024 event where we presented the Tolpuddle Martyrs Award to Paddy Musson, President of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 110 from 1984 to 2010.

An excerpt from the award presentation, spoken by former Local 110 President Darryl Bedford:

I am the Communications Officer for the LDLC, but the reason I am here is that I was the former President of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 110 from 2010 to 2022. Our local represents Professors, Librarians, and Counsellors at Fanshawe College.

We are here to honour and present this award to my predecessor Paddy Musson, 110 Local President from 1984 to 2010.

It is appropriate that we present this award on this day. Our local received its charter on this day May 1, 1977 – 47 years ago today.

Paddy was hired at Fanshawe College in 1976 to teach Sociology. While Paddy was still on probation at the College, 130 women at Fleck Manufacturing went on strike and many mornings she would make the drive to join them on the line. The women were faced down by hordes of OPP carrying billy clubs. As Paddy recounted in her story for our Labour Council album, an OPP officer was quoted in the media “I guess we took some of the wind out of them today. A lot of them got a belly full of billies.” Even the conservative London Free Press remarked that the strikers would not have been treated that way if they were men.

It was the events of that strike that left an indelible mark on Paddy’s career, shaping her views of labour, and the role of women in the labour movement. They say, “a woman’s place is in her union,” and that is so true.

Paddy then took her activism into the political arena, running for the federal NDP in the old riding of London West for the 1979 election, and the “do over” election of 1980.

In March 1984 she was elected President of Local 110 in an environment few labour leaders would want to face. Besides the usual employer attitude of valuing dollars over people, for decades our employer had zero interest in having positive labour relations.

And, to top it all off, as Paddy was taking over as a new Local President, that September 1984 they headed into the first province-wide Ontario college faculty strike.

Some members even hired hot-shot lawyer Julius Melnitzer to file DFR complaints with the OLRB against Paddy and the other officers of 110. The complaints were dismissed but the Labour Board closed their decision with this statement: “In particular, because so many of the complainants’ allegations were directed at Ms. Musson, we wish to say that the evidence before us indicates that she conducted herself in a thoughtful, fair-minded and professional manner in the face of extremely trying circumstances.” You know you’re doing something right when you’re endorsed by the OLRB!

Paddy was elected Chair of the 1989 Bargaining Team, we negotiate provincially in the college system, all 24.The Colleges wanted to remove faculty’s workload protections, achieved just a couple of years earlier, and there were disputes over wages. That resulted in the second Ontario College Faculty Strike. A difficult time. I found a Free Press photo of college students picketing Paddy’s home during that 1989 strike. Again, it was a difficult time.

In the span of about 4 years from that strike and the interest arbitration that followed: Sabbatical language (PD leave), other leaves, our job titles were changed: Teaching Masters” to Professors, Counsellors, and Librarians. Librarians achieved pay equity, and vacation parity for Librarians and Counsellors. The Employment Stability fund was established. Salary calculations had to be provided to the union. Why? When salary calculations are unfair, inequitable, and arbitrary; that affects all of us. Equity matters, to all of us. Equity is not just a social issue it is an economic one.

Partial load (precarious) achieved a pay grid to satisfy pay equity requirements, Paddy fought for majority female occupations who were Partial Load, Librarians, Counsellors. She won the OPSEU/SEFPO Bread and Roses award for her work, and she was the first chair of the Social Mapping Project

Our membership in CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers) was not a given. Our union leadership at the time were concerned about this potential affiliation and work across unions.  However, Paddy pushed and we got it. We needed that affiliation to connect with postsecondary educators across the country. You’d better believe that university and college workers have common cause. We are fighting for fairness for contract faculty. We are fighting for quality education.

Paddy: the wins we achieved then, the things we achieved later, the Equity Seats on the Board of OPSEU/SEFPO, wouldn’t have been possible without your leadership on Social Mapping Project.

Paddy put others ahead of herself. She fought for others with same fervor that she’d take on her own battle.

Paddy, in the chaos of leading a union local, I did not have a chance to thank you then. To show my appreciation for showing the way, for mentoring me, to show that there were things larger than me to fight for. So I’m doing it now. All of us here, join me in saying this: Paddy, thank you.

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