Update on the Continuing Sessional Standing Program (CSSP)

CSSP Guarantee

At the August 18 Labour Management Committee (LMC), we received clarification from Rob Lawson in Faculty Relations with respect to the Continuing Sessional Standing Program (CSSP) Guarantee, or payout for those members who received less work in the 2015-16 contract year than their previous five-year average. As per the Unit 2 Collective Agreement, Art. 12.01 (“Guarantee” section), the eligibility criteria for the 2016 payout are as follows:

  1. CSSP-eligible members must have participated in the CSSP by submitting a CSSP blanket application by the Nov. 1, 2015 deadline.
  2. Members must have had a minimum average of 2.0 Type 1 (or equivalent) positions in the previous five contract years.
  3. Members must have received 2/3rds or less work in 2015-16 than their previous five-year average
  4. Members must “apply” for the payout (the “upon application” phrase in the “Guarantee” section) (see below)

Based on the above, Faculty Relations has calculated that 31 CSSP members out of the 334 current members in the CSSP pool are eligible to receive the Guarantee. There are 18 Unit 2 members who qualify for the CSSP under criteria 2) and 3) above, but who did not submit a CSSP blanket application.

Rob Lawson will contacting these 31 Guarantee-eligible members individually by email over the next two weeks. In order to meet the application criterion (4), members need only respond to this email.

We are expecting that this contact and response process will be completed by Sept. 10th at the latest, which is the last date to submit payroll requests. Thus, payout-eligible members should receive their payout in York’s Sept. 25th, 2016 payroll.

We will also be receiving from Faculty Relations the full list of CSSP members, including those who are eligible for the payout, for our review.

CSSP Postings Summary for Winter 2016

A summary of CSSP postings, including a breakdown of the number and percentages of CSSP postings out of total postings (from January-May 2016) per department, is available here.

Overall, there were just under 600 CSSP postings in Winter 2016, out of a total of just over 2400 postings. CSSP postings work out to 24% of total postings in the time frame. Considering that some departments posted few or no CSSP courses, this result requires an ongoing discussion.

2016 Unit 2 Conversions

Eight members of CUPE 3903 Unit 2 have been awarded conversions to tenured-track jobs under the York University Faculty Association (YUFA). Congratulations!

Professorial Stream

Robert Heynen, Communication Studies, LAPS
Cynthia Wright, Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, LAPS

Alternate Stream

John Simoulidis, Social Science, LAPS
Jacqueline Ng, DLLL, LAPS
Maggie Quirt, Equity Studies, LAPS
Peter Constantinou, SPPA, LAPS
Lykke de la Cour, Social Science, LAPS
Michael Boni, Kinesiology, Health

To find out more about conversions, see Article 23 of the Unit 2 collective agreement.

Register Now for the 4th Annual Toxic Tour

On August 21st organizers and community members from Aamjiwnaang First Nation are hosting the 4th Annual TOXIC TOUR. Aamjiwnaang is a First Nation reserve located next to Sarnia, ON. It has been surrounded by a giant ring of more than 60 toxic chemical producing plants and refining factories near Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, making life on the reserve a constant health risk. Inspiring youth from the community have stepped up and are organizing to spread awareness and build resistance to the toxic and sometimes fatal living conditions on their reserve.

You can see updates about the event here. Registration can accessed here: https://toxictour.wufoo.com/forms/z80nnve0w6v5ln/.

During the Toxic Tour, Aamjiwnaang community members provides first hand knowledge of the history of the chemical valley, and allows you to bear witness to the environmental racism and colonial legacies that Aamjiwnaang First Nation is fighting against.

This is a free event and everyone is welcome. You can go the night before and camp, or head up for a day-trip. Buses are being organized to transport people from Toronto and meals are included for the day. Donations for contributing to these amenities are highly encouraged. CUPE 3903’s First Nation Solidarity Working Group hopes to see a large 3903 presence at this important opportunity to learn and demonstrate anti-colonial solidarity. You can get in touch with FNSWG at cupe3903fnswg@gmail.com.

To stay connected and read updates about Aamjiwnaang’s fight against Chemical Valley please visit their website here and their Facebook page here.

Committee Vacancies

Several committees currently have vacancies, and the Childcare Committee needs to be elected in full. More information on each of the committees can be found below. The vacancies will be filled at the August 31 General Membership Meeting.

You do not need to be present at the GMM to nominate yourself for these positions. However, we do need quorum in order to elect members to committees. Nominations can be sent to cupe3903comms@gmail.com. You may include a statement of no more than 100 words.

The Accessibility Committee (1 vacancy) was organized in the spring of 2005 to improve the union’s work around accessibility issues on campus and to ensure that union spaces and meetings are accessible. Honorarium: $250 per year.

The Bilingualism Committee (2 vacancies) is responsible for assessing and responding to the needs of the local in terms of translation and French language content and promoting outreach and inclusion for our francophone members. This committee coordinates translation of important documents and resources as well as any other translation projects that may arise. Honorarium: $500 per year.

The Childcare Committee (4 vacancies) facilitates the disbursement of Child Care Fund among CUPE 3903 members. Part of the work of this committee will be mobilizing members to apply for this fund, reaching out to all members with childcare needs, and inputting the data collected. Honorarium: $250 per year.

The Communications Committee (3 vacancies) is responsible for coordinating CUPE 3903 communications, including maintaining and updating the CUPE 3903 website, maintaining a social media presence, and taking on communications projects and campaigns. Honorarium: $750 per year.

The Distribution Committee (1 vacancy) is responsible for distributing materials to departmental mailboxes and putting up posters at a $50 per diem, with the normal workload being 1 day per month.

The International Graduate Students’ Committee (1 vacancy) advocates for international graduate student members of CUPE 3903. Honorarium: $250 per year.

The Professional Development Fund Committee (2 vacancies: 1 PDF Coordinator, 1 PDF Committee Member) adjudicates the distribution of PDF funds, the Teaching Development Fund, and the Tuition Costs Fund. The PDF Coordinator administers the PDF Fund throughout the contract year in accordance with established guidelines, and is the primary contact person for members. One of the Coordinator’s tasks is to chair four meetings (September, January, March, and June). The PDF Coordinator is also a member of the Center for the Support of Teaching Executive Board, and is CUPE 3903’s primary and ongoing connection to the CST.
Honorarium: (for the PDF Coordinator) $1,500, paid in three equal installments during the year.
Honorarium: (for the PDF Representative): $200, paid out as $50 per meeting.

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council (1 vacancy) is comprised of all affiliated locals across the labour movement in the Toronto and York region. It meets once per month. CUPE 3903 is entitled to four delegates elected for a one-year term. Honorarium: $250.

The Unit 2 Listserv Moderators (1 vacancy) read all posts to the listserv at least once a day and enforce the Listserv Guidelines (Appendix F of the CUPE 3903 Bylaws). Honorarium: $500 per member per year.

Grievance Officer Vacancy Temporarily Filled

Due to a summertime resignation on the executive committee, Sarah Hornstein was pro temmed as temporary Grievance Officer at the July 20 executive committee meeting. The nomination period opened on July 5 and closed on July 19. There were four candidates: Sarah Hornstein, Brendan Bruce, Maria Wallis, and Liz Brule.

Nominations to permanently fill the position for the 2016-17 term will open at the August GMM, which is currently scheduled for August 31, pending the confirmation of a room. The exact timing of the by-election will be set in consultation with the Elections Officers, but are required to follow the minimum timeline set out in Article 14 of the bylaws.

Unit 2 Update: LSTAs and the CSSP

Long Service Teaching Appointments (LSTAs)

We finally have the names of the people given LSTAs this round, and a rather dodgy explanation about why others were not successful. This information is coming late, as the employer has been delaying the release of information on any topic lately; this was no exception.

The successful candidates for LSTAs this round are:

E. Michael, French Studies, LA&PS
V. Donsky, French Studies, Glendon
V. Tomaszewski, Sociology, Glendon

Congratulations!

You may notice something strange about this list. There are supposed to be seven LSTA appointments, but there are only three. When we queried the employer about the brevity of this list we received a list of the unsuccessful applicants and their department. In each case “insufficient curriculum support” was used as a justification to exclude members from the program. This phrase was used often enough that we queried it and are awaiting actual numbers from departments indicating that there aren’t enough courses on the books to accommodate the further four LSTAs.

Excluding two of our members from a program that promotes job security and rewards long term service at York is unacceptable. We will be meeting with the employer on Thursday to register our anger in person and are discussing other measures that can be taken by the Executive. Members, especially Unit 2 members, should be thinking of other means by which they can indicate displeasure to the employer, and exercising them.

Article 24 of the Unit 2 collective agreement sets out the terms of the long service teaching appointment.

Continuing Sessional Standing Program (CSSP)

The CSSP “exercise” (as the employer calls it) has also been less than successful for members who qualified for it. In a year when Unit 2 work has been cut drastically, the CSSP garnered work for a few, but nowhere near as many as should have received early appointments for multiple courses. Instead, the employer is choosing to pay people out for not teaching, which is a provision under the program that does not enhance the employment of our members in meaningful ways.

If you did not receive a CSSP NRA and think you qualify for a payout because you should have, stay tuned. The employer has indicated that you have to “apply” for this payout in order to receive it along with your September paycheque, but 3903’s understanding of the program is that members should be notified (via email and letter) of their eligibility and how to access the funds. We are still negotiating with the employer on this one and will let you know what happens.

Article 12.01 of the Unit 2 collective agreement sets out the terms of the CSSP.

Clarification on Year 6 and Funding Extensions

It has been brought to our attention that the funding emails that were sent on Monday July 11 were not sent to PhD students in their sixth year. Similarly, these emails do not clarify what happens to funding extensions for students with disabilities and executive service.

Year 6 Funding

The Unit 1 collective agreement, article 12.03.1 (i), states:

[The Priority Pool] entitles a qualified full-time Ph.D. student to a maximum of one full teaching assistantship (subject to availability) in each of up to six years while a full-time Ph.D. student, provided that the student is successful in obtaining an initial teaching assistantship. Any teaching assistantship(s) held while a Masters student will not reduce the priority while a Ph.D. student.

What this language means is that PhD students in year 6, as long as they have held a teaching assistantship, would get funding for the Fall/Winter in the form of a TA assignment, but not the summer assistance. This is still true, as the employer does not have the ability to unilaterally change the collective agreement. We have received reports that the employer acknowledges this, but would not send out communications to year 6 students because they did not know “how to frame it”.

Funding Extensions

There are two kinds of funding extensions, both for up to 12 months: one for students with disabilities and the other for members who have served on the executive committee or bargaining team. These extensions are also guaranteed under the collective agreements, and must be respected.

For students with disabilities who find themselves outside the collective agreements because of the employer’s union-busting tactics, we have heard from the York University Graduate Student Association (YUGSA) that FGS is considering giving extensions to non-unionized students with disabilities. We maintain a healthy skepticism of any promises made by the employer that are not enshrined in our collective agreements or a memorandum of settlement. Nonetheless, their implicit acknowledgement that this is a problem is a signal for us to push them to maintain extensions for all students with disabilities, regardless of whether they are protected by the union.

Unit 4 Bargaining Update #11

On Friday, July 8, 2016 we resumed bargaining. The employer submitted articles regarding Roles and Responsibilities for Part-time Librarians and Archivists. The CUPE 3903 team spent some time amending these articles to better reflect our roles and concerns regarding professional and collegial work. An agreement in principle was made.

The Employer also submitted articles regarding employee pension plan enrollment with a promise to return to those articles dealing with other benefits at our next meeting. We have moved substantially closer to agreement in these areas.

Regarding the administration of benefits, it was observed by the employer that for technical reasons the part-time unit may be moved to a monthly pay sequence, i.e. a change from our current bi-weekly pay sequence. Unit 4 representatives pointed out that this may be a significant adjustment for the membership. However, given the potential for a significant increase in benefits, and the fact that this will move our membership more in line with the expectations of reliable employment (change in status from ‘casual’ to ‘part-time’ in the purview of Human Resources and the University), Unit 4 representatives agreed to give the matter serious consideration. It may, in fact, not be technically possible to administer benefits without moving our Unit to a monthly compensation schedule. The employer, however, agreed to look into the technical aspects in greater detail. Both sides agreed to discuss the matter again after some reflection and research. Members wishing to share their concerns on this issue further should please contact David, Sharona, or Guylaine. Please keep in mind, there are considerable gains to be made in making this scheduling change and that both the Employer and the Bargaining Team appreciate that this is, as noted above, a significant adjustment.

When we close the discussion on Roles & Responsibilities with agreement, we will move on to Posting and Compensation, and other relevant sub-articles. In short, we may establish a full agreement over the next few weeks.

In closing, we are now deep in the summer vacation season. However, we also have now reached a crucial moment in bargaining. In the past member attendance and contribution was important in making our case on each issue. It is now extremely important. Any and all members are urged to attend our upcoming bargaining talks. For those not presently on campus but who may be coming back in September — you are still a member of CUPE 3903 and are welcome to attend! Should you return to York as a part-timer you may benefit substantially from this Collective Agreement.

The next bargaining meeting is Thursday, July 21, 10am-4pm, in York Lanes 280 A. Previous updates and more information are available on the Unit 4 Bargaining page.

Your Input Needed: Survey on Exam Space

Worker members of the CUPE 3903 Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) have had ongoing discussions with York regarding the assignment of space during the examination period. While some progress has been made over the years, many members still feel the rooms they’ve been assigned for exams are unsafe. We are again pushing for changes from the employer and want to represent your views and needs as accurately as possible.

Please follow the link and complete the questions (as many or as few as you like) and encourage your fellow CUPE 3903 members to do so as well. The survey can be found at: Exam Space Survey.

Feedback from all units is welcome

No identifiable information will be shared with the employer and this form can be filled out anonymously. If you do wish to report a particular incident regarding exams or any other safety issue in a way that identifies you so that we can follow up personally please email JHSCCUPE3903@gmail.com or contact the CUPE3903 office and they will forward the message.

Confusion Reigns as York Unveils ‘Simpler’ Funding Model

A sign reads "labour rights = human rights"

A sign held at a sit-in at Kaneff Tower underlines the importance of labour rights.

We have been impatiently waiting for York to reveal its new funding model, which it first described to the union and other interested groups in January 2016. Forty-one days after the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) told the York University Graduate Student Association (YUGSA) that they would provide this information, an email from FGS has been sent to what appears to be all current (up to year 5 of the PhD) and incoming students.

CUPE 3903 has been very clear in its opposition to this new funding model, which will cut at least 670 unionized jobs, robbing the people who would usually have held these positions of our exceptional health care, protections from discrimination and harassment, extensions for people with disabilities, and access to important funds, including childcare and extended health benefits.

In addition to this blatant union-busting, now that we have seen the details of the new funding model, there can be no doubt that it is the very opposite of “encouraging academic excellence, supporting student success, and improving transparency and clarity in graduate funding”, to quote the email from FGS. There are four different basic scenarios (Masters international, Masters domestic, PhD international, PhD domestic), as well as multiple scenarios within each one.

International Masters Students

International Masters students are guaranteed $19,256 a year. To this amount is added $600 for UHIP, and $1000 as a Health Care Graduate Bursary. This leaves the student with $1,600 after tuition. In most cases, the $19,256 will consist of a fellowship, which is paid out three times a year in the Fall, Winter, and Summer. If a student gets an external scholarship, it will count towards the fellowship amount. Any smaller scholarships or bursaries, including the York Graduate Scholarship, will be in addition to the fellowship.

If you are able to secure work as a Graduate Assistant (GA), the $7,534 offset will be counted towards the fellowship, but the salary from the GA (including Grant-in-Aid ,vacation pay, and Graduate Financial Assistance (GFA)) will be in addition to the fellowship.

If you are able to secure work as a Teaching Assistant (TA), the $7,534 offset and GFA will be counted towards the fellowship, but the salary (including Grant-in-Aid and vacation pay) from the TA will be in addition to the fellowship.

If you are able to secure funding in the form of a research assistantship (RA), it “may be in addition” to the fellowship.

Domestic Masters Students   

Domestic Masters students are guaranteed $10,000 a year. To this amount is added $1000 as a Health Care Graduate Bursary. This leaves the student with $5,784 after tuition. In most cases, the $10,000 will consist of a fellowship, which is paid out three times a year in the Fall, Winter, and Summer. If a student gets an external scholarship, it will count towards the fellowship amount. Any smaller scholarships or bursaries, including the York Graduate Scholarship, will be in addition to the fellowship.

If you are able to secure work as a Graduate Assistant (GA), the salary from the GA (including Grant-in-Aid and vacation pay) will be in addition to the fellowship. The email does not specify what happens to the GFA in this case.

If you are able to secure work as a Teaching Assistant (TA), the fellowship will be reduced to $5,403, and the salary (including Grant-in-Aid, vacation pay, and GFA) from the TA will be in addition to this fellowship amount.

If you are able to secure funding in the form of a research assistantship (RA), it “may be in addition” to the fellowship.

International Doctoral Students

International Doctoral students are guaranteed $34,403 a year. To this amount is added $600 to cover UHIP. This leaves the student with $15,972 after tuition. In most cases, the $34,403 will consist of a fellowship, which is paid out three times a year in the Fall, Winter, and Summer, salary from a TA or GA, the GFA, and the amount of tuition offset owed, depending on whether or not the student pays higher tuition fees. The amount of the fellowship is calculated by subtracting salary, GFA, and offset amounts from $34,403. If a student gets an external scholarship, it will count towards the fellowship amount. Any smaller scholarships or bursaries, including the York Graduate Scholarship, will be in addition to the fellowship.

If you are able to secure funding in the form of a research assistantship (RA), it will be counted towards the fellowship.

The $1000 Health Care Graduate Bursary will be added for those who do not have a TA or GA contract.

Domestic Doctoral Students

Domestic Doctoral students are guaranteed $22,722 a year. This leaves the student with $17,506 after tuition. In most cases, the $22,722 will consist of a fellowship, which is paid out three times a year in the Fall, Winter, and Summer, salary from a TA or GA, and the GFA. The amount of the fellowship is calculated by subtracting salary and GFA from $22,722. If a student gets an external scholarship, it will count towards the fellowship amount. Any smaller scholarships or bursaries, including the York Graduate Scholarship, will be in addition to the fellowship.

If you are able to secure funding in the form of a research assistantship (RA), it will be counted towards the fellowship.

The $1000 Health Care Graduate Bursary will be added for those who do not have a TA or GA contract.

The table below attempts to summarize this complicated model as clearly as possible.

Student Status International Masters Domestic Masters International PhD Domestic PhD
Minimum guaranteed funding $19,256 $10,000 $34,403 $22,722
Health care $600 UHIP + $1000 Health Care Graduate Bursary $1000 Health Care Graduate Bursary $600 UHIP,($1000 HCGB only if not holding a TA or GA) ($1000 HCGB only if not holding a TA or GA)
External scholarships Count towards the fellowship Count towards the fellowship Count towards the fellowship Count towards the fellowship
Bursaries,small scholarships, YGS, etc. Don’t count towards the fellowship Don’t count towards the fellowship Don’t count towards the fellowship Don’t count towards the fellowship
GA Work Salary + GFA in addition to guaranteed funding, offset counts towards fellowship Salary in addition to guaranteed funding, GFA unspecified Salary counts towards guaranteed funding, GFA + offset count towards fellowship Salary + GFA count towards guaranteed funding
TA Work Salary in addition to guaranteed funding, offset + GFA count towards fellowship Fellowship reduced to $5,403, salary + GFA in addition to fellowship Salary counts towards guaranteed funding, GFA + offset count towards offset Salary + GFA count towards guaranteed funding
RA Funding May be counted towards the fellowship May be counted towards the fellowship Counts towards the fellowship Counts towards the fellowship

York has repeatedly assured us that this new funding model is meant to increase transparency and accountability, as well as support students towards better completion times. Leaving aside that cutting benefits and funds can only be detrimental to student success, FGS is about to face an influx of confused students trying to figure out why their fellowship was arbitrarily slashed when they secured a TA, or whether their GFA is in addition to their fellowship. The arbitrariness of this model is shamelessly built into the stipulation that RAs for Masters students “may be” counted towards the fellowship. This seems like a way from the university to funnel better funding packages into departments that better fit its business model, whereas students in other departments continue to experience what we’ve known all along — when York offers you a minimum guarantee, they are really telling you the very maximum they are willing to pay.

Moreover, none of these funding emails mention the fact that summer funding is built into our collective agreements (CAs), in recognition of the fact that our members still need to pay their bills and feed their families during the relatively dry summer months. York’s claim during a YUGSA event that that this “funding model is done with respect and care and adherence to the CA” of CUPE 3903 is woefully inaccurate. While fellowships will be paid out in three equal installments, including in the summer, for those whose funding will mostly rely on a TA or GA salary, this system not only contravenes the CAs, but also impoverishes members for four months every year.

Finally, the emails sent to PhD students stated that the fellowship will only be valid for five years. It is unclear what will happen to the extensions guaranteed in our CA, including the sixth year of priority pool status for PhDs holding a TA.

York may respond that it still needs to fine-tune a few things and this system will be fully functional, but we know better. Students are being asked to swallow a funding model that is needlessly complicated and arbitrary so that York can bust our union and pad its pockets off our backs.