Nominations for Executive Elections Open on February 2

The CUPE 3903 red-star logo

The CUPE 3903 red-star logo

Nominations for the executive committee elections will be open from Tuesday, February 2 to Monday, February 22 at 5pm. All members in good standing are encouraged to run for the executive positions listed here. For a fuller description of the responsibilities of the executive committee, see articles 8 and 9 of the CUPE 3903 bylaws. Please note that the TFAC Co-Chairs will be elected through a separate process.

Nomination forms must be completed in accordance with Article 14.l of our bylaws:

(b) Nomination for any position must be signed by the nominee and by two additional members in good standing and addressed to the election officers. Nominations must be brought to the union office during the nominations period. Each nominee must also record his/her nomination by signing the register that is to be publicly displayed next to the nomination box.
(c) Only members in good standing can be nominated and no member may sign more than one (1) nomination for his/her own candidacy in the same nomination and election period.
(d) If at the end of the nomination period only one (1) candidate is nominated, the executive, on the advice of the elections officers, shall declare the position filled by acclamation.


Please note that nomination forms for unit-specific positions (namely Chief Stewards and Vice-Presidents) must be signed by two members of that unit.

A minimum of two weeks of campaigning will follow the nomination period. Voting will begin at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which will take place on the week of March 7. A more detailed timeline will be posted soon.

International Tuition Increased Despite Tuition Freeze

A member carries a sign saying "protect international students" at the January 20th rally.

A member carries a sign saying “protect international students” at the January 20th rally.

On the same day that the employer expressed a desire to “repair the relationship” with CUPE 3903, we discovered a hike in the tuition of international graduate students of roughly $800-900 for the year. When we ended our strike in March 2015, point 10 of the memorandum of settlement read:

From the date of ratification onward, for the term of the collective agreement, the university commits that there will be no increases in tuition fees for domestic or international graduate students (except MBA, IMBA, MPA, part-time LLM students, MHRM, and MDes).

The employer has since confirmed the increase, claiming that it was done “in error”, and will be reversed immediately. They also offered us their “sincerest apologies”.

These continued “errors”, like the one that saw hundreds of members underpaid or not paid at all over the summer, mean that York either obtains or keeps funds that it can invest into its roughly $1B budget, while our members scramble to make ends meet. We can’t help but notice that York benefits massively from these “mistakes” and has never found and corrected one without getting caught first.

York has taken great offense to our #YorkLies campaign, claiming their good intentions. The employer does not seem to understand that their supposedly good intentions won’t put food on our plates, or pay our rent. We’ve had enough of York’s apologies.

New Protocol for Complaints, Including Assault, Harassment, and Discrimination

CUPE 3903 has successfully negotiated a new protocol with Faculty Relations to respond to the needs of members who make a complaint or a disclosure to the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, Security Services, Health, Safety and Employee Well Being, Counselling and Disability Services, or the Centre for Human Rights, including but not limited to a complaint or a disclosure of harassment, discrimination or assault.

This protocol is meant to ensure that members are properly represented when making disclosures or complaints, and also clarifies the process to be followed by specifying contacts for each faculty who are responsible for coordinating employment and student related matters.

For more information:

Proposed Funding Model Raises Serious Concerns

A unicorn stylized like the York Lions mascot, with the words "York Lies". Members dubbed this proposed model "the unicorn".

Members dubbed this proposed model “the unicorn”.

On Wednesday, January 27, the employer met with CUPE 3903 to present the “radically different” funding model they have been dangling before us since mid-December, including as part of our first arbitration date. On the whole, the presentation was woefully incomplete on several levels, especially in terms of thinking through how these new funding models interact with our collective agreements. The presentation, framed as a consultation, was unsatisfactory in answering many of our questions; below is what we know so far.

New funding model: Fellowships

The essence of the new funding model would be to replace the current system with “fellowships”, which are amounts meant to universalize funding packages and cover tuition. A different amount would be set out for domestic Masters students, international Masters students, domestic PhD students, and international PhD students. Fellowships would contain any work done as a TA or GA, grant-in-aid (GIA) and Graduate Financial Assistance (GFA). As the latter varies by year of study to reflect the decreased use of university resources post-coursework, it is not clear how these would be integrated in a fellowship that applies equally to all students sharing the same degree and student status.

This deeply affects Unit 3

While PhD students would continue working as Teaching Assistants, the plan is to guarantee funding for Masters students without giving them any work. While this may at first glance seem like York is paying Masters students to study, they are saving enormous amounts of money by taking work away from these students. Without work, Masters students would not be unionized, and would thus lose access to benefits and funds. In health benefits alone, all members are entitled to a maximum of $6400 plus 100% prescription coverage per calendar year. The employer has said that they are looking into health plans that could cover the Masters students left out of the union, but the amount floated was $1000. The Ways and Means Fund, Extended Health Benefits, Child Care Fund, Trans Fund, funding extensions for students with disabilities, and many more funds and benefits that we have spent decades building and fighting for fall out of reach of Masters students. Moreover, any new funding arrangement would not be enshrined in a collective agreement, and therefore could not be legally protected.

What’s happening to all the Graduate Assistantships (GAs)?

Implying that most GAs are only “make-work”, the employer plans to review all departments and decide which are “legitimate” GAs. Those that remain will be posted and students can apply to them. Essentially, this decimates Unit 3. On the other hand, the employer has said that they want to increase the number of graduate students working on research projects with faculty. They don’t appear to understand that we consider this sort of work as part of Unit 3, and not an RA (While “RA” stands for “Research Assistantship”, in York’s context, if a member is working on someone else’s research, this is considered work and thus coded as a GA).

What this means for tuition indexation

At this point, it’s not completely clear what implications this funding model has for tuition indexation in general, or our grievance currently at arbitration in particular. The employer does claim that they support indexing these fellowships to increases in tuition. Questions about whether our current language supports this or not, and whether they’d code the fellowships as tuition waivers to avoid the wording of the language as it exists right now were not answered.

Looking forward to bargaining

Our current collective agreements expire at the end of August 2017. It seems apparent that the employer is hoping to negotiate some substantial changes to our collective agreements in order to make these fellowships as they envision them functional. This is a time for mobilization; it will be up to the membership to decide what parts of this new funding model, if any, we agree to without a fight.

Unit 4 Bargaining Update #5

On Wednesday, January 20, and Friday, January 22, the Unit 4 bargaining team met with the employer to continue the bargaining process. We have achieved some movement, most notably by approving a full benefits package which matches that of the three other units.

This is good news, but the most arduous parts of the bargaining are still to come. Defining roles and responsibilities of the members of Unit 4, establishing fair wages, and determining a fair way of calculating seniority are still on the table. These are crucial articles, which will have a deep impact on Unit 4’s working conditions.

The next bargaining meeting will take place Wednesday, February 10, from 1pm to 5pm, in Ross S802. All members are encouraged to attend in support of Unit 4, and to show the employer that we won’t settle for anything short of a fair contract.

Temporary Staff Representative Hired

In November, Staff Representative Mohan Mishra announced that he would be taking a six-month leave from the local, leaving us in need of a temporary staff rep. Sandra Hudson has been hired as our new temporary staff rep. She was an organizer of students’ support for CUPE 3902, and has been a very active and committed organizer and mobilizer in the U of T Students Union and in social justice organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Common Front Ontario, and the Black Liberation Committee (a cross-campus student network resisting anti-Black Racism in post-secondary education institutions). She has a strong commitment to and practice of anti-oppression politics. Sandra will be joining our staff team as of February 1, 2016, and we hope all members will welcome and support her.

The process of hiring a staff rep involved electing a Hiring Committee (HC) during the November GMM, which put together hiring procedures which were approved by the membership during the December GMM. The HC then endorsed a candidate during the January 7 GMM. The executive committee, as the employer of the local’s staff, needs to rubber-stamp all hiring decisions. Consequently, an exec meeting was scheduled for January 12. However, on January 11, a member of the HC informed the Chairperson that some members of the HC wanted to have a final meeting to discuss their recommendation. Consequently, the exec meeting was postponed. The Chairperson was subsequently informed on January 14 that the HC would not be meeting after all, and an executive committee meeting was promptly called for January 18, then postponed until January 19 so that the Grievance Officer, who sits on the HC, could attend. At this meeting, the executive passed a motion to offer the position to the successful candidate, which they have since accepted.

We are hoping to learn from the complications and delays of this hiring process, and will form a committee to write a report and make recommendations in order to ensure that future hiring processes run smoothly and in a timely fashion.

All Out: Rally to Defend Tuition Indexation!

Rally to Defend Tuition Indexation
Wednesday, January 20 at noon
Main Gate (York Boulevard near Keele St)

Remember how we went on strike in March 2015? Members of Units 1 and 3 stayed out on the picket line for a month in order to protect tuition indexation, which is a provision that makes it so that any increase in tuition must be matched with an increase in funding.

CUPE 3903 members holding picket signs and flags.

CUPE 3903 members holding picket signs and flags.

We ratified a deal that included a “tuition offset” which we were told would act like tuition indexation. So why are we rallying on January 20? Because York lied when we settled, and quickly started finding ways to avoid meeting their obligations towards international graduate students.

We are pursuing the matter in arbitration (check out the latest update). While the legal process crawls along, we can show York a little bit of what they can expect if they refuse to honour our agreements. So dig out your strike clothes, get bundled up, and join us on Wednesday at noon for a rally at Main Gate!

What you can expect:

A pink sign in the snow reads "Education is a right! Keep tuition indexation".

A pink sign in the snow reads “Education is a right! Keep tuition indexation”.

  • Great speakers
  • Snacks and coffee
  • Tokens
  • Strike bonus cheques will be available for pick-up
  • Safety vests (for the sake of nostalgia)

The fight for tuition indexation is one that will define the future of graduate education at York. We stand strong against this continued attempt to raise tuition despite our collective agreements.

When education is under attack, there’s only one thing we can do: stand up fight back!

Vacancy on the Executive Committee Filled

On January 4, it was announced that the position of Recording Secretary was vacant due to resignation. Considering the timing of the general elections for the executive committee in February-March, the Elections Officers strongly recommended that the Executive pro-tem a Recording Secretary until the general elections.

Article 14 V. (b) of the bylaws reads:

By a simple majority vote the executive may fill a vacancy on a pro tem basis with any member in good standing. Such vacancies must be posted in the union office at least two weeks prior to the executive meeting where the vacancy is to be filled. Executive positions filled on a pro tem basis must be advertised as open positions for the agenda of the next general membership meeting where nominations will be opened and elections held as per Section II. of the present article. Executive Committee members may only hold one (1) position on the Executive Committee.

Nominations were open for two weeks, from January 4 to January 18. Four candidates put their name forward: Hazel Gashoka, Tracey Mann, Hawa Y Mire, and Deidre Walton. The vote was held at the January 18 Executive Committee meeting, and Hazel Gashoka was pro temmed as Recording Secretary.

Nominations to permanently fill these positions will open at the same time as the nomination period for the general elections.

Unit 4 Bargaining Update #4

On Thursday, January 7, 2016 our bargaining team met with York University representatives for the sixth time.

We are continuing the “sign off” process through which both sides discover Articles of agreement. We are near agreement on all non-monetary issues (Articles 1-9) and have begun talks regarding benefits, seniority, and compensation. The University has signaled agreement in principle that the benefit package for Part-time Librarian and Archivists correspond to existing CUPE agreements. There remains, however, much work to be done.

Please note, when we begin talks on substantive issues the presence of members from our unit during meetings would be effective. The location and time of each meeting will be posted on the Unit 4 listserv (yorku-ptlibs@googlegroups.com) and the Unit 4 Bargaining page.

Vacancy on the Executive Committee

Sonja Killoran-McKibbin has resigned from the position of Recording Secretary. Considering the timing of the general elections for the executive committee in February-March, the Elections Officers have recommended that the Executive pro-tem a Recording Secretary until the general elections. This will take place during the Executive Committee meeting on January 18.

Article 14 V. (b) of the bylaws reads:

By a simple majority vote the executive may fill a vacancy on a pro tem basis with any member in good standing. Such vacancies must be posted in the union office at least two weeks prior to the executive meeting where the vacancy is to be filled. Executive positions filled on a pro tem basis must be advertised as open positions for the agenda of the next general membership meeting where nominations will be opened and elections held as per Section II. of the present article. Executive Committee members may only hold one (1) position on the Executive Committee.

To nominate yourself for this position, email cupe3903vpu1@gmail.com by January 18 at 9am.