Summary of tentative agreements – Units 1 and 3

A CUPE 3903 bargaining ad on the side of a TTC bus

A CUPE 3903 bargaining ad on the side of a TTC bus

On Tuesday, March 31, CUPE 3903 members will vote on the tentative agreement made on Sunday, March 29, between the Employer and the Union’s Bargaining Team. Below are links to: 1) a summary of the changes; and 2) the actual language agreed upon by the two parties.

Ratification vote to be held Tuesday, March 31

A silhouette of someone dropping a ballot into a ballot box

A silhouette of someone dropping a ballot into a ballot bo

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The next ratification vote will take place on Tuesday, March 31 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. near Keele campus at the Rexall Centre. The Rexall Centre is not legally part of the York University campus, so members will not have to cross picket lines to attend the ratification vote.

Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. During the meeting, the Bargaining Team will present the Employer’s latest offer and explain their recommendation of it.

The presentation will last for up to one hour, followed by another hour of discussion (2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Voting by secret ballot will open at the beginning of the meeting, and be available for two hours afterwards – for a total of four hours (2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.). Unit 1 and Unit 3 members will vote separately on each of their own offers.

Details of the latest offer for each of the two units will be available in print version at the meeting and may be read here:

The ratification meeting is governed by Article 13 (II) (c) of the bylaws. The overall ratification process is governed by Article 22 of the bylaws and the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

If members vote by a simple majority (by unit) to ratify the Terms of Settlement (the Employer’s offer), the strike will end and members will likely return to work on Wednesday, April 1. If members vote by a simple majority (by unit) to reject the Terms of Settlement, the strike will continue.

Members should note that the strike is still underway. There will be one picket line at Main Gate from 7:30-1:00 on Tuesday, March 31. Members should picket for 4 hours (within that time slot) to qualify for strike pay.

Further details about the meeting will be posted here and shared widely with the members as soon as they are confirmed.

For more information, please email


1:30 p.m. Doors open

2:00 p.m. Presentation by the Bargaining Team of the Employer’s latest offer / voting begins

3:00 p.m. Discussion and questions for the Bargaining Team / voting continues

4:00 p.m. Call for scrutineers (12) / meeting ends / voting continues

6:00 p.m. Voting ends / counting of the ballots begins

The results of the vote will be announced as soon as all the ballots are counted.

Members are not obliged to attend the entire meeting in order to vote on the Employer’s latest offer, but we strongly encourage members to attend and listen to the bargaining report before voting, if possible. Members may vote anytime between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Please bring a piece of ID.

A FREE fully accessible shuttle bus will run from the Main Gate (York Boulevard and Keele Street) on the day of the ratification vote, starting at 1:30 p.m. and every 20 minutes until 6:30 p.m. (or until 30 minutes after the end of the meeting, if it runs later than 6:00 p.m.). The shuttle will drop off members at the west entrance to the Rexall Centre, in the rear parking lot. The shuttle will depart from the same location and return members to the Main Gate, starting at 1:50 p.m. and every 20 minutes until the meeting ends.

The Rexall Centre is owned by Tennis Canada and is not legally part of the York University campus; therefore, members will not be crossing picket lines in order to access the venue.

In terms of accessibility, the Rexall Centre is wheelchair accessible and immediately adjacent to the York University campus.

Find the Rexall Centre on this map.

Please contact Sheila Wilmot at or at 416-736-5154 ext. 3 if you require any of the following: ASL interpretation, reimbursement for childcare/caregiver/attendant care, and/or transportation costs for members who are unable to secure Wheel-Trans, or other requests for accommodation.

Tentative settlement reached. Employer capitulates: CUPE 3903 wins tuition offset, LGBTQ as Equity group, improved Unit 3 minimum funding

A drawing of marchers in silhouette, carrying a large red banner

A drawing of marchers in silhouette, carrying a large red banner

The last three weeks of our struggle have been an incredible source of energy: undergraduates, other unions on campus, and many social justice organizations have walked the lines with us; our Unit 2 (contract faculty) members have continued to support their Union comrades; the media has started to take seriously the problems in the University sector; our comrades at CUPE 3902 at the University of Toronto marched for four hours between our two campuses in an act of extraordinary solidarity. This afternoon, all this work has come to a head.

The CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team (BT) and York University (the Employer) have reached a tentative agreement for Unit 1 (teaching assistants) and Unit 3 (graduate assistants). The Employer’s last offer addresses the three core demands of the Union, as well as our concerns regarding back-to-work protocol. In particular:

  • The Employer has agreed to tuition offset language, indexed to 2012 rates. This means that if tuition fees for domestic or international students rise above 2012 rates – which are the same as the 2005 rates – the University will increase funding for all in-program and incoming students to offset the tuition fee increase. It also means that the international students will receive increased funding equal to the amount of the recent international student fee increases. In brief, this means the Employer has agreed to the substance of the Union’s tuition indexation proposal.
  • The Employer has agreed to make LGBTQ an employment equity group, and agreed to the Union’s proposal to meet with the Union at the Employment Equity Committee within three months of ratification to begin the implementation process.
  • For Unit 3, the Employer has agreed to increase summer minimum funding from $1,750 to $3,000, in addition to previously agreed-to Graduate Financial Assistance and wage increases. This represents a further increase of $750 over the Employer’s last offer, an increase of over 70 per cent.
  • On the question of the back-to-work protocol, the Employer has agreed to pay all Unit 1 and Unit 3 members 100 per cent back pay for the time on strike.

Together, these achievements represent a significant improvement over the Employer’s last offer, and demonstrate the gains that have come as a result of the strike. None of this would have been possible without the dedication and countless hours of work of done by our rank-and-file members. Congratulations to the entire membership of CUPE 3903 for this historic achievement for all three units of our local!

The BT has agreed to send the offer to a ratification vote and will be unanimously recommending that the membership vote “yes” to the offer.

Details will follow soon on the date, time, and location of the ratification vote.

Picket lines will remain in force until the end of the vote (but we will NOT be adding an evening picket shift).

Strike to win!

Latest update on strike pay (March 29)

Members of CUPE 3903 join the picket line at the main gate of York University.

Members of CUPE 3903 join the picket line at the main gate of York University.

Latest update on strike pay (March 29)

CUPE 3903 is currently issuing cheques for all forms of strike pay for members, including supplementary cheques to cover any discrepancies in pay. Executive Committee members and a team of rank-and-file volunteers have been working all weekend to expedite processing of Strike Pay Discrepancy Forms (available here) and the release of cheques.

We hope that all remaining cheques will be issued by Wednesday morning – at the latest, if not sooner. As soon as the release date is confirmed, it will be posted to the website and announced over union email lists.

In addition, both the Executive Committee and a Special General Membership Meeting have passed motions that:

  • Guarantee that all members who applied for alternate duty within the first ten days of the strike, but who did not receive a response with clear instructions, will be paid full strike pay by CUPE 3903 from the date of their request to the date they have been assigned alternate duty, after which they will be paid for the hours they perform;
  • Guarantee that all members whose alternate duty tasks have been approved by CUPE 3903, regardless of whether CUPE National approves, will be paid their hours in full by CUPE 3903 for the duration of the strike.

If you have not yet collected your strike pay, or have noticed a discrepancy in your pay, please follow these directions to collect your cheque:

  • If you requested alternate duty within the first ten days of the strike, but have not received a response with clear instructions, please do not re-send your request. These requests are currently being processed, and you will receive a response shortly, including instructions about how to collect your cheque.
  • If you performed picket duty or alternate duty, but no cheque was issued in your name, complete the Strike Pay Discrepancy Form and email it to with “MISSING CHEQUE” in the subject line.
  • If you received a cheque but noticed a discrepancy between your pay and what you should have been paid, complete the Strike Pay Discrepancy Form and email it to with “DISCREPANCY” in the subject line.
  • If a cheque was issued in your name, and you would like it to be mailed to you, email your mailing address to with “MAIL CHEQUE” in the subject line.
  • If a cheque was issued in your name, and you require a third party to collect it for you, the third party must present an original note with your signature on it that authorizes the release of your cheque.

We apologize for the delay in issuing cheques, and thank the members for their patience and support as we attempt to rectify the situation. We also thank all the rank-and-file volunteers who have spent countless hours this weekend helping to process members’ claims.

Evening picket: member sign-up

Unite the Fight march leaving Glendon campus on March 27

Unite the Fight march leaving Glendon campus on March 27

Starting on Monday, March 30, we will be adding an evening picket shift, from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Depending on numbers, we will have a flying picket or one or two picket lines at Keele campus.

To help us plan, please indicate which evenings (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday) you are planning to join us this week.

Email your availability to

Bargaining update #25

Members of CUPE 3903 and 3902 and their allies rally at Queen's Park.

Members of CUPE 3903 and 3902 and their allies rally at Queen’s Park.

On March 19, CUPE 3903 clearly communicated to the Employer what the Union needed to settle negotiations: Tuition indexation for all members of Units 1 and 3, a modest minimum of funding for members of Unit 3, and the introduction of LGTBQ as an effective employment equity category.

On March 24, the Employer responded to CUPE 3903’s demands through the provincially-appointed mediator:

  • They agreed to sit down with the union within six months to create a plan for the implementation of the new employment equity category.
  • They put forward language that addresses some of our concerns around tuition indexation. This includes offsetting tuition increases for all incoming members of the Union at the same rate, rather than at different rates as determined by when someone begins studying at York.
  • However, much to the disappointment of the Union, the Employer ignored the Union’s proposal to establish a $12,500 minimum funding guarantee for Unit 3 members.

These are moves in the right direction. At a Special General Membership Meeting on March 26, CUPE 3903 members reaffirmed what they need to bring an end to negotiations:

  • Tuition indexation that reverses the Employer’s re-interpretation of what that principle means. Members need both domestic and international students’ tuition rates returned to the 2005 level, and also need assurances that all incoming students are protected from future hikes. The Employer has proposed leaving rates at the 2014 level, which leaves international students paying about $7,000 more than they were two years ago.
  • A minimum of monetary support for those Master’s students who are most poorly funded.
  • An accelerated implementation of a plan that meets our employment equity concerns.

As a consequence, the CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team met on Friday morning (March 27) to craft counter-proposals to our Employer’s last offer. These include:

  1. Tuition indexation that accepts the framework of the Employer’s last offer, but with two important modifications: first, that all monies given to members to offset any future tuition increases will come in the form of funding, and not in the form of more work. Accepting offset monies in the form of work translates into working more for the same level of funding, which the Union cannot accept. Second, the base-year against which tuition raises are measured cannot be 2014, as suggested by the Employer, but must instead be 2012. This would ensure that the tuition hikes levied on International students would be reversed.
  2. A minimum guarantee for Unit 3 of at least $12,500. Many Unit 3 members already make more than this, meaning the Employer should be able to implement this proposal at a relatively modest cost.
  3. Sit down with the Union within three months, rather than six, to create a plan for the implementation of LGBTQ as an employment equity category.

Lastly, the Employer has proposed a back-to-work protocol that would see Units 1 and 3 receive only 92% of their pay. This neglects that members will still have to complete all of their duties when they return to work. It also neglects that there may be even more work to do, given the disarray that the Employer has created by attempting to re-open classes. As a consequence, the Union is demanding that members receive 100% of their pay, and that supervisors sit with Union members before work starts to determine how classes will move forward. The Union is also demanding that any interest levied on unpaid tuition during the strike be returned to our members.

The Union’s demands are more than reasonable, and are affordable within the context of the University’s operating budget of over $1 billion. Giving members tuition offsets that are indexed at 2012 levels would simply return money that, in the Union’s view, should have been returned already; adding LGBTQ to existing employment equity will cost nothing; offering Master’s students who are underfunded a higher minimum level of funding will cost little more than the salary now received by York’s president.

CUPE 3903 is confident that our Employer will recognize the legitimacy of these demands, and that members will be back to work in the very near future.

How to fix strike pay discrepancies

The CUPE 3903 red-star logo

The CUPE 3903 red-star logo

CUPE 3903 is in the process of addressing the numerous discrepancies that members have identified in their strike pay. We are committed to correcting these discrepancies as quickly as possible.

If you have a discrepancy in your strike pay, please complete the Strike Pay Discrepancy Form (click form to download) and email it to

If you have already emailed the Treasurer about a strike pay discrepancy, please do not send an additional email. Your original email will be processed soon. Sending an additional email will likely delay the correction of your strike pay.

The Treasurer and a team of volunteers will be working all weekend to correct any discrepancies in members’ strike pay. You will be contacted as soon as your cheque is ready. Members may pick up their cheques from strike headquarters or have them mailed to them.

We apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience.

CUPE 3903 & 3902 rally for accessible, high quality education

CUPE 3903 has released its sixth video, “CUPE 3903 & 3902 rally for accessible, high quality education”. Featuring striking education workers at York University and the University of Toronto, this video covers the March 21 rally and march for accessible, high quality education, jointly organized by CUPE 3903 and 3902.

Please share widely!

To view the video on the CUPE 3903 YouTube channel, please click here.

Bargaining update #24

Members of CUPE 3903 and 3902 and their allies rally at Queen's Park.

Members of CUPE 3903 and 3902 and their allies rally at Queen’s Park.

On Tuesday, March 24, the mediator handed the Bargaining Team (BT) a set of counters from the Employer.

The Employer’s counters make significant moves on our key issues of tuition indexation and the LGBTQ proposal. While these represent improvements over the Employer’s previous position, more must be done.

The Employer proposed new tuition indexation language in our Letter of Intent 6. Their language has two main differences from ours. Our proposal is for a dollar-for-dollar increase in which tuition increases are matched by funding increases. York’s proposal is that, if tuition increases, then funding becomes available, but it could come either from more work or from Graduate Financial Assistance (GFA). Given that we are still protected by our current Collective Agreement language ensuring we do no more than 10 hours of work a week, it seems likely that this extra work would be attached to summer funding.

The second difference between the Employer’s counter and our indexation proposal is that the language will protect visa and domestic students from tuition hikes from the rates of September 1, 2014 instead of going back to 2005. While the counter presented by the Employer is significant insofar as it will protect both incoming and current students from tuition increases, their current counter also requires that we accept the huge hike in international students tuition fees that they unilaterally imposed on our members in 2013.

This is problematic as it does not address the situation that many international students now face: $0 pay cheques. This goes against the principle of indexation that CUPE 3903 has been fighting for in arbitration and on the picket lines. If international student tuition fees remain at their current levels, York will be able to attract wealthy international students, but we must ask what this will mean for the diversity of our membership. As class, race, and gender intersect, this aspect of the Employer’s counter represents a serious equity concern for CUPE 3903.

In regards to our LGBTQ proposal, the Employer has countered with the following:

“5.03.1 No later than 6 months following the ratification of the 2014-17 collective agreement a subcommittee of the Joint Labour Management equity group under the collective agreement and the CUPE 3903 Employment Equity Plan, taking into account the absence of reliable external representational data. The Plan to include LGBTQ as an employment equity group will be recommended to the parties and the agreed upon plan will be promptly implemented.”

The Bargaining Team is pleased with the Employer’s movement in this area and is working on a counter to address a few remaining issues.

Lastly, although tuition indexation and our LGBTQ proposal are also included in the Unit 3 collective agreement, there was no movement from the Employer on the issue of Unit 3 minimum funding. We are very disappointed that the Employer continues to ignore the concerns and needs of our Unit 3 members.

The Employer’s counter on tuition indexation and the Employer’s refusal to address the issue of Unit 3 funding will be discussed at the Special General Membership Meeting on Thursday, March 26. The BT is seeking direction from the membership prior to presenting a counter to the Employer on Friday, March 27.

The dedication of our members on the picket lines and in other essential strike duties over the last three weeks is working, and we have finally seen real movement from the Employer on the principle of indexation. But they must do more to address the issues facing Unit 3 and international students. We thank members for their hard work and support on the picket lines and we ask that you continue to stand with us as we bargain for a better deal.

Applying pressure for a fair contract: upcoming actions and a picket update

Picket line with metal safety gate at Glendon campus

Picket line with metal safety gate at Glendon campus

Our goal remains to negotiate a fair contract that meets our members’ identified priorities as soon as possible. In order to achieve this, we need to increase the pressure on the administration through creative actions and mobilizations.

This Friday, many of our members will be taking part in a march from Glendon campus to U of T. Members that have been picketing at Keele campus are encouraged to go to Glendon and join in this action. We will maintain only one picket line at Keele campus on Friday – the picket at Main Gate. So, picketers can join the Main Gate line at 7:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. or go to Glendon for 11:30 a.m. In each case, make sure you sign in and out with a picket captain. For further details on the Glendon to U of T march, see the link above.

On Saturday, we were planning a creative info picket for York’s Spring Open House. However, it looks like they have cancelled the event. Sadly, we can’t trust everything YorkU tells us, so we are going ahead with a Saturday picket from 9:00 until 1:00. Please meet at Main Gate. If there is an open house, we will be ready, otherwise we will find some other fun (and perhaps disruptive) things to do!

Next week, we will add an evening picket shift from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on selected days. The goal is to add evening picket lines on Sentinel and Main Gate on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. But next week, we will start with a Monday (March 30) evening picket at Sentinel and Main Gate (3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.).