Join CUPE 3903 on Labour Day


Monday, September 1
Assemble at 9:00 a.m. | Parade begins at 9:30 a.m.
Assemble in Section 2
West side of University Avenue, south of Dundas Street West

TTC: St. Patrick | Map

CUPE 3903 will join the Labour Day contingent organized by the CUPE Toronto District Council, which will assemble with all CUPE Ontario members at 9:00 a.m. on the west side of University Avenue, south of Dundas Street West. The parade will finish near the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE).

CUPE Toronto District Council will provide free wristbands for participants to access the CNE.

For more information, please click here.

Bargaining update #2

Bargaining Team members and supporters on their way to the second bargaining meeting with the employer (photo credit: Mohan Mishra)

August 20, 2014 – Bargaining Team members and supporters on their way to the second bargaining meeting with the employer (photo credit: Mohan Mishra)

Items in this update: 

  • Bargaining news
  • Mobilization news
  • Upcoming meetings
  • Communications update

Bargaining news

This week’s meeting was our second with the employer, but the first substantial negotiation session. While we did not present any of our proposals, we provided a broad overview of the proposal package, its key themes, and the related issues we intend to address in bargaining.

After introducing the rank-and-file members present, the Bargaining Team set the agenda of the meeting and effectively dictated the pace of the discussion. We began by reading our equality statement, and then outlined the bargaining parameters that the membership approved at the Special General Membership Meeting on July 11. We reminded the employer that these parameters reflect our local’s commitment to a democratic, open bargaining process, in which all members are welcome to attend negotiating sessions.

In the overview of our bargaining proposals, we emphasized that these proposals are driven by our members’ demands for fairness, equity and a better working environment – all of which are essential ingredients for improving learning conditions for undergraduate students at York University. These themes, which emerged through a thorough analysis of bargaining surveys and widespread membership consultation, include: tuition and funding (for Units 1 and 3); job security and the stabilization of working conditions for contract faculty (Unit 2); pedagogy and learning conditions at York; employment equity and transparency; and wages and benefits. We explained to the employer’s negotiating team, led by Barry Miller, Executive Director of Faculty Relations, that our members are dismayed by the culture at York that seems impervious to equity concerns, and by the difficult working conditions that our members face.

We also continued to press the employer about the information that we requested at our June 13 meeting, but have yet to receive. Employers are required by law to provide this information, and our Bargaining Team needs it to move the process forward. While they agreed to follow up on some of these outstanding items, the employer’s negotiator expressed reluctance to give us a financial costing of our collective agreements. We will continue to press them on this matter.

One issue that the employer did flag is that the findings of the Academic and Administrative Review Process (AAPR) that York is currently conducting will affect their consideration of our proposals. What this means is that the university has plans for restructuring departments, programs and graduate studies – a major concern for us. The good news is that the AAPR reports will not be tabled until November, so this gives us time to consider the issue and get out in front of it. We hope to devote some time at an upcoming GMM or SGMM to explain this review to members and strategically consider how we will respond to it.

Also of note is that the employer suggested we retain a “neutral” third-party mediator in order to help both parties negotiate over particularly thorny issues, when either side deems the mediator potentially useful. While they made a similar request in the 2011/12 round of bargaining, we have never agreed to such an arrangement because it is generally viewed as being more of a hindrance than a help in allowing the union to secure a fair settlement with the employer. We also view it as a waste of members’ money, as the union will have to foot half the bill for a mediator. The consensus amongst the Bargaining Team and all the members present was to reject this suggestion.

Finally, there was agreement between the union and the employer that we will begin more regular negotiation sessions in mid-September. As always, we encourage members to attend Bargaining Team meetings and bargaining sessions with the employer. We will actively recruit members to participate in all bargaining sessions, with an emphasis on the specific issues to be discussed, so please watch for regular updates on our local’s website.

Mobilization news

“Rank-and-file members of CUPE 3903, along with members of the Bargaining Mobilization Committee, the Executive Committee and staff, mobilized in a show of support for the Bargaining Team at this week’s bargaining meeting with the employer. Members from all three units, representing a range of departments, from History to Biology to Equity Studies and others, carried 3903 flags and banners to the meeting, and were present throughout the discussion….”

Read the full report here.

Upcoming meetings

Save the date! A Special General Membership Meeting on bargaining has been scheduled for Friday, September 12 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Join and share on Facebook. As soon as the location is confirmed, it will be posted on the CUPE 3903 website and forwarded to the members.

All Bargaining Team meetings, including bargaining meetings with the employer, will be promoted widely among the membership and will be held in fully accessible locations. For dates, times and locations of Bargaining Team meetings, please see upcoming events.

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.

Communications update

A new bargaining section has been added to the CUPE 3903 website, with the following sub-pages: FAQBargaining Team, Parameters, Updates, Meetings, Mobilization and Contact us. All bargaining updates, along with any bargaining-specific information, will be posted online.

These updates will also be emailed to members in the weekly CUPE 3903 Newsletter. To subscribe to the CUPE 3903 Newsletter, please follow these links.

For more information about bargaining, please email

To get involved in the Bargaining Mobilization Committee, please email

Members mobilize for open bargaining

Bargaining Team supporters

Bargaining Team members, supporters and staff before this week’s bargaining meeting with the employer (photo credit: Mohan Mishra)

Rank-and-file members of CUPE 3903, along with members of the Bargaining Mobilization Committee, the Executive Committee and staff, mobilized in a show of support for the Bargaining Team at this week’s bargaining meeting with the employer. Members from all three units, representing a range of departments, from History to Biology to Equity Studies and others, carried 3903 flags and banners to the meeting, and were present throughout the discussion.

Earlier in the day, the Bargaining Team and supporters met at the CUPE 3903 office to share updates and review strategy. Afterwards, they went as a group to the bargaining meeting, where they were joined by even more supporters from the local.

Bargaining Team members are preparing a full report from this week’s bargaining meeting, which will be posted online and sent to members shortly.

In the meantime, please mark your calendars! The next important event in the local’s bargaining calendar is the Special General Membership Meeting on bargaining, which will take place on Friday, September 12 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Keele campus. The location will be announced as soon as it is confirmed.

If you would like to be part of the next mobilization of support for upcoming bargaining meetings with the employer, please email

3903 solidarity with locked-out IKEA workers

Locked-out IKEA workers in Richmond, BC (photo credit: Teamsters Local 213)

Locked-out IKEA workers in Richmond, BC (photo credit: Teamsters Local 213)

The following letter was sent by the Executive Committee to Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, in solidarity with locked-out IKEA workers:

Dear Hassan Yussuff,

As the Executive Committee of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903 (CUPE 3903), we are writing you to express our concern over the lockout by IKEA of Teamsters Local 213 members in Richmond, BC.

These workers have been locked out by this major multinational corporation for over 14 months. The Richmond, BC store is the only IKEA location in Canada, outside Quebec, that is unionized. The corporation is trying to impose a two-tier wage system and is attacking workers’ benefits.

Recently, over 140 IKEA Richmond workers signed a petition addressed to the Canadian Labour Congress and individual trade unionists urging the labour movement to carry out weekly info pickets of IKEA stores.

On July 3, we, the CUPE 3903 executive, passed the following motion:

Be it resolved that CUPE 3903 endorse the boycott call and actively organize its members and allies to participate in regular info pickets of IKEA until IKEA Richmond workers have won their fight.

Be it further resolved that CUPE 3903 contact the Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff and encourage him to launch a country-wide boycott campaign against IKEA, formally backed by the Canadian Labour Congress.

On June 21 and July 12, CUPE 3903 members joined the info pickets at the IKEA Etobicoke and North York locations, respectively. These info pickets, with participation from a variety of unions, were coordinated with similar info pickets in Burlington and Ottawa. We will actively encourage our members to build and participate in the next round of info pickets.

We recognize and appreciate that you visited the picket line in Richmond on June 2. However, we call on you and the CLC to take a leadership role in building a solidarity campaign of info pickets and officially endorsing a country-wide boycott of IKEA.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

In solidarity,
Executive Committee of CUPE 3903

* * * * *

For more information, please visit IKEA Hurts Families.


Second statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people

Over one month after the launch of the latest Israeli onslaught on the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, and with mounting evidence of Israeli violations of international law, war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, we, the Executive Committee of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 3903, re-affirm our solidarity with the occupied Palestinian people.

Israel’s military attacks during the latest onslaught have been utterly unjustified. In just over one month, the preliminary estimates reveal that Israel has killed over 1,900 Palestinians, including 1,400 civilians and 450 children. In addition, 2,979 children, 1,903 women and 356 elderly Palestinians have thus far been injured. These devastating results of the Israeli military attacks do not include the hundreds of thousands of civilians that have been displaced and tens of thousands whose homes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair. [For sources and more information, please see this report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.]

Due to the barrage of genocidal attacks of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, we call:

  • for a ceasefire with Israel only if conditioned on an end to the blockade of Gaza and the restoration of basic freedoms, including movement, unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, and unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport – all of which have been denied to the people of Gaza for over seven years; and
  • on the Canadian government to divest fully from Israel given its ongoing criminal military actions in Gaza.

We also commend and support the statement by Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors of Nazi genocide in “unequivocally condemn[ing] the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.”

We believe that it is time for the Palestinians of Gaza to be accorded the human rights they deserve, and we call on the Canadian Labour Congress, CUPE National and CUPE Ontario to echo our statement of solidarity.

In solidarity,
Executive Committee of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903

Call for nominations: Unit 3 Bargaining Team members

Raised hands

Two positions remain vacant for Unit 3 members on the Bargaining Team. The nomination period to fill these positions is now open, and ends on Wednesday, August 27 at 5:00 p.m.

Nomination forms are available in the CUPE 3903 office, 143 Atkinson College. Only Unit 3 members may be nominated for these positions.

In order to be nominated, members must:

  • Clearly sign and date their nomination form
  • Have it signed and dated by two other Unit 3 members
  • Deposit it into the nomination box at the CUPE 3903 office before August 27 at 5:00pm
  • Clearly sign and date the nomination register on top of the nomination box

For more information, please contact the Election Officers:

Graeme Reniers:

Donya Ziaee:

The nomination and election of Bargaining Team members is governed by the bylaws of CUPE 3903, available here.

August GMM: Tentative agenda

General Membership Meeting

Monday, August 18
4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Life Sciences Building, Room 103
Keele campus

Join and share on Facebook.

Agenda *

1) Roll call of the officers (5 minutes)

2) Reading of the Equality Statement

3) Reading of the Mississauga Land Acknowledgement

4) Reading and approval of minutes of previous meeting(s) (10 minutes)
- June 17, 2014 GMM
- July 11, 2014 SGMM
- July 30, 2014 SGMM

5) Matters arising (90 minutes)
- Bargaining Team report-back (10 minutes)
Please see Bylaws Article 17 (4) (b): “The Bargaining Team, with the support of the Executive, shall have ongoing and wide consultation processes with the membership to support its work. To that end, the Bargaining Team shall give report-backs to the membership at all General Membership meetings.”
- Notice of donation requests (10 minutes)
- Bylaw amendments (30 minutes) – See Appendix A
- York University All Pensions Group Memorandum of Understanding (20 minutes)
- Elections for CUPE Trial Committee (20 minutes) – See Appendix B (CUPE Trial: How does it work?)

6) Treasurer’s report and approving expenditures (10 minutes)

7) Correspondence (5 minutes)

8) Executive Committee report(s) (15 minutes)

9) Reports of committees and delegates (15 minutes)

10) Nominations, Elections, or Oath of Office (25 minutes)
- Committee elections: Accessibility Committee (1 space); Distribution Committee (3 spaces); Posting Officer (1 position); Delegates to the CUPE National Sector Council Conference (2 spaces)

11) Unfinished business (60 minutes)
- Bylaw amendments – See Appendix C
- Donation request for Honduran labour and social movement activist Bertha Oliva
- Donation request for memorial commemorating Professor Emeritus Lee Lorch
- Donation request for translation of text about the 2012 Quebec student strike

12) New business

13) Good of the union

14) Adjournment

* Please note that this is only a tentative agenda. It may be slightly amended/updated by the Executive Committee in the days before the GMM.

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.

Bargaining update #1

TA_Direct Action_Power Shift

CUPE 3903 is now engaged in bargaining a new Collective Agreement with the employer. Our current Collective Agreement expires on August 31, 2014, but we will continue to operate under the current Collective Agreement until a new one is negotiated. The Bargaining Team has so far had one introductory meeting with the employer – mainly to request information from the employer.

In addition, there have been two Special General Membership Meetings (SGMMs): one on July 11 and another on July 30. At the July 11 SGMM, members approved the bargaining parameters for the Bargaining Team and the membership, along with the first round of bargaining proposals. At the July 30 SGMM, members approved another round of bargaining proposals, but more remain to be discussed.

The Bargaining Team has organized proposals under four separate categories, each including all three Units of the local: 1) Wages & Benefits; 2) Tuition & Funding; 3) Job Security & Workload; and 4) Equity & Transparency.

A special page on the CUPE 3903 website (or a separate website) will soon be set up to provide timely bargaining updates to members. Bargaining updates will also be circulated to members by email.

The details of all upcoming Bargaining Team meetings will be included in the weekly CUPE 3903 Newsletter.

To subscribe to the CUPE 3903 Newsletter, please follow the links at

For more information, please email

Union win on Gender Identity and Gender Expression


In the 2013/14 academic year, Trans-identified members of CUPE 3903 not only self-organized into what is now the union’s official Trans Caucus, but also led a union-based advocacy and organizing effort to implement significant Gender Identity- and Gender Expression-related practice changes at York University. This activity arose from a host of issues, one of them being York’s failure to implement non-discriminatory processes for Trans-identified union members and students to process a name and/or gender-identity change, whether these were formal legal ones, or were simply those chosen/preferred.

After members of what was to become the Trans Caucus held meetings with various York bodies in attempts to address and resolve the Gender Identity-based discrimination they were experiencing – which is illegal under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the CUPE 3903 Collective Agreements – they contacted the union’s Equity Officer. Months of strategic organizing ensued, using a combination of the grievance/arbitration process, building on relationships with allies within the union, bringing in allies external to the union (such as Egale) and finally meetings of the Chief Stewards to shepherd the process to what is now (almost!) its final resolution just before the start of the 2014/15.

The timing of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s unveiling of the new Policy on Gender Identity and Gender Expression was taken into account as part of the process. The results are many: a new form designed by the union, with explicit input and direction from the Trans Caucus; a new, clear procedure for implementing the changes requested on the form; orientation of York staff to this process; an upcoming public communication by York on the ground broken with this new procedure; and a slightly more healthy Trans Fund at the end of the 2013/14 year.

The overall lesson? Self-organizing plus active and broad ally-based support, along with creative politicization of the grievance/arbitration process, leads to meaningful union wins!