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 five 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 two 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.

PDF (and other) Cheques

Good evening everyone.

PDF cheques are now ready but will be held in the office until we know for certain when they will be delivered.

I understand that many of our members are in dire need of this funding, so if you do not want to wait until the labour dispute between CUPW and Canada Post is resolved please come pick it up at our office (134 Atkinson) between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

For updates on the ongoing labour dispute, please check http://www.cupw.ca/

Thank you, and solidarity with our comrades at CUPW!

Strike to Win,
Graeme Reniers
Sec-Treasurer

Nominate Yourself for Grievance Officer!

The position of Grievance Officer on the executive committee is currently vacant. Considering both the absence of the membership and the number of grievances that are handled in the summer, the executive committee decided to pro-tem a member to this position. The pro-temming will take place at the Wednesday July 20 Executive Committee Meeting. This is a temporary solution; in consultation with the Elections Officers, a by-election will be held at the end of the summer.

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 recsec.cupe3903@gmail.com by 5pm on July 19. You may provide a statement of up to 300 words, and/or attend the executive meeting at which the vote will take place to motivate the nomination. This position is open to all members in good standing, of any unit. Members interested in the position are invited to read the job description available in the bylaws (p. 14).

Executive Committee Vacancy: Grievance Officer

Sonja Killoran-McKibbin has resigned from the position of Grievance Officer due to an employment opportunity. Congratulations and best of luck to Sonja!

Due to the absence of large parts of the membership and the lack of general membership meetings during the summer months, this vacancy will likely be filled on a pro tem basis until September, following article 14.V.(b) of the bylaws. The executive committee has convened an emergency meeting on Monday July 4 to confirm this. Updated information on how to nominate yourself for this vacancy will be posted as soon as possible.

Until the vacancy is filled, please direct grievance-related matters to Jen Cypher, Chairperson (cupe3903chairperson@gmail.com).

Unit 4 Bargaining Update #10

On Friday, June 24, the bargaining team met with the employer to continue bargaining Unit 4’s (part-time librarians and archivists) first collective agreement.

The employer discussed the CUPE 3903 Academic Freedom article in regard to existing guidelines for University e-mail.  Subsequently, our Article regarding Academic Freedom was agreed upon.

The Employer also offered a proposal for the article regarding Formal Evaluation.  It was noted that our contract heretofore did not include an Informal Evaluation article. It was agreed that this article should be added to the contract by both sides.  After some discussion, CUPE representatives and Unit 4 members countered with slightly modified articles for the Informal and Formal Evaluation process.  These were agreed upon.

We are now closing in on the substantive articles of our Collective Agreement: Roles and Responsibilities, Postings, and Compensation.

At present, no bargaining dates are scheduled.  We will soon receive proposed dates from the Department of Faculty Relations.  Watch for these dates on the Unit 4 page.