Statement by CUPE 3903 and YUGSA on the BoG’s Reappointment of Rhonda Lenton

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The York Board of Governors (BoG) held a closed meeting on May 4th to secretly vote on the reappointment of Rhonda Lenton as York University’s President. The vote was carried out despite serious concerns voiced by students, staff and faculty about Lenton’s reappointment, and taken without any regard for meaningful consultation within the community.

The BoG, an unelected body composed of individuals who predominantly hail from the corporate sector, continues to remain unaccountable to any official body at York University. An unelected body voted behind closed doors to secretly reappoint the York President. Let. That. Sink. In. The Chair, Paul Tsaparis, a former corporate CEO from Hewlett-Packard, steamrolled the entire process, brazenly defying one of the university’s most cherished practises: democratic procedure. He disallowed debate on such an important matter, and proceeded to announce their handpicked appointee to the flabbergasted attendees. Professing several times to have carried out community consultations, yet unable to substantiate where and how, he lauded Lenton’s exemplary work on equity issues before declaring the reappointment. Yet, when the expected challenges to this antidemocratic proceeding started to roll in, the host immediately closed off the Zoom chat. It was obvious that their hurried move anticipated many challenges, and debate was swiftly shut down to avert any scrutiny of the consultative process or Tsaparis’ incredible declaratives. Shutting down the democratic process means that the current BoG deems itself to be above all accountability to the York community, who they claim to value.

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Media Release – Amidst Anti-Black Racism Scandal, York University’s Board of Governors Re-appoints Rhonda Lenton

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The following media release was issued by the York University Graduate Students’ Association to inform the York community about the anti-democratic reinstatement of Rhonda Lenton. What is the legitimacy of the Board of Governors? We will need to hold this obsolete institution, an atrophied relic of British imperial rule, to account.

Amidst anti-Black racism scandal, York U Board of Governors re-appoints President Lenton

TORONTO (May 5, 2021) – York University’s Board of Governors voted on May 4 to re-appoint President Rhonda Lenton for another five-year term, despite a growing scandal involving systemic anti-Black racism at the highest levels of the institution.

Weeks before the vote, Board members received hundreds of email messages and phone calls regarding President Lenton’s handling of a long-standing complaint by Dr. Aimé Avolonto, a Black professor of French Studies at York’s Glendon College, whose allegations of anti-Black racism were profiled in The Fifth Estate documentary “Black on campus” on February 25 and during a press conference on April 8. Prof. Avolonto has detailed his allegations in a public document, “Letter from a Black colleague.”

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Call for Nominations – Elections Officers and Various Committees – Deadline May 31st

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Nominations for two Elections Officers have been reopened. These positions will be acclaimed or elected at the May 31st General Membership Meeting (GMM).

The committees listed below also still have vacancies following the April GMM and nominations have again reopened. Interested members should email VP Unit 1, Chris Little to nominate themselves by 5pm on Sunday May 23rd. More information on committee responsibilities can be found on the Committees page, or by emailing Chris. Any position with more nominations than vacancies will proceed to an election at the May 31st GMM.

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Meet n’ Greet our New Staff Representative!

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3903 cordially welcomes our new staff representative, Julian Arend! Julian has been a long standing member of 3903 and now joins our local as a staff member. We look forward to working with him! Julian will begin on Monday, May 10th. We thank the Hiring Committee for their work to navigate hiring in the midst of the pandemic.

We will be hosting a Meet n’ Greet for Julian on Thursday, May 13th at 2pm. Feel free to pop in to say hello. The Zoom meeting link is here.

Report Back – Bargaining with the Employer, April 22

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On Thursday, April 22, the Bargaining Team met with the Employer and presented a series of proposals, including the monetary proposals that were passed by our membership at the SGMM on April 16. The Employer also presented a few new proposals.

CUPE 3903 Proposals

The Bargaining Team’s proposals (which can be seen here, dated ‘April 21’) were primarily about adding definite amounts to several funds of which we had previously indicated we would be asking for an increase. The Bargaining Team passed-back a proposal (proposal 28) relating to Unit 1 TA contract deadlines, in which we agreed with the Employer’s request for acceptance deadlines on the condition that the Employer would agree to penalties for late contracts. The Bargaining Team also put forward a response (proposal 53) to the issue of equity hiring for Unit 1 ticketed course directorships, which emphasizes a fair distribution of tickets across the Unit as well as increased hiring targets for equity seeking groups.

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Bargaining Team Responds to Employer on Equity

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On Monday April 26th, the Bargaining Team sent a letter to Dan Bradshaw, Assistant Vice President Labour Relations (and lead negotiator for the Employer), addressing the Employer’s responses to our proposals on employment equity and proposed steps to address systemic inequities at York University. You can read the full letter below.

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Want your own soapbox? CUPE 3903 has a video project for you!

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As CUPE 3903 bargains a new collective agreement, we’re inviting you to share your experience teaching and studying at York. Have you been able to access good teaching and research supports in your department and program of study? Tell us how you’ve managed your academic life this past year surviving the global pandemic. Has the union helped you cope with your financial burdens through its funding programs? Where would you like to see changes and improvements occur? Tell us what’s bubbling up inside and let your voice be heard!

We want to hear what 3903 members have to say, and we’re inviting you to submit a short video essay to showcase on our website and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter & YouTube). You can make it yourself or collaborate with colleagues. Let us know:

i) Why you became an academic and MA/PhD Student
ii) Your account of work and research conditions at York (expectations met and not met)
iii) Any interactions or experiences with the union or its services and supports
iv) What you want to see in the near future

Length: 1–2 min.
Deadline: May 17, 2021
For more information and to submit your video contact: cupe3903comms@gmail.com

Callout – Organizing4Power Training in May/June with Jane McAlevey

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Organizing4Power is holding its fourth training event. This training is FREE. It is hosted by Jane McAlevey, a very experienced union organizer from the US and these online training workshops are run by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Previous training sessions have hosted over 40 countries and tens of thousands of union and community organizers throughout the world who are trying to learn how to build the power they need to win against bosses, landlords, governments etc. The training starts May 18th and consists of a single two (2) hour long training once a week (every Tuesday) for six (6) weeks (May 18th to June 22nd). Here you will learn the basic foundations of Jane McAlevey’s organizing approach. Her approach is important because it relies on rank and file union members organizing together to build a strong high participation union via a bottom-up driven organizing structure. Members are strongly encouraged to attend if they can. The Group Registration Deadline is May 3rd.

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Nominations Open – 6 Delegates for the 29th Constitutional Convention of the Canadian Labour Congress – Deadline May 14th, 2021

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CUPE 3903 is sending 6 delegates to the 29th Constitutional Convention of the Canadian Labour Congress. The virtual convention will be held virtually from Wednesday, June 16 to Friday, June 18, 2021. Here is the agenda.

Any members who wish to nominate themselves can email VP Unit 1, Chris Little. Nominations will close on Friday May 14th.

Nominate yourself for the TFAC Financial Assistance Fund Committee!

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In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and as per a motion passed by the TFAC membership at the January 28th, 2021 meeting, TFAC is establishing a pilot project: TFAC Financial Assistance Fund.

Three committee members are needed to meet twice and distribute the funds. The committee will provide a report for the membership at the end of the adjudication, and receive a $100 honorarium upon completion of their service.

TFAC members can submit their nominations to tfac.cupe3903@gmail.com by May 10th at 5:00 pm EST. If more than three members put their names forward, an election will be held at the next TFAC meeting (last week of May).

York University President and Upper Administration Face Allegations of Anti-Black Racism

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Despite President Rhonda Lenton’s, Provost & VP Academic, Lisa Phillips’, and members of York University’s upper administration’s recent attempts to improve its public relations campaign on anti-Black racism, the university faces serious allegations of a coverup. Their attempts to suppress Professor Aimé Avolonto’s charges of racism in his department has backfired and now become a national scandal, with coverage on the CBC’s National. The professor has written a detailed report of the events that have transpired since making his first complaint in 2017, when he asked for a fair and proper investigation into the situation. It is quite regrettable that Lenton and Phillips, who have taken anti-Black racism pledges in the media, have simultaneously taken aggressive steps to terminate his professorship. Multiple students’ testimonies attest to their admiration, love and respect for Professor Avolonto; he has been teaching at York University since 2004, and was twice elected Chair in his department. It is a treacherous situation when complainants seeking an investigation into racism become instead the very target of racist attacks.

Sign the petition and support Professor Aimé Avolonto’s fight for justice.

On Thursday, April 8th, a press conference was held. Watch the entire press conferenceFind out more about the campaign to support Prof. Avolonto.

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MY EXPERIENCE OF ANTI-BLACK RACISM AT YORK UNIVERSITY – Teaching while Black

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While President Rhonda Lenton and senior administrators, Lisa Phillips and others, claim to be making structural changes with respect to anti-Black racism at York University, they have attempted to fire Professor Aimé Avolonto, who teaches in the Department of French Studies, Glendon College. Professor Avolonto, who is Black and an Associate Professor, originally asked for an investigation into anti-black racism in his department. In 2017, he wrote to then-Provost, Rhonda Lenton. However, the victim of racism, has now become the target of York University’s President and senior administration. They have tried to suppress, deny, ignore and dismiss his claims without a fair or proper investigation, going so far at to attempt to fire him. Read Professor Avolonto’s allegations in his Letter from a Black colleague.

https://www.teachingwhileblack.ca/post/letter-from-a-black-colleague

Discount at Lee Wiggins Childcare Centre for CUPE 3903 Members

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Lee Wiggins Childcare Centre located in the First Student Centre Building at York University, Keele Campus is offering CUPE 3903 members a 50-75% subsidy discount on top of their fees. Full-time fees are already reduced by 25% off until August 31, 2021.

If members enrol with Lee Wiggins Childcare Centre for full-time care, they will receive 25% off the initial price ($1,375 – Preschool, $1,440 – Toddler), with an additional 75% off CUPE 3903 Subsidy. Therefore, preschool fees would be as low as $257.81 per month.

At the end of their fiscal year, any remaining amounts left over from the centre’s CUPE 3903 funding is refunded and distributed to families based on care used.

Members could visit www.yorkuchildcare.ca for up-to-date information.

TFAC Meeting – May 26th (10am–Noon)

Come join us for the May TFAC meeting! At this meeting we will launch our first peer to peer skill sharing workshop, get an update on bargaining, and discuss how to proceed with the TFAC Financial Assistance Fund!

Zoom link https://yorku.zoom.us/j/93142182185?pwd=VVIyVGloQlE3aTI0bTNvdWhwM0pyUT09

Skill sharing workshop: Gizem will be teaching TFAC members how to take minutes at meetings. This is a skill you can take with you in other union, organizing, and activist spaces! All TFAC members who attend the workshop will receive a $15 honorarium! 

Did you know? If you are the minute taker for a TFAC meeting, you will receive a $50 honorarium.

To join the tfac listserv please email the co-chairs at tfac.cupe3903@gmail.com

Mourn the Dead, and Fight for the Living – #10for10 Phone Zap on April 28th at 10:00 AM

Back in January, the members of our union local unanimously voted in favour of a motion demanding that the Ontario government legislate paid sick days for all. We’ve now entered a devastating third wave of this pandemic, and frontline workers still don’t have access to paid sick days in this province as the Conservatives continue to ignore public health advice.

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