Nominations Open for the Bargaining Team (Units 1, 2 & 3)

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Nominations for the Bargaining Team (Units 1, 2 & 3) open at noon on January 31. Nominations will be accepted until February 13. Two weeks of campaigning will follow the nomination period. Voting (through Simply Voting) will begin at the February 28 General Membership Meeting and will continue for five days. 

The bargaining team is composed of three members each for Units 1, 2, and 3. Our contracts expire on August 31, 2023 and it is important to get the bargaining team elected early so that they can be active participants in the development of bargaining proposals. Candidates for bargaining team positions must be members in good standing of that unit.

Wondering what being on the Bargaining Team is like and why you should run? You can read about being on the BT from someone who has served twice here.

Nominations

Candidates must fill out a nomination form. You will also need to have the support of two members in good standing. For unit-specific positions, the supporters must be from the voting unit.

If you have questions about the upcoming election, please contact the Elections Officers at: cupe3903eo@gmail.com

Teaching Development Fund Deadline Extended & New Form

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The deadline for the Teaching Development Fund has been extended to March 1, 2023. In order to apply, follow the directions in the updated TDF application form (Word version here). Application documents must be submitted using the MACH form linked in the form. References should be sent to teaching@yorku.ca.

The Teaching Development Fund assists Unit 2 members in the development of a new program of study, new courses and teaching materials, or teaching skills. There are five minor teaching development grants of $3,000, as well as two major grants equivalent to one course directorship. Only contract faculty who have held at least one Type 1 or equivalent position in each of the two years prior to the start of this contract year will be eligible for the major grants. The TDF is adjudicated jointly by CUPE 3903 and the Teaching Commons.

Conversion Memo for Unit 2 Members in the Conversions Pool

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The 2020-2023 CUPE 3903 Unit 2 Collective Agreement Article 23.04 stipulates that the Office of the Provost & Vice-President Academic shall make at least two recommendations of Affirmative Action Pool members for full-time faculty positions in the probationary tenure- stream in the 2022-23 contract year with a July 1, 2023 start date. These recommendations will be for full-time faculty positions to the professorial or teaching stream. Please note that per Article 23.03.4 in all cases, candidates will identify the stream (teaching, professorial or both) to which they are applying, and Units will identify the stream(s) they are recommending. Please find all the necessary requirements in the memo attached below and the tentative schedule has been set so that hiring units and individuals be provided the maximum amount of time to prepare files

2022-2023 CUPE 3903 Conversion Memo

1% Wage Cap Bill Ruled Unconstitutional in Victory for Labour Movement

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On Tuesday, November 29th, the Superior Court of Ontario struck down Bill 124, declaring it unconstitutional. This is a significant victory for the labour movement and the right to collective bargaining, and could have effects on the CUPE 3903 collective agreements. 

What is Bill 124?

Bill 124, the euphemistically named Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, is a provincial legislation passed in June 2019. The purpose of the legislation was to cap compensation increases for all public sector workers at 1% per year for a moderation period of three years. The compensation caps not only includes wages but anything that can be counted as part of compensation, including benefits, funds, paid time off, etc.  More than just limiting compensation, this bill was introduced by the Ford government as a bad faith attempt to curtail our Charter rights to bargain collectively and to strike, instead of negotiating with unions.

For CUPE 3903, the collective agreements for 2020-2023 for Units 1, 2, and 3 and for 2021-2024 for Unit 4 were subject to the legislation. Those rounds of bargaining were characterised by the employer trying to claim as many things as possible as compensation in order to reduce the gains possible in collective bargaining. Our experience is very much replicated across the public sector, as workers of all kinds struggled to make meaningful gains – or even break even – in a bargaining context where the maximum increase was well below inflation.    

The Superior Court Ruling

Several unions challenged the constitutionality of this law, stating that it violated the rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada has held several times that the right to collective bargaining, including the right to strike, is a protected form of freedom of association. The unions contesting the Bill argued that such substantial interference with bargaining amounts to a violation of that right. 

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice agreed and declared the legislation “to be void and of no effect”.

The essence of the ruling is that 

  1. a) wage cap legislation such as Bill 124 does substantially interfere with the protected right to collective bargaining, 
  2. b) while such interference could be justified for a good enough reason, the government of Ontario failed to demonstrate a financial crisis that would justify this move, also mentioning that billions of dollars in tax cuts were put into effect at the same time, 
  3. c) some of the workplaces impacted by the bill are not rationally connected with the objectives of the bill, i.e. reducing government spending, since the government does not directly pay wages. The energy and university sectors specifically are mentioned as sectors where government spending is not tied to wages, and 
  4. d) the government did not show that there were not other measures they could take to reduce government spending that would not require violating a protected Charter right. 

Overall, it is an excellent decision which astutely draws out the implications of Bill 124 on the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike. The Ford government – which all but admitted the bill was designed to do an end-run around those rights – has announced they intend to appeal. 

What This Means for CUPE 3903

All four collective agreements included a wage reopener clause that would allow us to renegotiate wages in the event of a successful challenge to the legislation. However, given the government’s stated intention to appeal, it is unclear if and when we will be able to take advantage of this clause. The text of the clause reads:

The Parties hereby understand and agree that in the event that the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 (“Bill 124”) is repealed, or successfully challenged through the courts such that it is of no force and effect and is not the subject of any ongoing appeal, during the term of the renewal collective agreement (i.e. at any point prior to August 31, 2023 [2024 for Unit 4]), the parties agree to re-negotiate the portions of those salary and compensation provisions of this collective agreement that were limited by Bill 124, but only to the extent permitted by law and having regard to the Employer’s financial position.

This Letter of Understanding will expire on August 31, 2023 [2024 for Unit 4].

If the appeal is dropped or denied before the wage reopener clause expires, the union will pursue this option to its fullest. In the event that the CAs expire before a resolution is reached, we intend to take the position that compensation in the next round of bargaining ought to take into account that the employer benefitted from a violation of our basic constitutional rights to keep our wage increases to a level that was well below inflation even before the current cost of living crisis began. 

Even though what happens next is still to be determined, this decision is a win for the right to collective bargaining. Combined with the way unions worked together towards a general strike to force the government to repeal legislation making the education workers’ strike illegal, there is a message here for the labour movement: no matter what happens, let’s not back down. Collective bargaining and the right to strike are rights that we must protect at any cost.

To read the official decision from the Ontario Court of Justice, see the link below:

Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association et al. v. His Majesty the King in Right of Ontario 2022

TFAC Skills workshop: Learn how to take minutes! January 31st 12PM-2PM

 

Come join us for the January TFAC meeting! At this meeting we will have a workshop on minute taking and discuss how the month of January went for TFAC. Click here to join the meeting!
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.

Come out to Elect our Elections Officers: Attend the General Membership Meeting – January 20th (3–6pm)

We are hosting a General Membership Meeting via Zoom on January 29th from 3pm to 6pm! All members are encouraged to attend.

We have seven donations on the agenda to support publications that cover issues related to workers’ rights and activist movements, including The Hoser, Midnight Sun, and THE GRIND. Independent Jewish Voices, the Iranian Graduate Students’ Association, and the Palestinian Youth Movement are also seeking donations to do important work.

We’ll be electing our Elections Officers – an important position that oversees the elections of our Bargaining Team (which is happening this February) and the Executive Committee (happening this March). Without our Elections Officers, these posts cannot be filled.

We’ll also be discussing upcoming conferences members may want to attend, including CUPE’s women’s conference, and we’ll be voting on bylaw amendments related to the removal of departmental stewards and committee members.

Please register in advance for this meeting here.

In order to register, you will need to provide your employee number, which will be kept confidential. Your employee number is on your monthly pay stub. If you don’t know your employee number, please click here for instructions.

Keep reading for the tentative agenda, accessibility information and more.

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Call for Nominations for Elections Officers (EOs)

We are calling on all members in good standing to run as Election Officers. Nominations for TWO Elections Officers will be accepted until January 19th, 2023. 

An EO election, if there are more than 2 nominees, will be held via a secret ballot which will take place in our GMM ( register here) that has been scheduled on January 20th, 2023  and will continue for five days over Simply Voting.

Election Officers (2 vacancies)

The role of the Chief Electoral Officers will be to organise the elections as per the bylaws. Most of the work is around the annual election that occurs between late January and early March, but they are also responsible for any by-elections that may be held during the year. The work includes accepting the nominations, arranging for members to scrutiny, arranging and setting up tables for voting, and alongside the executive, communicating the details of the elections to the membership. While the nature of the work is limited, members interested in this position should expect to commit a significant chunk of time in late February and in early March.

Current members of the executive are ineligible for these positions. Additionally, election officers may not run for executive positions in the election for which they serve. Interested candidates should an email to cupe3903chairperson@gmail.com.

Honorarium: $750 per year per position, plus and additional $150 per by-election.

Letter of Solidarity with CUPE 3906

Dear Dr. Farrar, Dr. Tighe, Dr. Hranilovic, Mr. Van Koughnett, and Ms. Allen;

CUPE locals 2626, 4600, 3913, 3902, 3903, 3904, and 4207 representing over 30,000 contract academic workers such as research assistants, teaching assistants, sessional lecturers, and post-doctoral students at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, York University, Toronto Metropolitan University, and Guelph University stand in solidarity with our comrades at CUPE 3906 at McMaster University who have been on strike since November 21 st after negotiations broke down. Student workers across Ontario have suffered under Bill 124 (which CUPE is currently challenging in court as unconstitutional) and are now further suffering under the weight of record-high inflation (6.9% in Ontario over the last year 1 ) and tuition increases 2 . In Hamilton, the skyrocketing cost of living has placed many McMaster students in untenable conditions 3 . In fact, the living wage in Hamilton has increased by nearly 11% in the last year 4 , yet the salaries of student workers at McMaster have stagnated for the last three years. CUPE 3906’s proposals, consisting of equitable wages, equal pay for equal work (the lowest-wage workers, undergraduates, are making $19 an hour less than graduate student workers), and access to employment opportunities are issues that concern us all. Without equitable salaries, tuition increases represent wage theft, and inflation without cost-of-living adjustments to salaries means decreased buying power and a further descent into poverty. #BetterMac is not just a campaign for one Local, but for the rights of student workers across Ontario. If McMaster is truly committed to creating a brighter world 5 , does this not involve achieving a fair, equitable agreement with some of your most precarious workers? McMaster has reported surpluses totalling nearly 750 million dollars since 2016, yet the salary mass of nearly 1/3 of its workers (i.e., 3906 members) accounts for only 3.7% of the total payroll. These statistics are egregious; it is simply unethical that 3906 members are still not paid a living wage. What message does this send to current and future students? Your student workforce is the backbone of your university, and it is time to show them respect and dignity. As Canada’s most impactful university 6 , U15 universities and beyond look to McMaster for leadership and guidance. The longer this strike continues, the further your intractability becomes clear. We are calling on you to do the right thing and set an example to be followed, rather than one which further deepens the inequities in our precarious society.

CUPE 3906’s comrades stand in solidarity

Support Left-Wing Publishing: Attend the General Membership Meeting – December 13th (1–4pm)

We are hosting a General Membership Meeting via Zoom on December 13th from 1:00pm to 4:00pm! All members are encouraged to attend.

We have five donation notices on the agenda, three of which are to support online and print publications that cover issues related to workers’ rights and activist movements, including The Hoser, Midnight Sun, and THE GRIND.

Members interested in environmental justice and collective bargaining in the post-secondary sector should attend this GMM to learn how they can become a delegate for the union at important upcoming conferences related to these issues.

Please register in advance for this meeting here.

In order to register, you will need to provide your employee number, which will be kept confidential. Your employee number is on your monthly pay stub. If you don’t know your employee number, please click here for instructions.

Keep reading for the tentative agenda, accessibility information and more. Continue reading