Arbitration Award Shows the Need to Defend Free Collective Bargaining

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On Monday, December 3, the arbitrator James Hayes provided his award for the Units 1, 2, and 3 collective agreements. These awards confirm what we at CUPE 3903 have said from the start: arbitration is not a valid way forward to resolve complex disputes. Arbitration, by Hayes’ admission, is a blunt instrument that knowingly simplifies difficult and complicated issues to arrive at limited solutions. While the government claimed to be acting in the best interests of students, it is clear from this that legislation that trampling on the rights of workers to impose half-measures that paper over problem is not in the best interests of anyone but the powerful and privileged.  

This result is a demonstration of a continued trend of attacks on unions by both the government and employers. York refused to bargain in the hopes that the government would bail them out of that responsibility, and they have been rewarded. Meanwhile, it is the workers who suffer from this alliance.

Rather than working with the union in an effort to reach an agreement that both sides could live with, the employer chose to bargain in the media, with misleading language designed to polarize the York community and the public. We should not misunderstand their intentions: the use of the Code of Student of Rights and Responsibilities to punish members and undergrads for peaceful protest is yet another example of their aggressive attitude which left the entire York community reeling for a record-breaking 143 days.  

That the government did bail out the employer from its duty to bargain is not something to be celebrated, as this outcome demonstrates. The issue here is not that the union did not get everything it was asking for — after all, that is what can reasonably be expected from even a freely bargained settlement. The problem is that this settlement does nothing to alleviate the situation of precarity at York University and contains rulings that fail to consider the challenges they present to free collective bargaining. A negotiated settlement would have avoided these pitfalls.

The climate of precarity in academia is very real. In fact, Hayes himself states in his ruling that “York is only one university among many others that depends heavily upon contract faculty for the delivery of undergraduate teaching.”  By imposing concessions through arbitration, all this ruling has achieved is to deepen the existing crisis and further entrench these antagonisms. We need a sustainable solution and this process has done nothing to work towards one.

While this is the close of one of the hardest chapters of York’s history, it is not the end of the story. We continue to fight for good stable jobs and against the precarity espoused by both the York administration and the government. Members of CUPE 3903 gave everything they had to hold firm for themselves and their colleagues, and a better future for York University as a whole. This matters as we move forward into the next chapter of this struggle.   

To read the awards for all units, check below.

York University Unit 1 Award dated December 3, 2018

York University Unit 2 Award dated December 3, 2018

York University Unit 3 Award dated December 3, 2018

Levy Update

The Employer has informed the Executive Committee that Payroll, Human Resources was unable to enact the January 2019 portion of the membership-approved levy due to time-frame constraints and existing backlogs related to the close of monthly payroll. The Employer presented the Executive Committee with two options: (1) shift levy from January through April 2019 to February through May 2019 or (2) increase the levy amount from 1% to 1.33% for February through April 2019.

Per the specific language approved by the membership at the January GMM and subsequently by the National President’s Office that limited the levy to January through April 2019 and to 1%, the Executive Committee informed the Employer that the levy should thus remain at the rate of 1% and will be limited to the on-cycle, regular gross wages of the February through April 2019 pay cheques.

Results of Levy Vote

The results of the levy vote held at the GMM on January 8th are:

85 in favour

50 opposed

1 abstention

The levy has therefore been passed. As per the motion, a 1% levy will be applied to the gross (on-cycle) wages of the January, February, March, and April 2019 pay cheques of all members.

January GMM: Tentative Agenda (January 8, 2019)

January 2019 General Membership Meeting
Tuesday January 8, 2019
1pm-4pm
Atkinson 109 (Harry Crowe Room)

Tentative Agenda: 

  1. Roll call of officers (2 mins)
  2. Reading of the Equality Statement (3 mins)
  3. Reading of the Mississauga Land Acknowledgement (2 mins)
  4. Approval of Agenda (5 mins)
  5. Notices (3 mins)
    1. Bylaw amendment: In-camera procedure
    2. Donation request: York Affordable Housing Committee ($1000)
  6. Treasurer’s Report (60 mins)
    1. Discussion: Levies
    2. Opening the levy vote (please note that the voting will not start until the discussion is concluded)
  7. Unfinished Business (45 mins)
    1. Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) by-election
    2. Bylaw-amendment: Bilingualism Committee
    3. Motion to destroy the ballots from the invalid levy vote
    4. Motion to destroy the ballots from the vote on the bylaw Amendment: Article 23.b (Voting of Funds)
    5. Motion to destroy the ballots from the vote on the bylaw Amendment: Amendment to Appendix F
    6. Motion to destroy the ballots from the vote on the bylaw Amendment: Article 17.2.f (The Election of the Bargaining Teams)
    7. Donation to No One Is Illegal ($350)
  8. Matters Arising (30 mins)
    1. Discussion: Binding arbitration results and next steps
  9. Executive Report-backs (15 mins)
    1. Update on the follow-up from the December GMM
  10. Reading and Approval of minutes (15 mins)
    1. February 2018 GMM minutes
    2. September 2018 GMM minutes
    3. October 2018 GMM minutes
    4. November 2018 GMM minutes
    5. December 2018 GMM minutes
  11. New Business (15 mins)
    1. Endorsement request: York Affordable Housing Committee
  12. Reports of committees and delegates (15 mins)
    1. Trustees’ Report (2017-18 Fiscal Year)
  13. Adjournment

Please contact Sheila Wilmot at cupe3903.equity.officer@gmail.com 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.

Levy Vote

The CUPE 3903 Executive Committee is suggesting a small levy in order to balance the budget. Why a levy now?

  1. York is forcing grievances into arbitration

The grievance process is designed to give the parties a chance to discuss and potentially agree where there are conflicts in hiring, application of the collective agreement, etc. This is why there are four steps in the grievance process. York is now refusing to settle grievances – including open and shut cases – through the grievance process.

  1. Grievances continue to increase, especially because of York’s poor handling of remediation

Because of York’s refusal to go through the grievance process, all cases that we want to pursue need to be sent to arbitration. Arbitration means that that the union needs to pay half of the cost of the room and the arbitrator. York is clearly hoping that we won’t be able to afford to send even simple grievances to arbitration. This is especially serious because of the high volume of remediation grievances following the inconsistent and arbitrary way in which departments went about remediation.

  1. The local needs funds to pay staff and other professionals to represent you

In order to file grievances and pursue them in arbitration, we need to be able to pay staff salaries, including benefits and pension contributions. Lawyers and other legal professionals also need to be paid for arbitration and legal opinions.

Combined with continued compressions to the budget, a small levy helps ensure that YOUR job remains safe. 

When would the 1% Levy apply?

  • On-cycle paycheques from January 2019 to April 2019

What will a 1% Levy over 4 months allow for?

  • Remove budgetary deficit brought on by depreciated dues amounts within the current fiscal year
  • Pay off outstanding and forthcoming legal bills
    • Since 31 October 2018, the Local has received over $170k in legal invoices
    • In the month of December 2018 alone, a month abridged due to the holiday season, the Local received $51k in legal invoices
    • This volume is only expected to continue due to expected bills related to arbitration, ongoing and future grievances, CSRR, etc.
  • Allow the Local to pursue further grievances via mediated arbitration, as York refuses to respect the traditional grievance process
  • Allow the Local to continue to support and defend our members when unjustly attacked by the Employer
  • Ensure a stable cashflow throughout the summer months, since the bulk of the local’s budget comes from Fall/Winter dues
  • Ensure the Local lives up to our monetary obligations to our staff as per the CUPE 3903/CUPE 1281 CA
  • Allow the Local to continue to monetarily support social and political causes as per our commitment to Social Unionism
  • Wards off the necessity of crippling spending freezes, severe cuts, and loan repayments as was necessary in past years when supplementary income was not secured

When is the Levy vote?

  • The vote on whether to implement the proposed levy will take place at the GMM on January 8th, 2019, in the Harry Crowe room, 109 Atkinson starting at 1pm.

*Please note that voting on the levy cannot begin until discussion on this agenda item has closed and the motion is finalised. While this item will be placed at the top of the agenda to facilitate the opening of the ballot as soon as possible, this is dependent on the agenda order being approved at the meeting, and on the length of time the membership wishes to discuss the proposed motion*

December Remediation and Retroactive Pay Update for Unit 2 Members

Despite numerous attempts since September to get clear information from the York Administration, including the Faculty Relations Office, on the process and criteria for determining remediation pay for our members, we have yet to receive any clear guidelines or instructions.

Just this week, we received information that York’s payroll department has decided that the last remediation payments will be made on the January 25, 2019, payroll date. This is troubling, given that the deadline for students with deferred standing to complete outstanding coursework is Dec. 21, 2018. Thus many of our members will likely still be doing remediation work in January. We have contacted Faculty Relations about this matter. Continue reading

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Image description:
The CUPE 3903 star logo is on the top left. Underneath that is the United Nations IDPD logo, which is a four-colour graphic of hands circling around a dot in the center as if holding or hugging. Underneath that and also to the right is text.
Image text:
International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December.
In recognition of IDPD, CUPE 3903 celebrates our disabled members and the contributions they make to our union and our workplace. People with disabilities have been, and continue to be, agents of change both in the university and within our local.
An intersectional disability justice agenda asserts the inherent value of all people and all lives, regardless of ability to maintain paid employment.
As a labour union, CUPE 3903 recognizes the barriers to employment that people with disabilities face and we affirm our interdependence and our responsibilities to each other.
CUPE 3903 reaffirms our commitment to challenging ableism and making our union, our workplaces, and our communities more accessible.

Vacancy on Joint Health and Safety Committee

A vacancy has opened up on the Joint Health and Safety Committee. Any members interested in sitting on the Committee can nominate themselves by emailing Stacey at cupe3903vpu1@gmail.com by the end of the day December 4th (apologies, please note the information in the newsletter gave the day incorrectly as November 4th). If necessary a by-election will take place at the December 6th GMM.

Results of bylaw amendment votes from Nov 23rd GMM

At the GMM on November 23rd, two bylaw amendments were voted on: Bylaw 23.b (Voting of Funds), to make the bylaw consistent with Appendix G; and Appendix F (Listserv and Posting Guidelines) to include additional forms of electronic communication. The results are as follows:

Bylaw 23.b – Passed

Yes: 30

No: 5

Abstentions: 0

Appendix F – Passed

Yes: 28

No: 1

Abstentions: 0