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 (BT) 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 BT 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 BT 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 BT 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 (BT) 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