Bargaining update #4

CUPE 3903 members march through the Student Centre on their way to the September 26 bargaining meeting with the Employer. (photo credit: Bob Hanke)

CUPE 3903 members march through the Student Centre on their way to the September 26 bargaining meeting with the Employer. (photo credit: Bob Hanke)

Items in this update: 

  • Bargaining news
  • Mobilization news
  • Upcoming meetings
  • Communications update

Bargaining news

In September of last year, our Employer attacked our 14 years-strong tuition protections. Contract Faculty are forced to re-apply for their jobs every eight months. Graduate students’ funding can barely cover bills. Protections for equity-seeking groups are inadequate. And York has been very slow over the last three years in implementing improvements that were agreed to in 2011. In this round of bargaining, our local seeks to address these issues and more.

On September 26, CUPE 3903’s Bargaining Team (BT) handed a full bargaining proposal package to our Employer. To kick off negotiations, the BT decided to focus on several equity-oriented proposals that would improve hiring practices at York University. These include:

  • Asking for clearer hiring practices for Course Directorships (CDs) done by graduate students
  • Adding LGBTQ persons to the list of recognized equity-seeking groups hired by the university
  • Ensuring that acceptance letters sent to incoming graduate students clearly inform those students about the protections afforded to them as potential members of 3903
  • Giving members of equity-seeking groups greater flexibility with course scheduling
  • Ensuring that Toronto’s census data (in all its particularities) is used in equity-related hiring

The bargaining meeting on September 30 was the Employer’s first opportunity to respond to these modest proposals. While not outright rejecting any of them, the Employer repeated several times that it wasn’t convinced that the issues presented were of concern to CUPE 3903 members.

Surveys, numerous consultations with members, and countless hours of work by our staff representing members over the past three years have shown that these issues are indeed concerns for members:

  • Hiring practices for graduate student CDs are completely different in each department of the university; they rarely, if ever, include substantial references to qualifications (what in labour lingo is called “Bona-fide Occupational Requirements”); these hires are not made known to all students; and they often have no clear adjudication process
  • While the Employer is “not persuaded the GTA is the right universe of potential candidates” to consider when looking at equity demographics, our Collective Agreements (CAs), signed by the Employer, already include reference to the equity data from the GTA (Article 5.03 of all three agreements)
  • Because the Employer does not inform members about their membership in CUPE 3903, and not all students are fully oriented to their new environment, many members express surprise when they finally learn they are protected by a labour union (and are often happy to learn they are)
  • CUPE 3903 members work all over Ontario, and have pointed out that other universities already include LGBTQ in their hiring considerations
  • As any Contract Faculty member can tell you, having kids and cobbling together a living at several universities make scheduling a nightmare

As our 2011 round of bargaining demonstrated, our Employer tends to be “disinclined” to make movement on our proposals until we show how serious we are about achieving real movement at the bargaining table. Only in making your voice heard will our Employer respect our demands.

Mobilization news

“About 30 CUPE 3903 members mobilized for the latest bargaining meeting with the employer, including rank-and-file members, members of the Bargaining Team, members of the Executive Committee, and staff. In fact, the turnout by CUPE 3903 members was so large that the meeting had to be moved to a bigger room….”

Read the full report here.

Upcoming meetings

All bargaining meetings with the Employer are open to CUPE 3903 members, and details of the meetings are posted regularly on the website. Visit Events for more information.

All Bargaining Team meetings are also open to CUPE 3903 members. Visit Events for more information.

General Membership Meetings (GMMs) are held once a month, and are the highest decision-making bodies of CUPE 3903. All CUPE 3903 members are encouraged to attend and participate in GMMs. The next GMM will take place on Wednesday, October 22 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in 205 Accolade West Building (ACW). Join and share on Facebook.

The Bargaining Mobilization Committee (BMC) is a space where you can help organize actions, departmental consultations, and other events that engage and mobilize CUPE 3903 members. At this stage in bargaining, BMC meetings take place once a week. Visit Events for more information.

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

All bargaining-related news continues to be added to the bargaining section on the CUPE 3903 website, and emailed to members in the weekly CUPE 3903 Newsletter. To subscribe to the CUPE 3903 Newsletter, please follow these links.

The Communications Committee and the Bargaining Mobilization Committee are also developing a dedicated website on bargaining that will be accessible to both CUPE 3903 members and allies. Stay tuned for more details.

For more information about bargaining, please email

To get involved in the Bargaining Mobilization Committee, please email