Bargaining update #6

A silhouette of raised hands and placards against the sun

A silhouette of raised hands and placards against the sun


Items in this update: 

  • Bargaining news
  • Upcoming meetings
  • Communications update

Bargaining news

Our current Collective Agreements (CAs) expired on August 31, 2014, three years after they took effect. During that time, CUPE 3903 didn’t rest on its laurels, waiting for the next round of bargaining to begin. This is because the CAs are not just pieces of paper, but documents that govern the day-to-day activity of CUPE 3903 members as they go about teaching and learning at York. As many of us know, the Employer isn’t always very good at keeping to what they’ve agreed to, and so in between rounds of bargaining we have to attend many meetings, file many grievances, and organize many actions.

The question of employment equity is no exception: year-round, CUPE 3903 members sit on a committee with the Employer as a way to try to get issues of inequity at the university discussed and solved. This involves pressing new issues as they arise, and pushing the Employer to meet the commitments that it made in 2011, the last round of bargaining. Some issues have begun to be addressed. There has been more monitoring to ensure increased attendance at equity training for administrators, the self-ID equity survey has been made more accessible, and Graduate Assistants have been assigned to help improve the analysis of the equity data that has been collected. However, there is much that needs to be improved.

At the bargaining meeting on October 7, the Bargaining Team (BT) presented several more proposals that aim to improve employment equity at York. While the Employer signaled a willingness to move on certain issues, such as expanding paid training opportunities in line with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and anti-sexual violence education, one of the recommendations of the Metrac audit, it didn’t provide any actual counter-proposals, and declined to agree to elements of the proposals that are very important for CUPE 3903 members: clauses that ensure that Unit 2 hires would be in line with Toronto’s diverse demographics. In other words, we are proposing ways to make departments more diverse. While the Employer has helped gather more data on equity hiring at York, it hasn’t signaled a desire to use this information in a meaningful way. Nor did the Employer appear willing to enhance incumbency provisions for equity-seeking groups. The Employer also remains adamantly opposed to recognizing LGBTQ as an employment equity group at York.

Bargaining is a chance to make the Employer move faster on issues that we know are important to resolve. In between rounds of bargaining, there is little to compel the Employer to do anything more than the bare minimum. The bargaining process is different because we can make the Employer sign on to new commitments, ones they might not otherwise contemplate. This is because we can demonstrate our resolve by refusing to allow things to continue as they have: only during bargaining can we threaten to withdraw our labour. Taking strike action is not always necessary, nor is it something to be considered lightly. But only when the Employer sees that a solid majority of the Union’s members are willing to take such action can we exercise any real leverage at the bargaining table. It is with that leverage that we can win improvements for our members and our students.

At the end of the October 7 meeting, the BT expressed its disappointment at the pace of negotiations. The Employer continues to refuse to provide more than a handful of its own proposals, and has yet to come to the table with even a single concrete counter-proposal. As a result, the CUPE 3903 BT cancelled its Friday meeting with the Employer to give its bargaining team more time to prepare concrete counter-proposals to what we have proposed.

For three years, we have sat across various tables with the Employer, trying to solve problems that we see at the university. Some issues have been resolved, but many remain. The bargaining table is the place where we will finally see substantial movement, but only if members keep up the pressure.

Upcoming meetings

The next bargaining meeting with the Employer will take place on Tuesday, October 14 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in S752 Ross Building. A pre-meeting on open bargaining will take place beforehand at 2:00 p.m. in the CUPE 3903 office, 143 Atkinson Building. 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.

The next Bargaining Team meeting will take place on Friday, October 10 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the CUPE 3903 office, 143 Atkinson Building. All Bargaining Team meetings are also open to CUPE 3903 members. Visit Events for more information.

The next General Membership Meeting (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. 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 Bargaining Mobilization Committee Meeting (BMC) will take place on Thursday, October 16 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil Street, in downtown Toronto (map). The following BMC meeting will take place on Thursday, October 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the CUPE 3903 office, 143 Atkinson Building. The 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. Bargaining updates will also now be emailed to members as stand-alone updates as soon as they are produced. 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