The Bargaining Team (BT) as well as a number of rank-and-file members met with the Employer on Tuesday, October 21 to continue negotiations around the Union’s Equity and Transparency bargaining proposals.
In response to York’s contest, in which students submit their vision for a better university, rank-and-file members in attendance took the opportunity to present to the Employer the Union‘s vision – one that includes free tuition, living wages and job security for Contract Faculty members. The Union has a number of proposals related to tuition and job security – including a full tuition rebate – and will be negotiating these in the coming weeks. The BT hopes to begin talks around tuition and funding on Tuesday, October 28.
Over the past number of weeks, the Union has been pushing the Employer on a number of Equity and Transparency-related proposals. Although the Employer has tabled a small number of counter-proposals, at today’s meeting they offered a more comprehensive response. While refusing to offer anything in writing, they nonetheless made it clear that they were ‘disinclined’ to move on the majority of these proposals.
One of these proposals would have the university recognize LGBTQ as an employment equity-seeking group. Currently, the university recognizes women, people with disabilities, and racialized and Aboriginal persons as employment equity-seeking groups. Although the Union has been pushing the university to recognize LGBTQ as an additional equity-seeking group, the Employer remains staunchly opposed to the idea. And while the Employer did express its willingness to include LGBTQ as a category on the university’s self-identification surveys, data collection along these lines would seem an empty gesture unless accompanied by some commitment to use that information for the purposes of creating a more equitable workplace. So while the university has stated time and again its commitment to ‘diversity and inclusiveness,’ according to them, employment equity is not the ‘vehicle’ to this end!
As the Employer remains ‘disinclined’ on the majority of the Union’s Equity and Transparency proposals, the BT will be starting to shift gears next week into negotiations around tuition and funding issues. This will be an important phase of our negotiations. In September of last year, the Employer issued an across-the-board tuition hike for international students, in the process attacking our longstanding tuition protection clause. So making gains on the tuition front will be especially important this round. But to do this requires a committed and mobilized membership, willing to make their voices heard, both at the bargaining table and elsewhere.