Bargaining update #10

CUPE 3903 members show their support for undergraduate students on October 21, during a rally before bargaining.

CUPE 3903 members show their support for undergraduate students on October 21, during a rally before bargaining.

Items in this update: 

  • Bargaining news
  • Update on Unit 1 Bargaining Team vacancy

Bargaining news

Your CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team (BT) met on November 4 with the Employer, including Barry Miller (Executive Director of Faculty Relations), Rob Lawson (Associate Director of Faculty Relations), Barbara Crowe (Dean of FGS), and Sean Brixey (Dean of Fine Arts). The Employer’s lawyer, John Brooks, was absent this time.

This week, the Employer came back with a response around Unit 1 Course Director (CD) “tickets,” Graduate Assistantships, and summer Teaching Assistantships hiring process. While the Employer presented some “revised language” and a few slight improvements, the BT made it clear that the Employer’s counter still had not solved most of the problems that the BT highlighted last week, including the fact that equity language remains completely absent in the counter. However, and even more problematically, the Employer made it clear at the table this week that its counters around hiring processes were contingent on increasing the number of CD “tickets” for Unit 1. The BT replied with a firm “no,” indicating that these are two separate issues. We again emphasized that CUPE 3903 does not bargain away some members’ jobs in order to give other members basic access to clear, standardized and transparent hiring practices. The two issues have nothing to do with each other.

The Employer’s bargaining team then turned its attention to our Tuition and Funding bargaining proposals. Barry Miller, chief negotiator for the Employer, used what he called a “particular methodology,” which he admitted was more of an art than a science, to arrive at the big numbers he used in order to stress how “costly of our proposals” are. The Employer said a “hard no” to many of the proposals, and a “soft no” to a few of our proposals under the Tuition and Funding theme. Miller argued that there were significant increases in the Graduate Funding Assistance (GFA) in the 2011/12 negotiations, so he was not inclined to make any substantial increases in this round of bargaining.

He did note, however, that it might be possible to look at some improvements around the GFA once the “total compensation envelope” for all our proposals was known, i.e. when we finish presenting all our proposals. The most troubling statement made at the table, though, was when Miller said that, since Unit 3 members do not represent a “multi-year commitment” to the University, the Employer has no interest in increasing basic financial support to Unit 3 members. Given that Toronto is a very expensive city to live in, we’re asking only the minimum for our members to live in dignity.

The Employer’s assumption that Unit 1 and Unit 3 members’ underfunding problems were resolved the last time around is misplaced and wrong. The CUPE 3903 BT explained that past increases (through GFA) were simply folded into and under the minimum guarantee. So members’ overall funding packages did not actually increase. The increases gained in the last round of bargaining were just rolled into the total funding package that the University offers. Hence, the BT is seeking to add language stating that any GFA increases are over and above the current minimum guarantee.

At the end of negotiations on November 4, the BT made it clear to the Employer that our Tuition and Funding bargaining proposals are rooted in the commitment of CUPE 3903 Members to values of fairness, respect and dignity for our members. Unit 1 and Unit 3 members need to have enough financial resources to support themselves and their families, not only during the summer months, but also throughout the academic year.

Hence, the main focus of our proposals under this theme remains:

  • To provide a full tuition rebate for all graduate students, and double the GFA to $1,180
  • To abolish differential tuition fees for international graduate students
  • To raise the Unit 3 minimum guarantee to $15,000
  • To expand the sixth year of minimum guarantee funding

To help achieve these goals, please join the BT at the next bargaining meeting with the Employer, which will take place on Tuesday, November 11 at 2:30 p.m. in 305 York Lanes. An open bargaining pre-meeting will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the CUPE 3903 office, 143 Atkinson Building.

For the full list of bargaining-related meetings this semester, please see the Events section of the CUPE 3903 website.

Update on Unit 1 Bargaining Team vacancy

After being open for two weeks, the nomination period to fill the vacant position for Unit 1 member of the Bargaining Team closed on Monday, November 3 at 5:00 p.m.

Due to the withdrawal of one candidate and the incomplete nomination of another candidate, the Election Officers accepted only one nomination for the Unit 1 Bargaining Team by-election.

Therefore, it is the recommendation of the Election Officers that Alex Hunsberger be acclaimed as Unit 1 Bargaining Team member. His acclamation means that there are no more vacancies on the Bargaining Team.

For more information, please contact the Election Officers: