Bargaining update #11

"What's your vision? Free tuition!" CUPE 3903 members rally in solidarity with undergraduates in the Student Centre on October 21.

“What’s your vision? Free tuition!” CUPE 3903 members rally in solidarity with undergraduates in the Student Centre on October 21.

Items in this update: 

  • Bargaining news
  • Bargaining dates and topics

Bargaining news

The CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team (BT) met on Tuesday, November 11 with representatives from the Employer. The BT and the Employer first followed up on a number of items of discussion arising from the previous bargaining session, where the BT had presented its Tuition and Funding proposals. The BT tabled its own costing estimates for this part of the package in response to the Employer’s estimates. Though there were some areas of agreement, there were also several items where the BT found the Employer’s estimates to be unrealistically high.

The BT took the Employer to task with respect to comments it had made at the previous bargaining session about Unit 3 members not having a significant commitment to the University. The BT made clear the Union’s commitment to improving working and learning conditions for Unit 3 members, all of whom are engaged in graduate work and require the necessary supports to conduct independent research. The Employer has repeatedly emphasized its wish to help graduate students develop professionally. If that is the case, it should be enthusiastic about providing funding packages that free graduate students to focus on their studies, rather than how they will earn enough money to cover tuition, rent and other expenses. Moreover, the BT pointed out that many Master students go on to do PhDs, showing a long-term commitment to study, and that some current PhDs are actually Unit 3 members.

The BT highlighted its hope for movement from the Employer on the Union’s proposal to extend an extra year of funding to Master students with disabilities who hold teaching assistantships, an item on which the Employer had indicated it might be amenable to discussion. Even outside the Equity and Transparency proposals, equity is a recurring theme of the Union’s bargaining package.

The BT proceeded to discuss several proposals under the Job Security and Workload heading that relate to the protection of bargaining unit work. There are strong concerns, particularly among Unit 2 members, that various policies of the Employer are causing bargaining unit work to leak elsewhere. Keeping work within the bargaining unit is crucial to allowing precariously employed contract faculty some degree of job stability.

In the long run, moving work outside of the Unit 2 sphere does not help graduate students, either, as many of them will eventually be employed as contract instructors. Given the paucity of tenure-stream hires at most universities, being able to transition into contractual teaching appointments within Unit 2 after graduating is increasingly important for freshly minted graduates, especially those paying off student loan debts. Preserving work within Unit 2 is important for us all.

Finally, the BT presented several proposals designed to reduce administrative arbitrariness by the Employer, such as a proposal to compensate Unit 2 members in cases where notices of appointment are late.

The Employer responded by opening the door to further negotiation on a number of minor items, such as providing Unit 2 members access to work histories online, while failing to show much movement on the larger and more substantial items.

The BT remains disappointed with the Employer’s responses to its proposals so far. If the Employer is serious about improving working and learning conditions for CUPE 3903 members as well as other members of the York community, it will have to demonstrate its commitment by making serious offers at the bargaining table. CUPE 3903’s message continues to be that “A Better York is Possible,” if only the University is prepared to step up to the plate.

Bargaining dates and topics

Our Employer has had our proposal package in its entirety since late September, and we’ve presented detailed rationale for a great many of the proposals contained therein. The responses we’ve gotten back, however, have been few and far between. The ones we have received have been inadequate, as they don’t address our central concerns. This is, of course, a problem!

The more 3903ers we have in the room with us, the more the Employer understands that we’re dedicated to what we’re talking about. We have three more bargaining sessions scheduled with the Employer before the end of the semester. At each one we’ll be presenting certain proposals in detail for the first time. These meetings are open to all members of 3903, and we encourage you to attend!

  • On November 18, we will be detailing our proposals on copyright, qualifications language, class size, and a few other things.
  • On November 25, we will be defending proposals on job security, which includes proposals around conversion, Long Service Teaching Appointments (LSTAs), and what we’re calling “continuing sessional status” – a job security program for all Unit 2 members.
  • On December 2, we’ll be presenting the wages and benefits proposals.

The Bargaining Team meets in the CUPE 3903 office, 143 Atkinson Building at 1:30 p.m. before each bargaining meeting with the Employer.

For meeting dates, times and locations, please see 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.