We, the Executive Committee of CUPE 3903, are profoundly sorry for our mishandling of the process we had set out at the beginning of the “final offer” Special General Membership Meeting on March 2. We understand that members who voted “no” on the Employer’s latest offer thought there would be another opportunity to indicate whether to strike or go back to the table. We acknowledge that we emphasized this point throughout the meeting, and that many members stayed long after they voted, not just to hear the outcome of the vote, but also to participate in the discussion about next steps.
Although we had discussed in our private caucus after the counting of the ballots how to initiate the discussion about next steps, we were extremely careless in how we planned to announce the results and our recommendation to move directly to strike. This error in judgment denied the members of their chance to actively shape the strategy recommended by the Executive Committee. It also deflated what could have been an uplifting and inspiring moment, following a record-setting meeting of over 1,200 members.
That our members have nevertheless led an effective and confident strike speaks volumes about their commitment to the local and to the fight for a better York.
We also acknowledge that we failed to create an open and accessible space in which all members could have fully participated in the debate. We have heard from members who feel that our conduct fell short of the Equality Statement and that, at times, the tone of the discussion made it very difficult for them to air dissenting views or ask questions. We agree that our union must be a space in which all members feel safe and comfortable in expressing their views or in seeking clarification from the Bargaining Team or Executive Committee. We are fully committed to creating such an atmosphere at future meetings and in all union spaces.
In addition, we recognize our failure to conduct the meeting in the most equitable manner possible. We are grateful to all the members who identified this during the meeting, and who have contacted us afterwards with critical suggestions for putting Equity at the heart of all union meetings. We commit to improving our approach to Equity both in the short-term, as we conduct our strike, and in the long-term, as we strive to build greater unity in the union in the months ahead.
We are fully committed to bringing an end to the strike as quickly as possible, once the Employer offers us something that our members might be inclined to accept. We hope that, as the strike unfolds, we will find the opportunity to demonstrate in practice our commitment to a better, more transparent, more empowering, and more respectful process – and one that builds the confidence of all the members who have led and carried out our strike.
The Executive Committee