On Monday May 11th, the executive met with the employer to discuss the implementation of the tuition offset for international students and summer funding increases for Unit 3. The outcome of this meeting is cause for alarm: the employer communicated that they have no intention of respecting the agreement that we ratified on March 31st.
The employer’s interpretation would not see a $7000 rebate for many, if not most, international students from the 2014 cohort. The employer is conflating graduate student funding packages with merit-based scholarships. They are of the opinion that existing funding should be counted towards making up for the tuition increase, under the logic that it constitutes “merit-based scholarships”. CUPE 3903 is firmly against this interpretation. The purpose of our strike was to protect the principle of tuition indexation. This means that international students need to receive additional funding to cover the tuition increase above 2012 levels. Instead, the employer is counting funding that members already have to cover this increase.
The employer’s plan is to evaluate what funds are available to each international student and send each individual a communication from FGS informing them of the amount – if any – of their additional funding. This protocol makes it clear that the employer is trying its best to avoid paying out the money it owes to international students following the adoption of the new Collective Agreements. Assigning an individual dollar amount to each international student not only means a staggering amount of work for both FGS and CUPE 3903, but also that the employer is individualizing what we struggled for together. The intent of our bargaining was never for each individual to be entitled to a different amount of funding.
To the employer, we urge you to reconsider. We have an opportunity to rationalize a very irrational system; let’s not conflate funding and scholarships. To our membership, we need to remember that bargaining does not end with the signing of a collective agreement. We need to fight for its implementation. We need to let the employer know that we did not strike for more $0 paycheques.
There will be many opportunities for members to get involved. More information on this situation will be shared as soon as it becomes available. The Stewards’ Council is meeting Wednesday May 13 at 11 am in the union office and will be discussing this issue; all members are welcome to attend.