Meet the Candidates for Grievance Officer

The nominations for the Grievance Officer position have closed. Elections will open during the June 23 GMM, and will continue until June 30.

The candidates for Grievance Officer are the following:

Hazel Gashoka has been pro-temmed to the position of Interim Elections Officer.

Jeremiah Gaster, Unit 1

My name is Jeremiah Gaster, I’m almost a year 6 PhD Student, I’ve been at York for all three of my degrees, and have thus been a member of CUPE 3903 since September 2009. It was the year that we were put under administration, and I have been more or less actively involved in the Stewards’ Council since. I have outside labour connections with the World Federation of Trade Unions, with whom I underwent a union activist training session in November 2007. I was a member of Basics Community Newspaper for many years, and participated in the May First Movement throughout the past 8 years. I have also participated in several social movements in Colombia from 2007 through 2009. I was part of the Strike Committee during the most recent strike.

It is an unfortunate fact of life, but seeing as we are paid employees, we are in an adversarial relationship with our employer. However, the good news is that as part of a union, we have institutional possibilities for resolving some of the conflicts that arise. As your Grievance Officer, I would be committed to serve you, the members of the union, and help solve any grievances that have arisen, and it would be my job to help you through the process, making sure that you are not alone (and unfortunately, it is more than possible that you wouldn’t be alone in being mistreated by our employer) but the point is as well that the grievance process is a collective process. Moreover, I will help facilitate this collective process and hopefully problems, such as the problems we have had around pay this summer or around other aspects of our new collective agreement, will be resolved as promptly as possible.

My most important role will be ensuring that any grievances that happen will not be left unresolved, and I will work with the union staff, the chief stewards and Stewards’ Council, along with the rest of the Grievance Committee to resolve our problems. I will work tirelessly in this process for anyone who has a grievance against the employer, and I will try to foster an active rank and file presence as part of any grievances.

I am committed to working with my colleagues in the other elected positions to promote the agenda of justice for the members of 3903, who are privileged to be teachers, contract faculty, TAs and researchers at a wonderful institution. What is key is that it is our work that makes the university work, and it is by working together that we become the best teachers, educators and researchers, by working together to make sure that we maintain the good standard of collective bargaining that we have won through our union. I will also support rank and file initiatives that ensure that our union is responsive to ending any sexism, racism or ableism that has been an unfortunate part of union spaces for far too long. In that sense, I would be interested in hearing from my colleagues and fellow members of any concerns about either our employer or any issues about union spaces.


Maria Wallis, Unit 2

Hello: My name is Maria Wallis, and I am running for the position of Grievance Officer in CUPE 3903.

I have a long history in our local, first as a TA (Unit 1), and now as a contract faculty (Unit 2) teaching in Sociology and Human Rights and Equity. I have a track record of activism in 3903, and in the Toronto communities: I served as Unit 2 Chief Steward, member of the Unit 2 Research Grants Fund, Ways and Means Committee, the Race Labour-Management Committee, and in the Employment Equity committee.

As a South Asian-Canadian female, I have also actively worked to integrate an anti-racist analysis in our union work. I have been very involved in mobilizing, with many others, to establish a Task Force on Anti-Racism at York. (We have been inspired by the community at Ryerson University and their achievements in this area.) I will also work to ensure that our local creates an integrated, intersectional analysis on violence without privileging any one specific form of exclusion and violence. When one of us is excluded, we can all hear the question–Who is next?

Every year, it seems, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. I think it is because we are in the midst of a protracted transformation of the university. I have heard from Unit 1s that courses in Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, for example, are being transformed into 3 hour lectures with no tutorials. There go Unit 1 jobs, and the intensification of work for Unit 2s. Unit 2s are also dealing with the undermining of seniority, and insertion of qualification language that pushes aside long-serving unit 2 members. Issues of both access to work and security of work are fundamental challenges we all face. The work also needs to continue on developing databases for grievances, arbitration, etc.

For Unit 2s, we now have new gains, but these will only be as good as our success in implementing these negotiated provisions—to our advantage. Then there is the new campus in Markham, and the Academic and Administrative Program Review (AAPR)….Are we ready for these new challenges?

I will work with our executive, committees, and membership to establish working committees so we can increase membership participation in important initiatives. I will ensure that we prepare NOW for the next bargaining round. I will also work with other union members to tackle tough issues such as how do we grapple with both seniority and equity issues and ensure that neither one is undermined? How do we make our local accessible, and more accountable?

I am prepared to work on these issues, with you. I am asking for your support, and vote. Thank you.


Jeffrey Zavala, Unit 3

Currently I am on the Labor management committee (LMC), which is the main reason why I have decided to run for the grievance officer position due to the lack of respect dignity and integrity that our employer has shown our membership. If I am elected I plan to commit my full attention on representing the membership by taking a hands on approach with the employer to ensure that all grievances are processed and brought to the employer in timely and efficient manner. Also I am also committed to taking courses in labor law and seminars that will provide me more knowledge and skills needed to challenge the employer on there interpretation of our current collective agreement.