On Wednesday May 27, CUPE 3903 filed a grievance in relation to the employer’s interpretation of our tuition offset language (Letters of Intent 1 and 6). This provision is often referred to as tuition indexation. Our position is that any member who is affected by tuition increases must be compensated with an equivalent increase in funding.
Originally York stated that according to their interpretation, only 18 members (roughly 12%) affected by the increases would receive any additional funding. Amounts of additional funding for those lucky 18 varied between $6135.56 (only two members) and $135, for a total of $32,597.29 in additional funding paid out by the employer. Following union pressure over the summer, York increased the number of members receiving some form of offset to 30, for a total of $120,000.
With over 100 members still waiting for their offsets, and with York insisting on a narrow misinterpretation of the language, the matter has been brought to arbitration, a process which involves a long waiting period. In the meantime, however, there have been two developments.
First, ongoing pressure from the union resulted in more offset payments for 18 international student members, which totals just over $27,000. This is a fraction of the over $600,000 owed from last year alone, but it is a step in the right direction. The fact that York itself keeps changing the number of members who are owed an offset reveals to what extent their own interpretation of the offset language is arbitrary.
Second, in late September CUPE local 4600, which represents teaching assistants and contract faculty at Carleton University in Ottawa, won a similar arbitration case. They grieved their employer because a tuition increase violated their provision called the Tuition Increase Assistance (similar to our tuition indexation), and won after a lengthy process.
While this is good news for the post-secondary sector as a whole, we need to keep mobilizing if we want to build on this precedent in our own arbitration case. The International Offset Sub-Committee has a number of plans up its sleeve, in which all members are invited to participate. Let’s help York realize that the writing is on the wall: it’s time to pay international students what they’re owed! If you would like to get involved in planning actions and communications in support of our tuition indexation arbitration case, email firstname.lastname@example.org.