Proposed Tuition Offset Settlement

On Friday, April 1st 2016, CUPE 3903’s executive committee voted to recommend the latest settlement offer from the employer. This offer will be discussed and voted on by the membership at the April 4 SGMM. The full text of the settlement offer can be found here.

This settlement would alter the existing language of Letters of Intent 1 and 6 (in the U3 and U1 collective agreements, respectively). This language right now reads as follows:

Effective September 1, 2014, in the event that graduate tuition fees (except MBA, IMBA, MPA, part-time LLM students, MHRM and MDes and other professional programs as may be approved) and/or administrative or ancillary fees are increased above the Board of Governors approved rates for domestic and visa students as of September 1, 2012, any employees in the bargaining unit who are registered full time and pay the higher fees will receive funding in an amount equivalent to the tuition increase in order that their net income from salary, including negotiated salary increases, is not offset by the tuition and/or administrative/ancillary fee increase. Such funding may include increases in Graduate Financial Assistance or other sources that do not require the performance of work in exchange for the additional funding. Such funding will not include any needs-based bursaries.

The employer, within months of ratifying our new collective agreements, interpreted this clause to mean that they could count almost any non-salary income towards the offset, for example scholarships, research assistantships, and the Graduate Financial Assistance (GFA). The union has always maintained that this clause effectively acts as tuition indexation, which is to say that an increase in tuition must be met with a corresponding increase in total funding.

After the union prepared its brief for arbitration in late February, the employer approached the union about a potential settlement, and the first proposal was made on March 3. This first proposal suggested that the offset be paid through a fellowship, and specified that scholarships and research assistantships would not count towards the offset, but increases in Graduate Financial Assistance (GFA) could. The union countered with a proposal that suggested that the offset be paid through the GFA mechanism (that is, directly into student accounts each semester), but that the negotiated increases in GFA would not count towards the offset. The union was also clear that we would not bargain fellowships into our collective agreements before they expire, especially since the university’s fellowship plan would gut Unit 3. Over several weeks, many changes were made before arriving at the current settlement.

The settlement would propose to amend the language of Letters of Intent 1 and 6. The main difference with this language is that it specifies that the additional funding must be “a dedicated amount of additional funding” (i.e. not taken from other sources), which cannot be offset by other forms of funding or require that members do additional work for this funding. It also confirms the understanding that this will apply to all incoming members. Offset payments will be made like GFA payments, that is to say directly into student accounts each semester.

While specific amounts will vary by member, current members affected by the tuition increases since 2012 will be paid out the difference between the tuition increase and any offset funding they have already received.