General Election and Unit 2 BT Run-Off Statements

Voting for the general elections for the executive committee will open at the Annual General Meeting on March 15. Voting will continue for 5 days after the meeting. There are three contested position: Recording Secretary, Chief Steward Unit 1, and Chief Steward Unit 4. The run-off election for the position of Unit 2 bargaining team will also follow the same timeline.

There will be a polling station at both the Keele and Glendon campuses from 9 am to 5 pm on March 16-17 and 20-22.

Keele Campus Polling Station:
Vari Hall link (between Vari Hall and Central Square)

Glendon Campus Polling Station:
Outside the Cafeteria (across from York Hall, Room 170)

The candidate statements for the contested executive committee positions and the Unit 2 BT run-off can be found below.

Recording Secretary

Gizem Çakmak

A picture of Recording Secretary candidate Gizem Çakmak.

I am an international student and a labour activist who is dedicated to social unionism and the defense of our livelihoods. For the past year, I have been your Recording Secretary. In that capacity, I have shown a track record of excellent minute taking. Beyond routine tasks, I have accomplished the following:

  • Revamped the policy manual,
  • Communicated with CUPE National to get our bylaws up to date,
  • Started the work on the bargaining-strike manual,
  • Kept past minute approvals up to date,
  • Executed research for bargaining and prepared the local’s bargaining timeline,
  • Supported Unit 4 bargaining.

As a member of the Executive Committee, I have also served as Labour Management Committee representative, signing authority, member of the team confronting the fellowship model and tuition offset arbitration.

In addition to my experience as the Recording Secretary/Research Officer, I have a wide variety of experiences in our local. In 2015-2016, I was Chief Steward Unit 1 and member of the Grievance Committee. In 2014, I was pro-tem Trans Feminist Action Caucus co-chair. Leading up to and during the 2015 strike, I was an active member of the Bargaining Mobilization and Strike Committees.

My involvement in 3903 has helped me to get well-versed on our collective agreements, bylaws, the CUPE National constitution, and our agreement with CUPE 1281 (the union that represents our staff). The Recording Secretary must have a strong grasp of these documents because the position requires more than taking minutes and setting agendas. It also involves doing research, organizing and filing documents, helping the Archive Committee, maintaining our policies up-to-date, and liaising with CUPE National.

Furthermore, my political values align with those of this local. As an intersectional feminist, the fight against all forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and transphobia is an integral part of my social unionism.

In a bargaining year, the duties of the Recording Secretary are essential to the orderly running of our bargaining efforts. Due to my proven experience and dedication to our local, I hope you vote for me. Looking forward to participating together!

Dan O’Hara

A picture of Recording Secretary candidate Dan O'Hara.

Upholding the principles and legacy of CUPE 3903 through the position of Recording Secretary requires more than minute-taking.

The Recording Secretary needs to be committed to creating an environment that encourages member participation and active interest in the local and bargaining process. An effective recording secretary also needs to help develop a research program that can aid the Executive, Bargaining Team, and Bargaining Mobilization Committee. My solid understanding of the university’s official decision making structures and unofficial community networks enables me to fulfill these responsibilities and bring a unique and useful perspective to the CUPE 3903 Executive, and, as such, am asking for your support.

To summarize my qualifications, detailed further below:

  1. I have experienced and fought against instances of university repression of political speech.
  2. As a campus organizer, I can help to activate student networks in solidarity with 3903.
  3. I possess working knowledge of York’s governing structures, including the Board of Governors.
  4. My academic work positions me well to aid the bargaining team with effective research.

Firstly, I have worked with clubs, organizations, and institutions at York University to study the documents that outline the rights that we have on campus, and to ensure that we are protected from abuses of authority by university administrators, including instances of punishment for political speech.

Secondly, I am familiar with the networks of political, cultural, and social groups on campus. This knowledge stems from years of organizing with Students Against Israeli Apartheid, as well as contributing to the founding of the YU Divest campaign to pressure the university to divest its endowment fund from weapons manufacturers. This knowledge will be useful in mobilizing critical undergraduate support networks throughout our bargaining process.

Thirdly, during the 2015 strike, rank and file CUPE 3903 members mobilized to elect me to a two-year position on York’s Board of Governors as the graduate student representative. Being the only critical voice on a board dominated by corporate interests has been a sobering and alienating experience, as I was repeatedly reminded of the limits of the position. Nevertheless, one of the advantages is that I can now help to shed light on of some of the most important and daunting of York’s governing structures and institutional practices.

Lastly, my research as a Political Science PhD student traces neoliberal transformations in the structure of university governance. My academic work means that I am well-positioned to support our bargaining team with effective research.

Thank you for reading, and I hope I have your vote!

Chief Steward Unit 1

Karl Gardner

A picture of Chief Steward Unit 1 candidate Karl Gardner

Hello, my name is Karl Gardner and I’m hoping you’ll elect me as Chief Steward Unit 1. I am an organizer and educator in Toronto, primary connected to migrant justice and Indigenous solidarity movements in the city. Having an MA and pursuing a PhD in Political Science at York, I have been an active member of CUPE 3903 for almost 4 years. A majority of my union-related work has been through the First Nations Solidarity Working Group, as I believe that making connections between different struggles can only make us stronger.

At it’s core, being a Chief Steward is being an organizer. It’s about bringing people together, engaging in collective education, and building community. This task is especially important as we move into a bargaining year.

As an organizer with No One Is Illegal-Toronto and a Toronto group committed to supporting Grassy Narrows First Nation, I have the skills necessary to do this job right. Beyond convening Stewards Council meetings and CUPE barbecues, I will:

  • Engage departments traditionally pushed out of union politics
  • Organize Contract and Collective Bargaining Workshops for Stewards and Unit 1 members to ensure we enter bargaining with a strong, informed membership
  • Ensure clear and accountable lines of communication between Unit 1 members and the CUPE 3903 Executive
  • Strengthen connections between CUPE 3903 and the Steward’s Council and movements in the city

Thanks for your consideration!

Harjot Singh Deol

A picture of Chief Steward Unit 1 candidate Harjot Singh Deol

Hello, my name is Harjot Singh Deol and I am running for the position of Chief Steward Unit 1. As a Masters candidate in the Faculty of Science, I hope to represent and help mobilize graduate students from my home Faculty and across the University during the upcoming round of collective bargaining. Several critical issues will be negotiated in 2017, including the implication of the new funding model, tuition fees for international students, health benefits and equity provisions. Unit 1 must form a strong monolithic force to face the employer and succeed in negotiating a substantively improved contract.

As an active member of the Childcare Committee in 2016/17 and a regular attendee of Union meetings throughout the year, I learned a great deal about how our local works and how vital its role is to graduate students’ working conditions. I very well understand the critical role chief stewards will play in engaging union members in the bargaining process this year. If elected, I will strive to educate Unit 1 members about our collective agreement rights and inform them about what’s at stake during contract negotiations. I will organize informational sessions for students in individual departments and work closely with departmental stewards and stewards’ council to mobilize and energize our members. I will particularly focus on mobilizing the departments in the Faculty of Science that in the past were poorly engaged in the Union. I believe explaining to every graduate student the critical importance of the bargaining process and getting them involved in the Union’s work is key to successful contract negotiations.

To achieve these goals, I will draw on my past activist and volunteer experience. As a student activist throughout my undergraduate years here at York I have advocated for the right to affordable and accessible education. I have mentored new students in the ScienceFirst program and was a science tutor helping struggling students succeed academically in the university environment and reach their potential. In addition, I have several years of experience in community organizing in the context of political, religious and cultural events in my community outside of York. I intend to utilize my skills and experience to bring TOGETHER Unit 1 members across departments, faculties, and campuses to form a STRONGER VOICE during the bargaining year!

Please contact me at if you have questions about my candidacy, or to share your ideas about union stewardship.

Unit 2 bargaining team

Waseem Malik

A picture of Unit 2 BT candidate Waseem Malik.

My name is Waseem Malik and I am unit 2 member. I am running for the bargaining
team membership. I need your support to be part of it. My top priority, if won,
will be to negotiate, bargain and fight for our right to job security and
protect our members’ best interests. Vote me.

Thank you.

Maria Wallis

A picture of Unit 2 BT candidate Maria Wallis.

I have been an active member of CUPE 3903 for over a decade, serving as VP Unit 2, Grievance Officer, member of the Ways and Means, the Extended Health, and the Employment Equity Committees, and the Race and Ethnic Relations LMC. Many in this local know my daughter, Rose, who has walked the picket line too. With others, I helped our members get the 2010 Equity Report (see CUPE 3903’s website). This report helped us organize and achieve the inclusion of LGBT in the Employment Equity categories, and the current focus on ‘intersectionality’. With others, I have been working in the Employment Equity Committee this year to make intersectionality a reality.

I also have over 15 years of community activism in Toronto. I have organized and mobilized around poverty, racism and sexism. Rather than fall for the old ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, I have worked towards the building of coalitions and alliances. My vision? That ‘Another World is Possible.’

We have concerns to address again in this round of collective bargaining around graduate students’ and international students’ tuition fees and funding packages. We must work to ensure that higher education is accessible for all. Education is a right. A united CUPE 3903 will be the greatest challenge to our intransigent employer.

Unit 2 issues revolve around job security, and our quality of life. We have seen the undermining of seniority in our collective agreement in the employer’s interpretation of qualifications. There are major issues of accountability and transparency in our hiring procedures, in the conversion, LSTA, and CSS programs. Class sizes have grown, and tutorials have been cut. This not only erodes our work, but also intensifies it. We work more but earn less.

Unit 2 members’ needs across all seniority levels must be balanced if we are to be strong before the employer in this important round of bargaining. It will be especially critical to build opportunities for contract faculty at the new Markham campus. I will work hard to continue building and enhancing Unit 2 job security measures, as well as improving program and benefit funds. I bring considerable experience to the bargaining table. I have seen how the employer bargains and I can put my years of experience to work if you provide me with the opportunity. I ask for your support and your vote. Thank you for your consideration.