Bargaining Update: Oct 30 Meeting with the York Admin

On Monday, October 30, the CUPE 3903 and York University bargaining teams met to discuss CUPE 3903’s equity proposals (numbered 76 through 94 in CUPE 3903’s bargaining proposal package). Thank you to the rank-and-file members who attended the meeting. Open bargaining and membership mobilization is the source of our strength. The next meeting will be on Monday, November 6 at 10am in the Harry Crowe room, 109 Atkinson.

Labour Management Issues

At the beginning of the meeting, CUPE 3903 requested that the employer address the problem of late Continuing Sessional Standing Program (CSSP) payouts. In past practice, issues that are normally dealt with at Labour-Management Committee (LMC) meetings were addressed at the bargaining table since the LMC does not function during bargaining. York’s lawyer, Simon Mortimer, quickly tried to shut this discussion down. He failed to do so, and the issue was brought to the attention of Rob Lawson, Associate Director of Faculty Relations. It was also established that ongoing labour management issues would be discussed at the bargaining table.

CUPE 3903 Equity Proposals and Employer Response

CUPE 3903 tabled several proposals meant to hold York accountable for their failures to accommodate members with disabilities, and address equity issues that emerged during the last contract period. These proposals include adding language to establish accommodations based on marital and family status, to strengthen and protect disability-based program extensions, and an accommodation procedure with firm timelines. The employer’s bargaining team seemed to conflate the issues of accommodations and extensions. There was an overall failure on the part of York’s bargaining team to address the blatant CA violations that these proposals were drafted to address.

CUPE 3903 also tabled several proposals to improve equity-based hiring procedures. The union believes that these proposals fit nicely with York’s rhetorical commitment to social justice as shown through their recent project on inclusion. The employer’s bargaining team failed to respond to these proposals in any meaningful way.

CUPE 3903 also included proposals for mandatory equity and sexual violence training and breastfeeding facilities. The employer’s lawyer responded to the breastfeeding proposal in an extremely problematic manner by questioning the very possibility of storing breast milk in a sanitary fashion on campus. Although this seems comical, this response shows how out of touch York’s administration is with the equity needs of its employees.

Disclosures and Information Requests

CUPE 3903 reminded the employer’s bargaining team of their failure to provide the information disclosures requested on June 1, particularly the phone numbers of our Unit 1 members. It has now been almost a full year since CUPE 3903 first brought this concern to the employer’s attention and the employer has failed to take action to remedy the situation

Employer’s Definition of Concessions

CUPE 3903 also addressed the ongoing broadcasting of false information on York’s labour negotiations website, specifically the employer’s recent report that they are not asking for any concessions from CUPE 3903. Despite the union BT addressing why the employer’s proposals are concessionary in nature in the previous bargaining meeting, the employer’s bargaining team continued to deny that any of their proposals are concessions. When it was pointed out that the employer was asking Unit 2 to accept a proposal that would allow for only one tenure-track conversion per year compared to the eight per year we were receiving during the previous contract, the employer stated that the conversion program had expired with the expiration of the CA and that since we would be bargaining the entire program again, proposing only one conversion is not a concession. This explanation is mendacious nonsense. In the context of collective bargaining, accepting a concession means accepting a contract in which important elements that were won in previous rounds of bargaining are lost. Simply put, one conversion per year is a lot fewer than the eight per year that we had in the previous CA!

CUPE 3903 Unit 2 members have clearly indicated that they expect an expansion of the conversion program, rather than a contraction of the program or even the maintenance of the status quo of eight conversions per year. Long-serving, experienced contract faculty deserve to be converted into tenure-stream positions.

Employer’s Online Summary of Proposals Includes Details They Didn’t Propose!

As CUPE 3903 members, we’re not surprised by the York administration’s political spin. We have seen the games that they play. But even we were surprised to discover that York’s online summary of their proposals to us includes details that weren’t actually presented to us.

On October 16, the York admin gave us their opening proposals. As noted above, they presented a concessionary proposal on conversions (from 8 down to 1). Along with the one tenure-track conversion per year, the employer proposed four so-called ‘conversions’ (not actual tenure-track conversions) to three-year Contractually Limited Appointment (CLAs) per year. It was only upon reading the employer’s on-line propaganda or “summary” that we learned that these CLAs would be “renewable for two further years.” This detail was not actually presented to us in bargaining.

CUPE 3903 members who are appointed to a CLA become members of the York University Faculty Association (YUFA) and the terms of their employment are shaped by the YUFA collective agreement. The YUFA collective agreement clearly states that CLAs “are appointments which carry no implication of renewal or continuation beyond the stated term” and that “only in exceptional circumstances … will an individual receive CLAs for a period longer than three (3) consecutive years.” Therefore, based on the YUFA collective agreement, we cannot assume that the employer’s proposed 3 year CLAs would be renewable for two further years. They certainly didn’t present that information at the table or in their written proposal. But this feature of being “renewable for two years” appeared on the York U website, and there only. Is it an actual proposal? Who knows?

In sum, the employer’s “summary” of proposals includes things they did not actually propose to us. Is it acceptable to be lying about what they have presented at the bargaining table? CUPE 3903 is not interested in replacing tenure-track conversions with CLAs, so this proposal is still a complete non-starter, but the employer’s misrepresentation of their proposal is still obnoxious and unprincipled. It doesn’t say much for the credibility of what they say at the bargaining table or what they post on their website.