November 13 Bargaining Update: Discussion of Equity Proposals, Unit 1 Funding, LSTAs, Student Evaluations

The CUPE 3903 bargaining team met with the employer on Monday, November 13. From the outset, York’s lawyer introduced a new agenda item solely to berate the bargaining team. This lawyer, Simon Mortimer, threatened rank-and-file members of the union with discipline as an employee, or discipline for breach of the student code of conduct, for taking photos inside the negotiating room.

The CUPE 3903 bargaining team affirms and upholds the principle of open bargaining in the highest possible terms. We reject the employer’s threats made against the membership. We will not be intimidated by hollow paternalism from Bay Street lawyers. The membership is the highest decision-making body in the union and a source of strength for the bargaining team.

The bargaining team will not tolerate delay and/or intimidation tactics.
We have work to do: Let’s work.

Equity Proposals

Following a caucus, the employer responded to some of the equity proposals we presented two meetings ago. They rejected the proposal to hire an ASL interpreter. They also said they are looking into the physical space requirements for the breastfeeding facilities. The employer tabled counter proposals in response to changes to Unit 1 academic and priority pool extensions (proposals 91 and 92 of our proposals package) that uses the language “protected grounds” instead of “disability or disabilities and/or, marital-, and/or family-status obligations”. They countered our detailed accommodations procedure for all three units (proposal 94) with a commitment to consultation with CUPE 3903 regarding accommodations. Finally, the employer presented a counter “recognizing” the barriers faced by LGBTQ people, but refused to include LGBTQ as an equity-seeking group. York’s lawyer even said that they could not add a group that is not protected by the Federal Contractors Program, and suggested that doing so would pave the way for white men to be recognized as an equity seeking group. This further shows that the employer is not taking equity seriously. The CUPE 3903 bargaining team is firmly committed to the principles of equity and accessibility and will continue to push as hard as we can on these matters.


The employer did not provide any responses to our Unit 2 job security proposals presented last week. However, the employer did respond to our questions from October 16 about the future of the Long-Service Teaching Appointment (LSTA) program. On that date, the employer proposed the decimation of our Conversion program, reducing it from eight tenure-track Conversions per year to one. At that point, we asked what they were proposing for LSTAs. Finally, on this past Monday (i.e. four weeks later!), they tabled a counter proposal on LSTAs which would maintain the current rate of seven LSTAs per year and raise the ceiling on the total number of LSTAs from 60 to 70. This employer proposal falls far short of our demand to seriously address the job security demands of Unit 2 members.

Unit 1 Funding

The employer presented their proposal for Unit 1 funding to a large audience of concerned members. This proposal is a comprehensive overhaul to the way full-time graduate students receive funding. The employer’s proposal would replace existing Article 10.03.1 (Grant-in-Aid), 10.12 (Graduate Financial Assistance), Letter of Intent 6 (Tuition Offset), and Letter of Agreement: Additional Funding for Priority Pool Members with a new Article 11. The employer’s proposal breaks Unit 1 funding down into two elements, “Direct-Deposit TA Financial Support” and “Guaranteed Minimum Additional Funding for Doctoral Student Employees with at least One More Year of Priority Pool Eligibility Remaining.” The employer failed to address several key concerns brought up by the Unit 1 bargaining team, most notably how this funding is attached to availability to work, and whether these funds can be clawed back. The Unit 1 bargaining team knows that the Fellowship Funding Model is one of the core issues that affect the Unit’s members. We will not accept a deal without making sure that the fellowship is addressed in the collective agreement. If the employer wishes to pay out any element of Unit 1 funding as the fellowship, then the fellowship must be addressed in the collective agreement.

We are currently preparing a more detailed explanation of the employer’s Unit 1 funding proposal. Interested members may also wish to consult the employer’s proposal and the employer’s presentation on their proposal.

Student Evaluations

The employer has put forward a concessionary proposal regarding student evaluations. The results of these evaluations would be made available to students. The union countered with a hard no. The CUPE 3903 bargaining team referred to the extensive literature on why student evaluations betray principles of equity and negatively impact women and racialized Instructors. While the union genuinely incorporates student feedback into our teaching practices, the employer could not guarantee the student evaluations would be free of bias.

Communications and Union Rights

Over 90% of respondents on the bargaining survey said York administration does not communicate effectively. The union has put forward a number of proposals (numbered 95 to 101 in our proposal package) to improve communications.

Next Meeting: Monday November 20

The meeting adjourned at 4pm and the next bargaining session is Monday November 20, 2017 at 10am. To build the kind of power we need to win a proper contract, members have to be present. Improvements are directly correlated to attendance. If you haven’t come yet, come for just 30 minutes. Lunch is always provided for members.