Nov 20 Bargaining Report: Pedagogy, Nursing, Professional Development

On Monday, November 20, the bargaining team for CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2 and 3 met with the employer for a full day of bargaining. We were pleased that the employer appears to have backed off threatening our members and berating our bargaining team. We were thus able to have many productive exchanges, even though we remain far apart on many issues.

A comparative table of proposals and responses has been prepared by the bargaining team: Bargaining Proposals up to November 20. All of the proposal documents which have been tabled so far are available on the Reports page, with the exception of employer proposals from the last meeting, which will be added as soon as we receive digital copies.

Labour Management Updates

The meeting again began with labour management issues. We have received confirmation that the Continuing Sessional Standing Program (CSSP) payouts will be included in the November paycheque. Departments were reminded of the posting requirements for Units 1, 2 and 3, and a meeting will be held to discuss York’s unilateral decision to stop paying for dependents out of the UHIP fund.

Union Proposals on Pedagogy

The union presented a proposal on class sizes. Reducing class sizes ensures that students can receive adequate attention from their instructors. This provides more time not only for class content but to teach the kinds of critical skills necessary to excel at the university.

There were also proposals on online courses to establish seniority, course design, equity provisions, and contact hours with students.

We take pedagogy proposals very seriously. We do not see our students as “Basic Income Units” as York likes to call them, but as people in need of the best quality of education that we can provide.

Nursing-Specific Union Proposals

Two Unit 2 members from the School of Nursing presented a number of proposals meant to address the growing problems within Nursing at York. Nursing is one of the biggest Unit 2 hiring units, hiring many clinical course directors (CCDs), i.e. Registered Nurses who teach clinical courses. Yet there have been sustained problems over the last few years.

A detailed proposal was tabled to limit clinical course sizes. Overloading CCDs can have serious impacts on patient safety. There were also several proposals meant to limit the amount of unremunerated work CCDs are required to do. The number of orientations they have to attend at the University has ballooned from half a day to sometimes up to two days; this is time for which CCDs are not paid, yet if they miss the orientation, their pay can be docked. There was also discussion of unreasonable expectations of being on-call 24/7 without adequate remuneration.

Furthermore, recently York has arbitrarily started demanding that CCDs provide “proof of practice”, i.e. proof that they practice at a hospital. However, their registration as Registered Nurses considers them to be qualified on the basis of being CCDs. This has resulted in members suddenly being deemed unqualified to teach the same courses they have always taught. In one example, the CCD had taught the same course for 12 years.

The employer, like the members from Nursing, stressed the importance of patient safety. However, the employer did not seem to fully appreciate to what extent all of these arbitrary policies and unnecessary stressors also take a toll on patient safety. It is of the utmost importance that these issues be resolved fully in this round of bargaining, and that members in Nursing be treated with the respect they deserve.

Return to Union Equity Proposals

CUPE 3903 offered a few small modifications to our equity proposals in order to address the employer’s concerns around some of the language, including the addition of LGBTQ as an equity-seeking group. Most notably, we have reaffirmed our commitment to a 30hr/week ASL interpreter. York’s vague promises to make interpretation software available at some point in the future is insufficient.

Employer Responses: A Lot of No’s

After lunch, the employer offered a number of responses on proposals from previous weeks. Here is a list of the negative responses:

  • Removing the “hotshot clause” (where the employer can decide to supersede seniority).
  • Emailing Notices of Recommended Appointment (NRAs) to members.
  • Lowering the eligibility and increasing the value of tuition waivers for members.
  • Compiling equity data on who gets admitted to graduate school.
  • Compiling equity data for hiring procedures.
  • Applying a penalty when the employer fails to provide crucial employment information to members.
  • Increasing the total executive honoraria amount (in recognition of the new position caused by the addition of Unit 4, part-time librarians and archivists).

There were responses which, while not an outright no, were disappointing. On breastfeeding facilities, the employer has said that they will “develop a plan going forward” from August 2018. We are not interested in any vague plans York may have for the future. We are bargaining concrete proposals into our contracts now.

On paid equity training, the employer insisted that this training should be counted as part of the contract hours. This is not current practice in many departments. Also, in many cases, every hour of the contract is accounted for in teaching, grading, student contact, etc. On sexual violence training specifically, we were disappointed with York’s response, which appears to insist that only course directors would be required to take sexual violence training. The BT insisted that TAs must deal with disclosures of sexual violence all the time. Considering York’s stated commitment to preventing and responding to sexual violence, it should not be a problem to champion as much training as possible for everyone.

Union Professional Development Proposals

The union presented six professional development proposals. Five asked for increases to Research Leaves (Unit 2), Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER) (Unit 2), the Research Costs Fund (Unit 1), the Tuition Costs Fund (Unit 1), and the Professional Development Fund (PDF) (all units). These funds, especially the PDF, have seen a marked increase in membership use, which means a smaller amount of funds available for each member who applies. There was also a proposal for a new Conference Travel Fund for Units 1 and 3, in recognition of both the importance of presenting at conferences and the often high costs of doing so.

Next Meeting

The next bargaining meeting will take place on Monday, November 27, from 10 am to 5 pm, in the Harry Crowe room, 109 Atkinson. This meeting will be especially important to members of Units 1 and 3, as we will be presenting our proposals for funding for both units. It’s time to stop the cuts to graduate funding, preserve Unit 1 funding, and save Unit 3!