On Thursday, January 11, the bargaining team for CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2, and 3 met with the employer and the conciliator appointed by the Ministry of Labour, Greg Long.
All of the proposal documents which have been tabled so far are available on the Reports page.
The employer began the day by complaining about rank-and-file members’ tweets again, demonstrating that they are still policing members’ social media accounts rather than focusing on bargaining. It is clear that this time could be better allocated, as the employer remains a firm “no” on 60 proposals. Most of these refusals are without explanation or rationale. The document provided to the union (which can be found here) clearly shows York’s complete intransigence in the face of proposals that would greatly improve not only the livelihoods of our members, but the quality of education at York — for example job security for contract faculty, reducing class sizes, and training Teaching Assistants to respond to disclosures of sexual violence.
Very Little Movement from Employer: York Still Proposing Concessions
We have signed off on a few small proposals: an online Notices of Recommended Appointments (NRA) and postings database, online access to work histories, notifying Unit 1 members of the seniority points attached to a position, online postings of Unit 3 positions, and Applicable Prior Experience (APE) for executive service. Several of these proposals were simply confirming existing practices by including them into the collective agreements.
Most of the day was dedicated to the bargaining team discussing the employer’s counters and preparing counters of our own. Discussions were had throughout the day with the conciliator in order to communicate our arguments and concerns to the employer. Overall, there has been no response or movement on the issues that the membership has identified as key bargaining issues: job security, securing graduate funding, and equity. In fact, the Employer is still proposing to seriously cut the Conversion Program and increase Unit 1 tickets (Course Directorships) which would take work away from Unit 2 members.
Employer Misleads York Community in Effort to Hide their Intransigence
On January 12, the employer posted their own bargaining update, which misrepresented the bargaining process in a truly egregious manner. Decrying that the union is not willing to move on their eight proposals when they are still showing no willingness to even discuss up to 60 proposals is beyond hypocritical. The York community deserves to understand the actual issues, and that is what the union aims to deliver.
Protections for the use of technology
The employer has characterized their proposal as “allowing students to use email to communicate with teaching assistants and contract faculty”. There is nothing in our collective agreements that prevents this. Students surely know this, as the vast majority of them have contacted their instructors through email or Moodle. The language that exists is designed to protect TAs and contract faculty from being penalized by unreasonable expectations of the use of technology. Answering student emails can be a large time commitment. Every instructor should have protections from unreasonable increases in workload.
Setting time limits to accept offers of appointment
The union has proposed that the employer set better timelines for offers of appointment. Currently, the timelines in the collective agreement allow for “exceptional circumstances” yet several departments have understood this to mean “nearly every circumstance”. Many — in some departments, nearly all — offers are made after the term starts, or very nearly, which has a negative impact on the students in these classes. What the union has told the employer is that we will not talk about a time limit to accept appointments until York seriously considers a timeline to offer appointments. One without the other would be nonsensical. The employer insists on its need for “flexibility” when issuing offers of appointment, but wants to impose tight response times on our members.
Resistance to publishing course evaluations is a matter of equity. There is ample research to show that course evaluations betray the biases of society at large, in terms of gender, race, sexuality, and ability (click here for a summary of sources prepared by the Bargaining Team. There is a list of additional sources at the bottom of this post). As York has claimed to care very much about equity, it is baffling that they would fight so hard for a proposal that would negatively impact the very people they claim to care about.
Employer misleads about union rejections
The employer has accused the union of “rejecting” increases to benefits and the use of websites to disseminate benefit package information. This is incredibly misleading, as these items are still on the table and being actively discussed by the bargaining team.
Vote YES in the Strike Mandate Vote
The lack of movement and inadequate engagement with bargaining generally is why we need every member to vote YES in the upcoming Strike Mandate Vote, which will take place January 22-26.
We will be bargaining twice a week in January: Mondays and Thursdays. As always, members are welcome to attend, observe, pass notes to the bargaining team, and participate in caucuses.
Check out the album of screenshots from the employer’s counters document: Bargaining Screenshots Album.
Additional Sources on the Equity Implications of Course Evaluations