On Thursday, January 18, 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.
We are very disappointed that this meeting, in which very little occurred, was followed up with the release of an open letter to our members which seriously misrepresents the current state of bargaining. It seems abundantly clear that York wants to bargain in public opinion rather than at the table. We must force them to take bargaining seriously: all of next week, vote YES for a strong strike mandate.
Ongoing Requests for Data
The employer did return with some of the information that was requested the previous Monday. However, the bargaining team expressed doubts about the credibility of the data after errors were easily spotted, such as postings that are CUPE-exempt being listed with our members.
Further Discussions of Equity Proposals
The only event of note in the day-long bargaining session was that the employer met with the union to hear our Equity Officer offer yet another explanation of our position on equity proposals. The union specifically identified areas where we believed an agreement could be reached, such as accepting the equity hiring provisions for ticketed courses the employer had proposed, as long as it remained separate from their proposal to increase tickets, and accepting other equity provisions as long as they include LGBTQ as an equity-seeking group. There were also long discussions regarding the use of video relay for ASL interpretation and the sudden change in policy in 2016 which caused 24-month disability extensions not being funded for the whole two years.
Overall, the fact that detailed conversations occurred was a positive step. These equity proposals have been explained on numerous occasions. Doing so once more was an act of goodwill that we can only hope will be answered with movement. This seems unlikely, however, considering that the employer is broadcasting loud and clear that they do not want to bargain, preferring to refer every part of our agreements to arbitration. Furthermore, even if agreement were achieved on a handful of equity issues, this does not change that some of the most substantive issues — job security, graduate funding, and restoring the 700 jobs that were cut from Unit 3 — remain unaddressed.
Vote YES in the Strike Mandate Vote
The lack of movement and inadequate engagement with bargaining is why we need every member to vote YES in the upcoming Strike Mandate Vote, which will take place January 22-26. Without a strong strike mandate to motivate the employer to bargain, we will be forced to accept concessionary contracts.
The employer has acknowledged as much themselves, putting their PR machine to work to try to convince our members to vote no.
As we go forward with the Strike Mandate Vote, we will continue to bargain twice a week: Mondays and Thursdays. As always, members are welcome to attend, observe, pass notes to the bargaining team, and participate in caucuses.