Vote NO: Reasons to Kill York’s Forced Ratification

The Bargaining Team has prepared a unit-specific, issue-by-issue explanation of the employer offer that is bring brought to a forced ratification vote. All the proposal documents are available on the Bargaining Reports page, and the most recent offers can be found here: York Offer for Unit 1York Offer for Unit 2York Offer for Unit 3. The union’s latest bargaining position can be found here: CUPE 3903 Proposal Package as of March 20

All Unit Issues

Health Benefits

The employer has refused to increase dental, vision, or paramedical care. These benefits have not seen an increase in the past two rounds of bargaining and are not keeping up with rising costs. York has also refused to include coverage for orthodontics. York has offered to include coverage up to $1000 for dental implants (beginning in 2019) within the already existing $3000 dollars allocated for dental benefits. The only notable increase to benefits is an increase of $40,000 to the Extended Health Benefits Fund.

Sexual Violence Response

The employer has maintained a hard no to funding a union-controlled Sexual Violence Survivor Fund. They have offered to allocate up to $50,000 dollars to York’s Sexual Violence Response Office for support of survivors but have offered no concrete plan for how that money would be allocated including issues of confidentiality and survivor autonomy. The response on training to respond to sexual violence and other anti-oppression training is to include it in the existing 10 hours of training allocated to, but often not recognized for, Teaching Assistants.


No meaningful engagement with the anti-racism proposals. York has refused to track equity data for those accepted into graduate school and has given no equity based hiring consideration to new course design.


The Employer has said that “York isn’t in the childcare business.” As a result, they have refused to provide an adequate increase to the operating cost of the Lee Wiggins (Student Centre) Childcare Centre. And they won’t even accept a letter of intent to discuss the feasibility of childcare facilities at Glendon and Markham campuses. They have offered a $60,000 increase to the Childcare Fund.

Breastfeeding/Lactation Accommodations

York has proposed an individualized accommodation process for access to breastfeeding/lactation facilities through the Centre for Human Rights. York’s CHR directs members in need of lactation accommodations to the two daycare centres at Keele campus.

Of these two daycare centres, one does not have pumping or breastfeeding space. The other daycare centre is only open between 8:00 am and 5:30 pm Monday through Friday. This space is not guaranteed to be private.


York’s offer does not include language to protect the two-year priority pool extension based on all Human Rights Code-based grounds. York’s language on establishing an accommodation procedure is also very weak as it allows for York to wait 30 days to initiate the procedure.


The employer has moved to 2.1% in 2017, 2.2% in 2018, and 2.3% in 2019. York’s offer on wages barely meets the inflation rate of 2.2%. They have also rejected our proposal to establish a deadline/penalty for late payments.

No Back to Work Protocol

One of the worst things about York’s offer is that there is no back-to-work protocol! A back-to-work protocol would cover important issues like back-pay and pay for the remediation period (in past strikes, we have negotiated between 100% and 85% of our full pay). It should also offer protection against employer discipline and retaliation against members that participate in a strike. A back-to-work protocol would normally be negotiated between the two sides, but York cut off all negotiations when they applied for a forced final offer vote. Without a back-to-work protocol we have no protection and York will almost certainly try to financially penalize and punish us. If we vote no, then we will have a chance to negotiate a reasonable back-to-work protocol. Similarly, an arbitrator would be unlikely to impose a punitive back-to-work protocol. If you want to get paid, you should vote NO.

Unit 1 (Graduate Students with Teaching Contracts, mostly Teaching Assistants)

Summer Funding

We have successfully negotiated summer funding back for those who need it, but in its last pass on March 1st, York introduced language that would allow them to claw back this funding and apply part of Unit 1 summer funding towards tuition.

Resisting Clawbacks

York has completely refused to entertain our proposal to limit their ability to reduce the funding of Unit 1 members if they receive scholarships or other forms of additional funding. The current language of York’s proposal allows York to claw back the minimum guarantee element of Unit 1 funding if members win additional income in the form of scholarships. Master’s students who get a Teaching Assistantship get their funding cut by almost half.

Letter of Intent on the Fellowship Funding Model

The employer has refused to include a Letter of Intent to include the fellowship in the Collective Agreement which would clarify the amounts of the fellowship payments. This means that these payments, which remain a large part of our funding, are not protected and can be arbitrarily changed.York’s refusal to include the fellowship model in the Collective Agreement is very concerning because it means they can continue to make changes to our funding in whatever ways they want to without us having any say.

Combining Grant-in-Aid and Graduate Financial Assistance

York’s offer brings together Grant-in-Aid (GIA), which is currently received as part of our monthly pay cheques, and the Graduate Financial Assistance (GFA), which is paid out once a semester. The combined payment would be paid out once a semester. The membership should be aware that while this does not decrease the total amounts of funding received, it does significantly decrease the amount of our monthly pay cheque.

Deadlines and Penalties for Late Payments

York has completely refused to discuss setting strict deadlines, with penalties for late payments. This is a huge problem considering that York’s offer ties more of Unit 1 funding up into cheques paid once a semester. There is no accountability in York’s offer to ensure that they will make these payments on time.

Ticketed Course Directorships

The employer is asking to increase courses taught by Unit 1s (“tickets”) to 55. These tickets are poorly remunerated for a lot of work, and take work out of Unit 2.

Unit 2 (Contract Faculty)

Online and Blended Courses

York’s offer would delete the “Letter of Intent” in our Unit 2 Collective Agreement that deals with online courses. This letter includes limits on class sizes for online courses. Removing the letter could open the door to an explosion in the size of online courses.


The employer is proposing only 2 Conversions into tenure-track positions per year. This is a major concession, as there were 8 per year in the previous contract. The Conversions Program has been very successful since 1988 in matching qualified candidates to full-time work and having these candidates achieve tenure. The employer can’t justify their attack on this very successful program.

Rather than offering Conversions and a pathway to a stable career, York is proposing a career counselling program for our members. They are proposing to fund a Career Advancement Program (CAP) out of the Professional Development Fund (PDF). Essentially, the union would be funding a program to train Unit 2 members for jobs that do not exist.This is extremely insulting!

‘Special Renewable Contracts’

York has proposed a modified ‘Special Renewable Contract’ (SRCs) program. This is not the old SRC program and it is doomed to fail. We proposed bringing back the SRC program to give the longest-serving members of Unit 2 access to more stable employment in the York University Faculty Association (YUFA). However, the modified ‘SRC’ program offered by York has terms of employment (higher course load, lower pay, no sabbaticals, difficult to renew) that are not acceptable to the YUFA. Without YUFA’s agreement, this ‘SRC’ program will not exist. And YUFA has been clear that they oppose York’s proposal. York is offering a program that they have no power to implement in order to say that they have made movement on job security. Our members should not be fooled by this.

Continuing Sessional Standing Program

The Continuing Sessional Standing Program (CSSP) was established in our last round of bargaining in 2015. However, its failure to offer any work stability has been disappointing to many members. Improving the CSSP to secure a minimum guarantee of teaching work has been a priority in this round of bargaining. However, York’s offer does nothing to address this or the problem of departments not posting courses through the CSSP. .

Long Service Teaching Appointments

York is not proposing any increase to the number of Long Service Teaching Appointments (LSTAs) per year. They are only proposing 7 per year. We have proposed standard 5 year LSTAs, but York is only proposing that LSTAs could be 3 to 5 year based on departmental discretion. York has not addressed the fact that members can have their LSTA renewals unfairly denied.

Qualifications and Postings

We are proposing to increase the incumbency period (the length of time you are deemed qualified to teach a course after having taught it) for members and asking York to recognize the teaching experience of our high seniority members so that departments can’t mess around with postings language and qualifications to disqualify members. These are non-monetary issues (they do not cost the university any money)! But York has said no to all of this.

Unit 3 (Graduate Assistants)

Graduate Assistant Jobs

The employer has suggested a Graduate Assistant Training (GAT) Fund of $80,000, which would allocate up to $2000 to a Principle Investigator to aid in hiring a Graduate Assistant (GA). This is not a solution to the more than 800 GA jobs that York has eliminated. This elimination was done in part by inflating the costs of GAs by around $6000. Offering faculty members $2000 is not a meaningful offset. For context, York has warned faculty that their changes would make it hard for faculty members’ grants to be approved if they hired GAs.

GAs have access to meaningful employment, including research opportunities, and can access the benefits of union membership such as the childcare fund, trans fund, and can petition for program extensions based on union work and disability grounds.

Combining Grant-in-Aid and Graduate Financial Assistance

York’s offer brings together Grant-in-Aid (GIA), which is currently received as part of our monthly pay cheques, and the Graduate Financial Assistance (GFA), which is paid out once a semester. The combined payment would be paid out once a semester. The membership should be aware that while this does not decrease the total amounts of funding received, it does significantly decrease the amount of our monthly pay cheque.

Increasing Graduate Assistant Funding

Graduate Assistants receive $10,000 per year in funding. The employer refused to discuss an increase.