Letter to President Lenton: York Needs to Bargain

On April 11, 2018, our Chairperson sent a letter to President Rhonda Lenton in response to her latest missive. In sum, we continue to await the university’s return to the bargaining table. Read the letter here, or in full-text below.

Dear President Lenton:

Earlier this week, our membership sent a clear message to your administration that York University’s current offer of settlement remains unacceptable. The offer members were forced to vote upon was not substantially different from the one members rejected on March 2, just prior to strike action commencing.

While we share your assessment that significant differences remain between our positions, we cannot help but wonder why your administration and legal advisors have repeatedly failed to take the steps necessary to bridge the divide between our respective positions.

Of particular note in your correspondence is your stated desire for the parties to “take a new approach,” by agreeing to binding arbitration. York has repeatedly called for the parties to agree to this and this latest appeal to do so raises an important question. It has been CUPE 3903’s understanding that substantial withdrawal of most of the outstanding issues, save and except one or two key issues for each affected unit, would be a precondition of moving the dispute to binding arbitration. Can you confirm that this remains the case, or has York’s position now changed with respect to this, is the University administration now calling for all outstanding issues to be sent to interest arbitration?

As a matter of general principle, arbitration should only be considered as a last resort when the parties have exhausted all possible efforts to resolve their outstanding issues through negotiation.

Over the past six weeks, CUPE 3903 has repeatedly asked York to come back to the table to negotiate. Each time we have done so, York’s response has been to move the goalposts. In virtually every instance, our bargaining team has been told to further modify or pare down our proposals, with no reciprocity on the part of the Employer. Since this strike began, York has refused to engage in substantive negotiations to resolve our outstanding issues.

It is our belief that at this time, York University has failed to make the necessary efforts to resolve the outstanding issue between the parties to justify a move to binding arbitration.

We therefore ask that York University agree to meet our Bargaining Team at the earliest possible time, with a goal of negotiating through all of the outstanding issues between the parties. York University must make a meaningful, good faith effort towards the resolution of the issues that have led to this strike before the Bargaining Team can consider arbitration as an option.

As they have since the strike began, our Bargaining Team is available to meet with your representatives and the Provincially-appointed Mediator. We urge you, for the sake of our students, to join us in making every possible effort to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible.

We await your reply.

Devin Lefebvre, Chairperson
CUPE 3903