On Tuesday, April 17, the CUPE 3903 bargaining team met for a second time with Bill Kaplan, the Commissioner appointed by the Ministry of Labour to investigate the strike. Kaplan continued in his efforts to mediate between the parties.
While we are happy to report that the employer agreed to an increase of $25 per course on Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER) for contract faculty, beginning retroactively in Fall 2017, this is minimal progress. The employer has refused to move on any other significant proposal, most notably by completely rejecting our updated offer on Unit 2 job security proposals tabled on Sunday April 15. York has not modified their position on these proposals in a meaningful way since late February, despite receiving counter-proposals from the union on three different occasions.
The bargaining team also asked the employer to discuss Unit 3 proposals, as there has not been an opportunity to do so since February 28. The signal from the employer was that they are neither interested in bargaining nor discussing any outstanding issue.
The CUPE 3903 bargaining team is very disappointed that the employer is refusing to discuss our bargaining priorities. We are collaborating fully with the Commissioner, including making movement on our proposals in the last meeting. The employer needs to do the same in order for this process to be meaningful.
We are frankly baffled by the claim that “York is also disappointed that CUPE 3903 rejected our invitation to provide a back-to-work protocol, which is a necessary part of any renewed settlement”. We will provide such a protocol once York engages in bargaining, and therefore our return to work seems imminent. York’s own communications admit that they are refusing to bargain. It is also worth noting that the employer claimed on April 1 that no written back-to-work protocol was necessary while advocating for their forced ratification vote, yet now it is “a necessary part” of a deal.
We will attempt mediation again on Friday April 20. We maintain that the union is flexible and willing to bargain, but we need to see some real movement from York. If the Commissioner judges that mediation fails, he will meet again with the bargaining team to begin preparing his report to the Minister of Labour.