Meet the Candidates for Vice-President Unit 2!

Vice-President Unit 2 is the only contested position in the general elections. Voting will begin at the August 15 General Annual Meeting and continue for five days on both Keele and Glendon campuses at the following polling stations:

Keele Campus (9 am – 5 pm):

  • Vari Hall Link
  • William Small Center

Glendon Campus (11 am – 3 pm):

  • Across from the cafeteria

As Vice-President Unit 2 is a unit-specific position, only members of Unit 2 may vote in this election. Statements for both candidates are available below.

Neil Braganza

Dear unit 2 members,

My name is Neil Braganza and I am running for the position of Vice President (Unit 2). Here is a little about myself and how I would approach the position if elected. (Please see page 12 of our bylaws for the description of the position.)

I became involved with the union during the strike of 2000 as a unit 1 member and was quite active for about five years after that, serving on the executive committee for a couple of years (as chief steward and recording secretary). Since then, I’ve gotten involved only during bargaining and strikes. I am well informed about our collective agreements and policies.

The future of our union depends on whether the social justice culture at York will survive in York’s governance structures. It is therefore crucial that we work with student and union groups on campus to promote our values in the Senate and Faculty Councils, and in any other forum where we can give our input. As Vice President (Unit 2), I want to develop strategies and support for those who are in the position to make progressive interventions in these venues. I want to ensure that our vision of a better York becomes part of the conversation at every opportunity: a York with job security, a York that adequately supports those who work and teach at the university, a York committed to equity and social justice.

To that end, I am particularly eager to be involved in the Cross-Campus Alliance and to develop close ties with that project. As a venue for progressive groups on campus to organize and strategize together, the Cross-Campus Alliance can play a vital role in keeping York University connected to its social justice roots and in bringing people together in support of a more caring and conscientious institution. I am also committed to maintaining good relations and clear communication with other unions on campus, such as YUFA, YUSA, CUPE 1356, and with the YFS and GSA.

The future of our union is also tied to the struggle against precarious work in and beyond the broader labour movement. The recent strike proved that no matter how well organized and mobilized we are, we cannot defend our sector-leading contracts alone. We faced an employer who was shockingly willing to absorb the financial losses of cancelling the summer term rather than settle with us at a fraction of the cost, and we faced two provincial governments who had no problem with permitting and facilitating such pointless waste. Against such odds, our only option is to join the broader movement against precarious work and help create a different norm for labour in Ontario. Though this is a long-term goal, we must approach it with a sense of urgency.

It is therefore important that CUPE 3903 explore every opportunity to support the struggle against precarious work in our society. This means being active in labour councils (CUPE Toronto District Council, the Toronto & York Regional Labour Council), CUPE conventions and other labour conferences. It also means supporting anti-poverty organizing in our city. As Vice-President (Unit 2), I would work with delegates to ensure that they have the research and resources they need to be effective in these contexts. I would also organize more extensive skill and information sharing between our delegates and our stewards and activists so that more people can get involved.

Finally, as Vice President (Unit 2) my priority would be to facilitate the work of the Labour- Management Committee and the numerous other committees (like the Extended Health Benefits, All-University Pensions, Research Grants & Travel Costs, etc.) upon which our members depend. I will maintain clear lines of communication with these committees, and act fast to respond to any problems and replace any vacancies. I want to make it as easy as possible for these committees to be as effective as possible in serving the needs of the membership. I am particularly interested to work with the Postings Officers to defend members against arbitrary changes to qualifications language.

Other Commitments

I wish to make three more commitments as candidate for Vice President (unit 2).

1. Electronic voting

Being a strong believer in the importance of face-to-face meetings, I have been skeptical of e-voting over the years, but the recent strike has convinced me that e-voting is necessary for the health of our union. Instituting e-voting would permit greater member influence and it would ensure that we don’t move forward with major proposals that are out of step with members’ wishes. Having a system to quickly and reliably get direction from the membership will make us stronger and it would ease tensions during difficult times.

2. Improving GMMs.

I would do a few things to improve GMMs.

  • In my view, the more we can resolve controversial issues before a GMM, the better. As an executive member I would commit to briefing my unit 2 colleagues in advance of possible controversies in an upcoming GMM by outlining what the issues are, who the issues may affect, what the debates at the GMM may involve, and what bylaw or policy issues may be relevant. If more people are informed of the issues in advance and there are fewer surprises, the debates may be healthier or more productive. This would also allow members to make a more informed decision about whether they would like to attend the meeting. On big issues I think we should supplement GMMs with call-in town halls.
  • I would work with the executive committee to ensure that proper groundwork is in place – notice, information, orientation – before the meeting and at the meeting to increase the chances that everything will run smoothly and efficiently.
  • I will be very hands on to make sure our meetings are accessible.

3. Unity with the other units.

I firmly believe that all units of CUPE 3903 are stronger together. As a unit 2 representative on the executive committee, I will work to ensure that cooperation across all units is healthy and democratic. In my view, implementing e-voting and taking tge steps outlined above to ensure that GMMs are more productive will make our cooperation work for all.

Sharon Davidson

I am running for the position of VP for Unit 2 because:

  • I want to continue to build strong alliances between
    other employee groups and student organizations on
    campus through the Cross-Campus Alliance
  • Unit 2 is not a homogeneous unit and all voices in the unit deserve to be heard and represented within our union
  • What happens between bargaining rounds is just as important to our collective agreement rights; we have to work diligently to ensure that our collective agreement is administered in ways that do not undermine what we have obtained over many years
  • I want to continue to build on connections with organizations such as Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee (OUWCC) within Cupe as a way to address the issues of precarity for contract sessional workers

I will continue to be a strong advocate for Unit 2 members and want more Unit 2 townhalls on a range of issues to ensure that all members in the unit are heard. I have
many years of experience on Labour-Management Committee as its co-chair and will work closely with elected representatives of all units and other executive officers to ensure that we use this committee as a vehicle for the administration of our rights.

I ask for your support in the Cupe 3903 executive elections. Voting begins at the Annual General Membership Meeting on August 15th, 11 :30-2:30, Lassonde A and continues for five days in Varil Hall link.