Update On Meeting with Arbitrator

On Saturday, November 3, the CUPE 3903 bargaining team and the union’s legal counsel attended an arbitration hearing led by Jim Hayes to present submissions regarding collective agreements for Units 1, 2, and 3. Several members were in attendance.

The union’s legal counsel presented the outstanding proposals for all three units, providing justifications supported by budget data and comparisons to similar contracts.

Not every issue got the same level of attention, as the arbitrator was also provided with lengthy written submissions. Some of the highlights include:

  • An increase of CUPE 3903 Benefit Funds
  • A strong argument that the Sexual Violence Survivor’s Fund should be controlled by the Trans Feminist Action Caucus (TFAC), using examples from York’s own Sexual Violence Policy to argue that York’s legal obligations prevent them from being truly survivor-centric.
  • The Lee Wiggins Childcare Center’s need for a funding increase in order to continue providing childcare to members and other parents on campus.
  • Clawback protections and other changes to Unit 1 funding that would clarify how much York can take from members’ scholarships
  • The need for improvements to the existing job security programs for Unit 2. The arbitrator seemed especially interested to note that a large portion of Unit 2 is affected under the Continuing Sessional Standing Program. There was also a detailed discussion of the historical success of the conversions program in the context of York’s current tenure-track hiring plan.
  • The removal of barriers preventing the hiring of Graduate Assistants (GAs) in Unit 3 (there were over 800 GAs in 2015; now there are 16 as a result of the fellowship funding model).

After breaking for lunch, the employer’s lawyer, Simon Mortimer, presented York’s submissions. The day ended with time for the union’s response and questions from the arbitrator. The employer’s arguments remain largely unchanged from their position during the strike and the months of bargaining that preceded it. Mortimer took a very aggressive tone from the start and made several statements that ranged from simply wrong to baffling, for example mischaracterizing provisions of the CA or stating that the university is not in the business of funding research. Compared with the collected and evidence-based approach of the union’s legal counsel, we can only hope that the arbitrator will see that our position is reasonable and achievable.

Prior to Saturday’s meeting, the arbitrator had the opportunity to brief with legal counsel for both the union and the employer. Though a second day had been tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 4, the arbitrator felt he had fully received the required information. Mr. Hayes indicated that his decision, and therefore the collective agreements for Units 1, 2, and 3, would come before the end of the year. We will update the membership once we get more information.