Report Back – Seventh Bargaining Meeting with the Employer on December 22 (11am)

On Tuesday, December 22nd, the CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team met with the Employer. The Bargaining Team would like to thank members in the room for attending as observers, as per our open bargaining practice.

The objective of the meeting was to respond to questions the Employer raised about our proposal package on December 17th. The following issues were addressed.

Bill 124
The Employer and the Union differ in how we understand the scope and impact of Bill 124. The Union has put forward several proposals that include financial penalties for late offers of appointment, late pay, and misclassification of GAs as RAs, as well as caps on workload for TAs, CDs, and CCDs, all of which the Employer interprets as compensation increases, which would then interact with the 1% ceiling imposed by Bill 124. Since members of 3903 are not paid by the student, the bargaining team does not believe that capping class size is an increase in compensation, and thus, proposals on capping class size should not be subject to Bill 124. The Employer has alluded to a communication laying out their application of this legislation which should be forthcoming in January, at which point the Union will be able to respond more completely.

Job Stability
The CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team elaborated on the Albertyn model for long-service appointments and severance, and briefly on other job stability programs. The Employer reiterated that they prefer to discuss job stability as part of a future joint committee. We emphasized that we are ready to discuss concrete proposals now, rather than at some later date, and that the Albertyn proposal already emerges from robust consultation. We reminded the Employer that a commitment to greater job security in Unit 2 dates back more than 20 years and that the bargaining table can and ought to be the space to work through the particulars of such programs.

Equity and Seniority
In response to the Employer’s question about “the math” regarding CUPE 3903’s equity hiring proposals, members of the Bargaining Team laid out the disparity between the current makeup of Unit 2 and the demographics of the GTA. The Employer expressed support for equity in theory but raised concerns with the implementation of our equity proposals, especially how they would interact with existing seniority provisions. We highlighted how members of employment equity-seeking groups are frequently passed over for appointments despite the strength of their qualifications, and thus have not been able to accumulate seniority at the same rate as their colleagues. In this context we understand our equity proposals to challenge implicit bias and level the playing field, thus strengthening and expanding seniority. The bargaining team will continue to look at how to ensure that seniority and equity can complement each other in the CAs.

Unit 1 members of the Bargaining Team addressed the inequities in the current distribution of teaching tickets, and explained the proposal for a more intersectional approach in hiring for these opportunities.

Unit 3
The employer raised the issue of scope when speaking to the union’s proposal to implement a letter of understanding to address the ongoing misclassification of research assistantship positions which should be classified correctly as graduate assistant positions. This proposal is within the scope of the bargaining parameters for unit 3 as it will support the appropriate classification of graduate assistant positions. Our proposal is mutually beneficial as it prevents classification errors that prove costly to the employer and hinder the creation of unit 3 jobs. The Union is open to other measures to protect unit 3 jobs and looks forward to continuing this conversation with the employer.

 Employer’s Proposals
At the outset of the meeting, the Employer indicated they were prepared to present some of their own proposals, but after caucusing briefly they returned and said they would hold off until January. The CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team looks forward to receiving concrete proposals in the interest of moving the bargaining process forward expeditiously.

Next Meetings
The Employer promised to share their availability for January meeting dates by December 23. Once we have settled on dates, they will be shared with the membership.