Report Back: Mediated Weekend Bargaining Sessions with Chris Albertyn (February 20th and 21st)

February 14: Preliminary meeting with Chris Albertyn

At the bargaining meeting on January 22, the Employer and the Bargaining Team agreed that the parties could discuss Unit 2 job security provisions during intensive weekend bargaining sessions, facilitated by mediator Chris Albertyn. CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team met with Mr. Albertyn on February 14 for a preliminary meeting. Read the report back here.

February 20: First day of mediated bargaining

Chris Albertyn met with the Employer early in the day, and then with the Union in the afternoon. When the Employer joined us, they presented four proposals

  1. Their first proposal committed that half of the conversion recommendations outlined in Article 23 go to BIPOC members. 
  2. Their second proposal, the Continuing Appointment Program (CAP), was introduced as a job security program, and would allow eligible members of Unit 2 to apply for three-year contracts. 
  3. Their third proposal was a Letter of Understanding on the so-called Transitional Continuing Appointment (TCA), which would allow eligible members to apply for a three-year path to retirement and severance package during the life of the Collective Agreement. However, the Employer indicated that they were not yet ready to provide us with a severance proposal for the longest-serving members of 3903. 
  4. Their final proposal, which they marked “for discussion,” was on equity provisions around appointments, and would amend Article 12.04 to give BIPOC applicants priority among the pool of candidates with preferred and required qualifications.

Union caucus elaborated on the many concerns raised by the Employer’s proposals to Chris Albertyn. Much of the conversation focused on how limited the CAP proposal is in terms of providing actual job security to our members. Rather, it reproduces many of the limitations of the CSSP and LSTA: 

  1. The program would not be mandatory for hiring units;
  2. The eligibility criteria are excessive;
  3. There are many circumstances in which members who qualify for the program can later be dropped out of it, including “departmental inability to offer work”;
  4. Minimal payouts for falling short of the guarantee fail to disincentivize hiring units from doing so. 

The Union also identified significant issues with the Employer’s proposed equity hiring language, which would allow hiring units to override seniority, which makes it counterproductive in the context of mediated bargaining on job security. After hearing the Union’s concerns, Chris Albertyn advised us to prepare our response for presentation the following day.

February 21: Second day of mediated bargaining

The Bargaining Team met at 11am to discuss the Employer’s proposals from the previous day. We decided to reject two proposals (Continuing Appointment Program [CAP], and Transitional Continuing Appointment [TCA]) and to respond with counters on the remaining two (Affirmative Action [AA] and Equity Hiring [EE]). 

Our reasons for rejecting the CAP and TCA were multiple: 

  1. They are concessionary–meaning that, if these programs were accepted, they would represent losses from the current CA provisions. The concessions in the CAP are particularly apparent given the Employer’s stated intention for it to replace the LSTAs and the SRCs.
  2. They do not provide our members with any guarantee of work or real job security. This is again particularly the case with the CAP. The Employer indicated that while 206 members would be eligible for the program as designed, the lack of concrete commitment makes it such that there could be zero appointments made under the program.
  3. Both proposals are missing many of the crucial elements of our job security proposals, such as equity provisions. 
  4. The TCA is not continuous, there is no right to the program for eligible members, and its severance is very low. 

Further, those two proposals were inserted into the process by the Employer, rather than responding to our Albertyn Appointment job security proposal, where we have articulated several key areas that are important for providing continuous and concrete job security for our longest serving members. While the remaining two proposals are quite far from where we need them to be, they are actual counters to our proposals, and have a structure we believe we can work with.

At 12pm, we met with Chris Albertyn and expressed our positions (see points under a. above). Shortly thereafter, the Employer joined and heard from the BT their reasons for rejecting the proposals on CAI and TCA. Chris Albertyn then suggested a short caucus between members of the Employer’s BT, and the Unit 2 members of the 3903 BT and staff to lay out a plan on next steps, including the following week’s mediated bargaining sessions.

During this caucus, it was agreed that:

  1. The BT would counter the Employer’s proposal on Affirmative Action Program to make it more in line with Union’s original proposal on Affirmative Action/Conversion language. 
  2. The BT would also take back the Employer’s proposal on Equity Hiring to clarify the relationship between equity provisions and seniority.
  3. There was compatibility between the Employer’s TCA proposal and the CUPE 3903 proposals on the Albertyn appointments and post-retirement benefits. The Employer indicated their intention to rework their proposal around this compatibility. The BT indicated that we would also work on a counter proposal, and bring it to next weekend’s mediation session.
  4. The discussion on the Employer’s CAI proposal will be shelved for now to focus on the other job security measures, as suggested by Chris Albertyn.

The mediated bargaining sessions will continue the next weekend, on February 27. Members are encouraged to join us as observers, as per our open bargaining practice. The meeting calendar and the registration information can be found here. Please register in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to join the meeting.

Members can also get in touch with the Bargaining Team for questions and comments.