Report Back – Bargaining with the Employer, April 27

On Tuesday, April 27, the CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team held the first conciliation meeting with the co-conciliators Hanane Benzidane and Greg Long. We would like to thank members in the room for attending as observers, as per our open bargaining practice.

Since 2016, the Employer has been on a ruthless union busting campaign targeting Unit 3 that resulted in the loss of over 800 Unit 3 jobs. On April 27, the BT presented three Unit 3 specific proposals that address the ongoing issues that have resulted in the decimation of the unit. Members can see the Union’s latest proposal package which includes these Unit 3 counters here.

1) The misclassification of Graduate Assistants (GA) as non-unionized Research Assistants (RA)

The Employer continues to violate our collective agreement by posting bargaining unit work as non-unionized RAships. Our proposal clearly outlines the criteria for the hiring of GAs and holds the Employer responsible for following this criteria. We are also asking the Employer to pay a penalty of $5000 to the Union’s Ways and Means fund for every GAship that is misclassified as an RAship.

2) Returning the benefits surcharge to pre-2016 levels for Unit 3 contracts

Prior to 2016, a Principal Investigator (PI) hiring a GA would have to cover 15% of the standard benefit rate associated with the hiring of an employee into a Unit 3 position, while the Employer covered the rest. In 2016, the Employer unilaterally decided to deviate from past practice that had existed since 2007 and increased the portion paid by PIs to 85% in an effort to discourage faculty from hiring Unit 3 members. This resulted in a four-fold increase of the cost of Unit 3 contracts, and a significant decrease in GA hires. The Union proposes to return to the costing practices as they were carried out prior to 2016.

3) Shared oversight of the Graduate Assistant Training Fund (GATF)

In 2018, Arbitrator Hayes awarded Unit 3 an $80,000 fund to incentivize the hiring of GAs by giving PIs $2000 per GA hired. Currently, the Employer has sole oversight of GATF, which resulted in the misappropriation of at least $74,000 when these funds were granted to faculty who did not hire GAs. To ensure that funds are accountably managed, we are proposing that a union representative be present during  the allocation process. In the same proposal, we are also proposing to reallocate $160,000 from the Unit 3 Graduate Assistant Bursary Fund into the GATF to increase the fund to $240,000, as well as increasing the individual allocation per PI from $2000 to $5000. 

Our proposals aim to reduce barriers to hiring a GA, and to address the ongoing misclassification of GAs as RAs. The prolonged and aggressive campaign of union-busting concerns every member of CUPE 3903. 

Next Meetings

Members are encouraged to join us for our upcoming bargaining meetings with the Employer. Dates and exact times of all meetings can be found on our calendar here. Please register in advance. After your registration is approved, 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.