Report Back – Bargaining with Employer, May 20th and 21st

On Thursday, May 20th and Friday, May 21st, the CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team met with the Employer and conciliators. These meetings mainly focused on Unit 1, Unit 3, and Unit 2 School of Nursing counter proposals.

Unit 1

The Bargaining Team provided counters for Unit 1 proposals on deadlines for contracts and penalties, and on fair distribution and equity hiring for the tickets.

With respect to the Union’s proposal, which asked for paid voluntary training for Teaching Assistants, the Employer’s counterproposal insisted on restricting job training exclusively to first-time TAs. The BT was perplexed by the Employers’ incomprehension on the necessary training required for academic instruction. All academic instructors require continual upgrades in training, especially when shifting and readjusting to online teaching due to the pandemic, irrespective of whether TAs have teaching experience or not.

Unit 3

The Employer has not presented any new counters for Unit 3 since our last meeting on May 5th, including a proposal the Union presented on April 27th on the benefits surcharge that is charged to Principal Investigators. This proposal reduces barriers for hiring a Graduate Assistant (GA). It requires a Principal Investigator (PI) to cover only 15% of the standard benefit rate associated with the hiring of an employee in Unit 3. Currently, the cost to PIs is a four-fold increase of the cost of Unit 3 contracts compared to 2016 levels. We urge the Employer to respond to our proposal.

We spent time with the co-conciliators going over the reasons we rejected the Employer’s counter related to the misclassification of GAs as non-unionized RAs. The Employer continues to violate our collective agreement by posting bargaining unit work as non-unionized RAships. The Employer has an obligation to present us with a counter that addresses this ongoing issue.

We also look forward to the Employer presenting us with a counter on the Graduate Assistant Training Fund (GATF). Through a re-allocation of existing U3 moneys, this fund incentivizes the hiring of GAs by PIs. We need a counterproposal from the Employer that does three things: removes toxic language that limits our Unit 3 scope clause; outlines a transparent fund allocation process; and increases the re-allocation of available resources within the fund.

Unit 2: School of Nursing

The Union sent to the Employer (via the co-conciliators) two proposals specific to the School of Nursing. The first is a counter-proposal on the definition of Clinical Course Director (CCD) which was drafted in consultation with members in the School of Nursing; in the absence of such a definition, CCDs are frequently overworked and otherwise held to unreasonable standards. The second proposal is a Letter of Understanding on concordance, which would protect members’ incumbency rights in case of curriculum changes. We await a response on these proposals from the Employer.

At our May 19 SGMM, the membership approved a provisional timeline that includes plans for a Strike Mandate Vote on July 5, 2021. We expect to see the bargaining process become more expedited in light of that upcoming vote.

Mediated Bargaining on Equity Proposals: May 21

On the evening of May 21st, the BT met with mediator Chris Albertyn to work towards finalizing equity proposals on Articles 5.03 and 12.04. During this session the Bargaining Team conveyed to the mediator our feedback on the potential final versions he compiled in a sidebar during our May 8 mediated bargaining session.

Our comments were focused on Article 5.03, which is an all-units Article that sets out the mandate of the Employment Equity Committee. The Employer initially proposed changes to 5.03 as a place to incorporate language on intersectionality and the data we were requesting; our counter proposals seek to clarify and strengthen how underrepresentation thresholds are understood and measured. Article 12.04 guides the U2 appointments process, and is therefore one of the places in the Collective Agreement where equity needs to be operationalized, in conjunction with seniority and incumbency. The Bargaining Team is still reviewing the mediator’s ideas on Article 12.04.

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.