York University Threatens Lockout Instead of Bargaining for Improvements to Equity

On June 9, 2021, the Employer requested a No Board Report with the Ministry of Labour, which is a legal step either party can use when they are preparing for job action. The Union is disappointed that York University, despite its many communications about maintaining labour peace for the whole community, is preparing to lock out our members. This is the equivalent of a strike, except that it is initiated and enforced by the Employer, not the Union.

This is an offensive move from an employer that paints itself as the reasonable party. York claims its favourite word – impasse – when progress is still being made at the bargaining table. In fact, on Friday, June 4 and Monday June 7, the Employer and Union reached agreement on a priority issue for Unit 1.

Moving towards a lockout on the heels of this sign off shows that there is no impasse, only a lack of willingness to engage in meaningful movement at the bargaining table towards a fair agreement. The Union’s proposals address a range of issues that are designed to ensure equity for all members of units 1, 2, and 3. For example, we need look no further than the latest mediated bargaining session on job security and equity for Unit 2. Despite the Union’s ongoing efforts, the Employer has continued to drag their feet in agreeing on two simple equity proposals. York also stalled in responding to the Continuing Appointments Program (CAP) job security program.

In their letter to the Bargaining Team, the Employer is mobilizing concerns for health and safety for a return to campus in September, which is alarming considering how ill planned this return is. The Union is deeply concerned about the implications of this decision, which is focused on getting enrollment revenues up instead of ensuring the health and safety of all members of the York community. We have highlighted our concerns here.

The next few weeks remain uncertain: after the report is received by the Ministry, there is a 17-day cooling period, during which the parties can continue bargaining. We remain committed to reaching a deal at the bargaining table if at all possible in that time period. It is unfortunate that, despite York’s frequent public commitments to equity, they drag their feet and threaten a lockout instead of bargaining for concrete solutions.

All members are encouraged to attend the June General Membership Meeting this Friday, June 11th (at Noon), which will include time for unit-specific discussions on bargaining and next steps.