Report Back – Bargaining with Employer, June 18th

The Bargaining Team (BT) met with the Employer on June 18th (with conciliators), and June 19th (with Chris Albertyn). While the Employer made slight movement on a few key issues, the discussions continued to be very slow. Given the looming lock out deadline of July 5th initiated by the Employer’s no board request, the Bargaining Team is disappointed to see that the Employer is still dragging out these conversations, but we remain committed to bargaining and reaching a negotiated settlement for all units during the 17-day cooling off period. Members can see the union’s latest proposal package here.

Given the Employer’s aggressive move, it is now more important than ever for us to get a strong strike mandate vote, and show the Employer that we are serious about achieving a strong negotiated agreement for our members, and that they can avoid a lock out by addressing issues at the bargaining table. Please join us at the June 23rd and July 5th SGMMs to discuss the latest developments in bargaining and the strike mandate vote.

Unit 1: Voluntary paid training, deadlines for contracts, and penalties
The Employer moved on our proposal to change the Unit 1 blanket application to include sections for pronouns and preferred names. Even though the Unit 1 members of the BT are happy with the Employer’s latest pass, the Employer’s insistence on including this proposal in their “take all or nothing” proposal packages prevents the parties from achieving a sign off on the issue.

The Employer also moved on the voluntary job proposal by increasing the yearly access to the entire cohort of first-time TAs plus an additional 500 TAs. However, they still insist on capping the hours paid at 5, instead of the total of hours needed to complete the Teaching Commons certificate to be paid, which can change between 5 to 10, depending on the different workshops members choose to attend. The Employer also continues to propose a time-limited Letter of Understanding, instead of a permanent article in the collective agreement.

The BT made significant movement on the Unit 1 contract deadlines proposal by removing the portion about late penalties. However, the Employer’s counter did not address the Union’s concerns around potential misinterpretations around the priority pool access if an offer expires. The BT hopes to reach a sign off on this proposal soon.

Unit 2: Equity for School of Nursing

Increasing equity for our members at the bargaining table is a key priority, including addressing equity concerns in the School of Nursing. Workers within the School of Nursing are often racialized women who are negatively impacted by overwork and unreasonable standards. Support 3903 CCDs by signing our petition: read more about it here. Our proposals reflect workplace issues that both parties were directed to resolve by arbitrator Hayes in 2018. We have indicated to the Employer that bargaining is the most expeditious and cost-effective way to address these issues, and that the Employer’s failure to engage with the majority of our proposals on the School of Nursing will result in further grievances and even in the involvement of the Ministry of Labour.

The Employer also presented us with a counter reviewing new and revised postings. While we are glad to see movement on this important LOU to protect incumbency, at present the Employer’s suggestion fails to actually address the issue we have identified: protecting incumbency. We will continue to work on this issue.

Unit 3: Resisting ongoing union busting
The counters we presented were aimed at reducing barriers to hiring GAs and putting a stop to the ongoing misclassification of GAs as non-unionized RAs. Our GATF counter removes language that undermines the scope of Unit 3, in order to prevent union busting. We also included a transparent process for the distribution of the GAT Fund. This is to prevent further abuses to the fund, such as the $74,000 that was recently misappropriated by the Employer. We also increased the amount (which already exists in the CA) to be moved to the GATF in order to support more graduate students in accessing unionized jobs.

We also presented a counter proposal on the misclassification of GAs as non-unionized RAs, where we proposed that the Union work with a Postings Officer on the Employer side. The Postings Officer will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the classification of positions in order to avoid assigning bargaining unit work outside of the bargaining unit. We urge the Employer to put an end to union busting and to engage with our Unit 3 proposals.

Unit 2: Job Security
On June 19, the BT met with the Employer to discuss Unit 2 job security proposals. The discussion focused on the Transitional Continuing Appointment (TCA). While we are happy that we are getting closer to a sign off on the TCA, the Employer has refused to engage with our Continuing Appointment Program (CAP) proposal. The BT has repeatedly asserted that TCA must be discussed in tandem with other job security programs, creating an overall system of security for members in all levels of seniority and service.

While we remain apart on the severance portion of TCA, the BT is happy to see that the Employer has agreed to our application format, and made movement on course load requirements, increasing their previously proposed cap from 3.0 to 4.0. However, they still insist on offering 3-year TCA appointments at a maximum, despite the significant movement the Union has made by moving down to a 5-year maximum.

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