Bargaining Team Report Back for Week of July 31

On second full day of bargaining, Employer continues to prioritize extending their reach

On August 1, the CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team joined the Employer at the table for a second full day of bargaining. In the additional all-units proposals we received from the Employer, we are continuing to see a concerning trend of expanding management rights while eroding protections for members. More specifically, proposed changes to Articles 4, 6, and 8 of the collective agreement seem to introduce or amplify ways to surveille and discipline members, while seeking to remove language that gives members agency about processes relating to complaints of sexual or gender-based harassment. These attempts to use our collective agreements against us are unacceptable. The Employer’s approach on this topic runs directly counter to the bargaining team’s commitment to protecting members’ rights to due process, such as choice about the approach taken in complaints and grievances, and appropriate timelines for reporting and hearing grievances. We are encouraged by the Employer’s apparent interest in removing delays to grievances, though this cannot be done at the expense of members’ rights.

Seeking clarity on Unit 3 funds

We opened with a series of clarifying questions about the cost of U3 Graduate Assistantships, as the numbers provided by the Employer do not match with our understanding.  Though we had indicated our intention to raise questions about Unit 3, the member of the Employer’s team from the Faculty of Graduate Studies was not  present. The Employer is taking away the questions we raised for further discussion in the near future, when we will continue to get clarity for this unit.

Diverging proposals are exchanged on the grievance-related articles

Towards the end of our morning session, the Employer presented additional all-units proposals to Article 6 (grievance process), for the most part to introduce a 2-step grievance process, as well as to name members as both complainants and respondents. They also proposed changes to Article 4 (Sexual, Gender and Gender Identity Harassment, and Racial and Ethnic Harassment), where they are proposing to formalize the approach they are currently taking of directing grievances into complaints. More specifically, the Employer wants to remove language of ‘grievance’ from Article 4, which would both reduce protections offered to members through  the grievance process, and subject us to policies we have had no hand in drafting. We asked them to clarify what problem these changes were meant to address, but did not receive a clear response. We indicated to them in particular our concern about changes to 4.03.6, where they propose to strike language that gives complainants control and choice over how the Employer uses information relating to sexual and/or gender harassment. We signalled to the Employer that striking such language moves in a troubling direction and away from the kind of trauma-informed approach that is recognized as necessary for minimizing harm to survivors.

Another importance of 4.03.6 as it stands now, but which the Employer indicated that they wanted to change, is that it offers complainants the ability to choose a path other than disciplining the accused person, thus moving away from a carceral approach. The Employer responded that they believe our respective intents are not so different, and they are committed to a good process.

In the afternoon, we presented our two proposals related to streamlining the grievance process, in order to address grievances that are piling up. Our proposed mediation-arbitration process would speed up certain types of grievances, especially appointment grievances that we all want to see resolved before the start of term. We included carve-outs for human rights, discrimination, and harassment cases, where longer timelines may be more appropriate and necessary to ensure a good process. The Union envisions this proposal as creating an additional tool to add to the grievance process, to save both sides from needless cascading grievances.

Second, the Union proposes to add to the disciplinary process a provision to 8.01.1 that will require the employer to provide, prior to the first meeting, any and all supporting documents that provide the evidentiary basis of the Article 8 process, again in the interests of protecting and informing members.

Employer introduces proposals to expand their disciplinary powers

In another concerning move, the Employer is proposing changes to Article 8 (Discipline). Where currently the language is of ‘complaint,’ the Employer wants to replace that language with a new category of ‘complaint/concern’. The language changes would mean that a formal complaint need not be in place for a chair to request a meeting with a member. We asked a number of questions about the nebulous language of ‘complaint/concern,’ seeking to understand what would initiate such a meeting if there was no formal complaint or evidence. We were unable to get a clear picture of what a ‘concern’ (or a ‘complaint/concern’) might be as distinct from a complaint, which leaves the impression that the Employer’s Article 8 proposals are designed to increase management powers to surveille employees and could potentially have a chilling effect on academic freedom.

Bargaining team continues to develop their communications strategy

After the meeting with the Employer had concluded, the bargaining team had a productive discussion in which we identified the new themes and priorities we see emerging from the bargaining surveys as well as the proposals we’ve been developing. Stay tuned to the website for more on these priorities!

Get Involved: Upcoming SGMM and Bargaining Meetings with the Employer

Upcoming August 10 SGMM, noon to 3:00pm

We are hosting a Special General Membership Meeting via Zoom! At this meeting, we will be presenting new proposals to the membership, as well as bringing an update on where we’re at with the Job Stability Joint Committee. Your input is very much needed!

  • August 10, 12:00pm – 3:00pm

Please register in advance for this meeting here. In order to register, you will need to provide your employee number, which will be kept confidential. Your employee number is on your monthly pay stub. If you don’t know your employee number, please click here for instructions.

Upcoming Bargaining Meetings with the Employer

CUPE 3903 is committed to open bargaining, which means all members are welcome to attend bargaining meetings (either in person or via Zoom). The in-person location for these meetings with the Employer is 519 Kaneff Tower on the Keele Campus; see below for details about accessibility. Here are the next few meetings with the employer (also shared on 3903’s website’s calendar):

Thursday, August 17, 2:00 to 5:00pm

Tuesday, August 29 from 10:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00 to 5:00pm

Thursday, August 31 from 10:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00 to 5:00pm

There is a one-hour break between noon and 1:00 pm 

Upcoming Bargaining Team Meetings (3903 and staff only)

As always, we encourage members to participate in our regular bi-weekly bargaining team meetings (without the Employer), all on Zoom. Here are the next few bargaining team meetings (also shared on 3903’s website’s calendar):

Tuesday, August 8, 02:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 10, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. 

Thursday, August 17, 1:00 – 2:00pm

Tuesday, August 22, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 24, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

Tuesday, August 29, 9:00 – 10am

Thursday, August 31, 9:00 – 10am

Accessibility of Bargaining Meetings 

For the regular twice-weekly bargaining team meetings, Zoom captions will be enabled. For the bargaining meetings with the Employer, CART will be available. If you require ASL interpretation or reimbursement for childcare/caregiver/attendant care or have any other requests for accommodation, please contact our Equity Officer, Nadia Kanani, at

Due to the high demand for ASL interpreters, we encourage members to provide, when possible, two weeks’ notice if ASL interpretation is required.

Kaneff 519, the location for 3903 bargaining on August 1, has some interior doors that are not power assisted. If you require support with any doors, please email the 3903 Equity Officer ( to let us know when you will be arriving, so that someone can come out to meet you at the elevator on the 5th floor. All gender, single user, accessible washrooms are located on the same floor. Masking in the meeting room is encouraged.