Bargaining Team Report: Week of November 06, 2023

Bargaining Team Report: Week of November 06, 2023

As the Union clears its Proposals’ deck, the Employer further delays Countering

Following a busy GMM on October 31, the Bargaining Team (BT) had a large volume of proposals to present to the Employer at our meeting on November 7. An updated–and nearly final–proposal package is available online. Because the Employer did not prioritize reaching agreement on a new, comprehensive job stability program for Unit 2 members at the final meeting of the Job Stability Committee (JSC) on November 2, at this late stage in bargaining we now need to address job stability at the bargaining table. After hearing our November 7 proposals, the Employer is delaying the presentation of their “Schedule C,” the incomplete portion of their October 27 proposal package that would address non-wage items. The Employer’s package originally stated that they would present Schedule C on November 7 despite the uncertainty of what would unfold at the JSC on November 2.By the end of the October 27 meeting, they indicated we could expect a comprehensive response on November 17. And then at the November 7 meeting, they announced this would no longer be the case. We await for the Employer to finally provide us with Schedule C at our upcoming November 24 bargaining meeting. Please read below for a fuller update on the November 7 bargaining meeting.

Finally, we have a vacancy on the Bargaining Team for a representative from Unit 1. The nomination period is open until November 17. Please consider putting your name forward!

Unit 1 and Unit 2

At our November 7 bargaining meeting, the 3903 team presented the employer with Unit 1 (Teaching Assistants) proposals to increase fellowship amounts consistent with the wage increase proposals. These proposals would ensure that both domestic and international students benefit from the fellowship increase equally. In the last few years, the real value of our funding packages has decreased drastically due to inflation and the rapidly increasing cost of living, and it’s high time the employer puts genuine effort into fairly compensating intellectual and research work performed by graduate students on campus. 

As well, we proposed essential changes to the priority pool language to ensure that members are not penalized by funding clawbacks for receiving financial awards. We also exchanged other proposals on Workload, Academic Freedom, and Intellectual Property with the employer. 

We also shared proposals addressing issues of overwork, such as by lowering class size caps for foundation courses. These proposals not only benefit Contract Faculty (Unit 2) and Teaching Assistants (Unit 1) but will also improve the quality of education by increasing one-on-one learning opportunities within undergraduate classrooms.

Health Benefits

At the table, the 3903 bargaining team introduced a second round of proposals to add Sunlife coverage of medical devices, hearing aids, and diagnostic tests not covered under OHIP/UHIP. These proposals respond to our membership’s needs (as reflected in Extended Health Benefits usage data) and also seek to match our collective agreement benefits with improvements seen in other public sector unions in recent years.

We also pushed the Employer to begin automatic enrollment for new employees (and re-enrollment for members whose previous coverage has expired) for our dental, vision, drug and paramedical services plans. The current manual process of enrollment is inefficient and obsolete and inevitably results in new and returning members going uninsured for long periods. 

Equity Proposals

The Bargaining team introduced proposals that will extend a range of support and services to racialized members who may have experienced discrimination, harassment, and violence. These proposals are designed from the point of view of centering and taking seriously the voices of racialized members. We asked the Employer to (1) provide a fund of $50,000 to support racialized members to receive immediate and tangible support if and when they experience discrimination, harassment, and violence and (2) to agree to provide accommodations when such cases arise to ensure appropriate measures are taken to support said members. We also noted that these proposals provide members the opportunity to self-determine the nature of support they require. It is the responsibility of the Employer to provide necessary accommodations and funds for racialized employees, especially as they have made commitments to Decolonization, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DEDI) and to better support racialized members. In light of these publicly stated commitments, we look forward to the employer engaging in both of these interrelated proposals seriously and meaningfully. The 3903 BT also proposed the creation of a Joint Workplace Accommodations Committee that would, in collaboration with the Employer, receive and make recommendations on policy and practice regarding workplace accommodations including, but not limited to, medical/disability accommodations, family status accommodations, and religious accommodations. The Employer would be required to consult the committee on changes being considered to workplace accommodations policies and practices and the Employer’s Disability Support Program.

Job Stability Committee (JSC) update

After over two years of trying to reach an agreement with the Employer through the Joint Job Stability Committee (JSC) the Union has lost faith in the process. With considerable misgivings, at the end of our 2020–2021 contract negotiations we agreed to the creation of the JSC to reach an agreement on a comprehensive job stability program for Unit 2. The JSC is now more than a year past its original deadline agreed to by both parties. The 3903 membership has shown good will and patience in trying this approach, and was willing to allow one final meeting of the JSC, which was then scheduled for November 2. Our growing frustration with the process was unfortunately confirmed just a few hours into our session that was mediated by Chris Albertyn, when the employer said that because of other commitments, they did not have the people on their side to continue negotiating. We asked if they would be willing to return to the table later that evening; they declined. Despite considerable progress toward the creation of a new job stability program (JSP), and despite 3903 members of the JSC having ideas about how to proceed, the larger joint committee is at an impasse on key issues such as the criteria for entry into the program, the minimum teaching load for those in the program, and how long it will take to fully implement the program. After the November 2 meeting, the Union floated the idea of going into arbitration on these issues as a way to resolve the impasse, but the University has since refused that idea. Join our upcoming SGMM on Tuesday November 14 as we make important decisions on the path forward for ensuring that our Unit 2 Contract Faculty members receive the long overdue job stability they deserve. As one of the most precarious employee groups within an increasingly privatized education sector, we deserve a JSP that ensures guaranteed work as well as pathways to dignified retirement for all Contract Faculty.

Unit 3 Grievance Update 

Unit 3, representing the Graduate Assistants (GAs) at York University, met with the Employer on October 31, to discuss the grievance filed by the Union over the Employer’s grievous violation of our collective agreement. Through two consecutive rounds of bargaining covering our previous two collective agreements, York University has acted in bad faith by concealing the true cost to hiring units and principle investigators of hiring Graduate Assistants and, consequently, improperly administering the Graduate Assistant Training Fund (GATF). We continue to push for a decent settlement from the employer on this matter. It is important to note here that the Employer can in fact find a solution for its many mistakes by meaningfully engaging with—and agreeing to—the Unit 3 proposals we have placed on the bargaining table. 

Get Involved! Upcoming Bargaining Meetings

We are close to entering the conciliation stage of bargaining! Get involved in this critical stage of identifying our “red lines” (that is, key demands we are willing to strike over) and preparing for a strike mandate vote.

Our union practices open bargaining, meaning all meetings of the Bargaining Team—including our face-to-face meetings with the Employer’s bargaining team—are open to all members of CUPE 3903. All members are encouraged to attend bargaining meetings (the regular weekly meetings and our meetings with the Employer). As members of CUPE 3903, you are free to come and go from our meetings with the ER as your schedules allow.

Check the CUPE 3903 website’s calendar for any updates. 

Bargaining Meetings with the Employer

With the exception of November 30, this month’s bargaining meetings are taking place in a hybrid format. Join us in person in Kaneff Tower 519 (located just east of York Lanes) or online via Zoom by registering in advance using the links below.

Friday Nov 17 – 10AM-5PM 

Friday Nov 24 – 10AM-5PM 

Thursday Nov 30 – 1PM-5PM  (Online) 

Bargaining Team Meetings

Nov 20, 2023 1:00–3:00 PM 

Nov 27, 2023 1:00–3:00 PM 

Upcoming 3903 Bargaining Special General Membership Meeting

We encourage members to participate in the SGMM on Bargaining, which are now HYBRID!  (For Zoom participation, you need to register in advance), in person: Location TBA.  Here’s the link to join the next bargaining team meeting (also shared on 3903’s website’s calendar):

Tuesday Nov.14, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Register here! 

Upcoming 3903 GMM

We encourage members to participate in the GMM, which as part of our bargaining process will obviously have updates about bargaining, but which also includes general union business, and which are now HYBRID!  (For Zoom participation, you need to register in advance), in person: Location TBA.  Here’s the link to join the next bargaining team meeting (also shared on 3903’s website’s calendar):

Friday Dec. 1, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., 

 Register here!

Upcoming 3903 Bargaining Team and 3903 EXEC Meeting

As always, we encourage members to participate in our regular bargaining team meetings with 3903 EXEC (without the Employer). Here’s the link to join the next bargaining team/EXEC meeting (also shared on 3903’s website’s calendar):

Tuesday Nov. 21, 3:00-6:00 p.m.