Graduated Job Stability Program FAQ

What is the GJSP?

The GJSP, Graduated Job Stabiity Program, is a 2023 bargaining proposal created in hopes that it would considerably improve the predictability and stability of work for Unit 2 members

Click here to read the plain language proposal.

When did the proposal get approved?

At the November 22 Emergency Special General Membership Meeting Unit 2 members overwhelmingly approved the Graduated Job Stability Program (GJSP) proposal that the Bargaining Team presented.

Where did the GJSP come from?

At the end of nearly three years of trying to negotiate a comprehensive job stability program with the Employer, first at the bargaining table in 2020–21 and then in the Joint Job Stability Committee that emerged out of that round of bargaining, on November 14th Unit 2 members rejected the latest CUPE 3903 version of the job stability program that had emerged from the Joint Job Stability Committee process.

The GJSP represents the Bargaining Team’s attempt both to respond to the message we received from members on November 14th —“We can do better”—and to respond to the urgency of moving the bargaining process for all three unions of our local along to its next steps. The CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team and staff developed the GJSP proposal by drawing on the diligent work done by many Unit 2 members over many years. That is, it both builds on and improves existing provisions of our Collective Agreement negotiated over numerous bargaining rounds and incorporates and consolidates some of the more ambitious job stability proposals that our Union has presented, but not achieved, over the last several rounds of bargaining.

How will GJSP impact seniority?

Seniority has long been a fundamental principle in collective bargaining agreements, providing those who have been employed the longest with additional benefits, notably some degree of job security. The GJSP does not propose any changes to how seniority is measured or accumulated; it does look to complement the benefits of seniority with greater job stability overall. Under the GJSP, the Employer would have greater discretion in hiring in order to fulfil minimum guarantees of work, but members would continue to enjoy the existing advantages of seniority in supplementing their guaranteed workload. This is consistent with the approach taken by our existing job security programs like the Continuing Sessional Standing Program (CSSP) and the Long Service Teaching Appointment (LSTA) program.

How does seniority work at York?

In the context of academic precarity in which we work, seniority offers even less protection than it would in a workplace characterised by continuous employment, and its meaning and value are actually quite uncertain. In our Union local, seniority is measured by the number of full courses you’ve taught, or their equivalents (including tutor positions), not the length of your service. Those fortunate enough to teach at a high intensity (four or more courses per year, for example) can quickly acquire significant seniority points, while those teaching at relatively low intensity take much longer to build up any significant seniority. The real problem for much of our membership is less that they have low seniority and more that they chronically teach at a low intensity, usually not by choice. Seniority and teaching intensity are often related, but they are not the same.

The precarious nature of our work means that for Unit 2 members, seniority doesn’t actually equal job security, even for those with high seniority. It provides no guarantee that you can maintain the course load you’ve been working at, nor does it even guarantee that you can hold on to a specific course If a hiring unit decides to no longer offer a course you’ve been teaching—or decides to not offer all the courses you’ve been teaching, no matter how long you’ve been teaching them—seniority does not, by itself, guarantee that you will be able to replace the lost work or earn a liveable wage.

What is the GJSP effect on teaching loads?

In the context in which we are bargaining and designing new job stability programs, there is some seemingly inevitable trade-off between guaranteed workload, and the ability to choose what courses we teach (to the extent that any of us enjoy this ability). This is a tradeoff we already make in our existing job security programs: the CSSP and LSTAs already take work out of the regular hiring stream. In the LSTA program, the hiring unit must fulfil guaranteed workloads—–incumbency is a consideration, but the guarantee of work takes priority. In the CSSP, hiring units can post courses for the CSSP pool earlier than in the regular hiring process. Currently, members may grieve an appointment made under the CSSP based on seniority; we anticipate that this will remain the case under the GJSP.

The goal of the GJSP is to provide more security to more people–but we are seeking to accomplish this within the reality of long standing precarity. Under the GJSP, a much broader swath of the membership would benefit from a guaranteed minimum course load. Once members have achieved a certain average intensity, the program would effectively provide a guaranteed teaching intensity, or a floor, below which they would not fall. The GJSP also envisions a kind of progress through the ranks so that these minimums increase as your average teaching intensity increases.

What about low-intensity members?

Although the GJSP tries to address some of the biggest holes in our existing programs, we acknowledge it still doesn’t capture all members—especially the large number of members who teach less than two full courses, or their equivalents. These members have never really been served by the job stability programs we’ve been able to negotiate. In part for this reason, we are proposing that the Conversion program, under which members apply to be hired as (or converted to) tenure-stream faculty within YUFA, be opened up to all members of the bargaining unit. Despite its limitations, the GJSP would mean a broadening of the focus of our Union’s job security programs beyond the small minority of members teaching at high intensity who are currently the only ones to benefit from the limited job stability protections in our Collective Agreement. The GJSP provides greater guarantees of job stability to those high seniority members through CSA level 3 and to lower and medium seniority members through CSA levels 1 and 2.

What’s so good about the GJSP?

We want to emphasize the importance of bargaining this as a comprehensive program that addresses members of various seniority levels. Historically, as noted above, our unit has invested much of its bargaining power in trying to achieve programs for high seniority, high intensity members. This has created a situation in which job security is not a right that is available to most members but rather a privilege to be earned only for those teaching at the highest levels of intensity over at least several years. The GJSP moves us toward improved and expanded job stability for contract faculty at York. It improves upon existing programs in our Collective Agreement (CSSP, LSTAs, SRCs, Conversions, and Severance) and combines them into a comprehensive, graduated program designed to offer a level of job security that even members who are supposed to be covered by these existing programs often do not enjoy.

What are some of the challenges with bargaining the GJSP?

Like the existing programs it would replace, the GJSP is not perfect and doesn’t go as far as we might like. Even with its shortcomings, this proposed program will inevitably run up against the brick wall of our Employer’s intransigence and unwillingness to provide even a modicum of reasonable employment stability to all but a few members of Unit 2. What emerges from the bargaining process will, in all likelihood, look very different than our current proposal.  We assure you that we will keep members informed of developments at the bargaining table, including progress in negotiating for increased job stability for Unit 2 members.

How can I get involved and share my thoughts?

In keeping with this local’s tradition of open bargaining, we welcome and actively seek your input and feedback; our Bargaining Team meetings remain open to all members to attend, as do our bargaining sessions with the Employer.

Since the GJSP was presented in bargaining, the Employer has failed to engage with any part of the proposal. CUPE 3903 is a member-driven local, and all proposals are drafted and brought to the table with the guidance and approval of membership. It is time, once again, to hear from Unit 2 on how to move forward with Job Stability Proposals this round of bargaining.