Bargaining Team Report for the week of November 27 to December 1 

CUPE 3903 Moves into Conciliation and Looks Ahead to the SMV, as Bargaining Team Unpacks Employer’s ‘Schedule C’

Bargaining Team Report for the week of November 27 to December 1 

On November 30th, the Bargaining Team (BT) for Units 1, 2, and 3 met with the employer. In addition to asking questions about the employer’s proposals and new job postings within Kinesiology, the employer also presented several proposals. Following from our first bargaining victory, where the employer backed down from their discipline proposal, the last bargaining meeting saw the employer agreeing to some proposals to extend incumbency for member-designed courses and language to provide unit 3 members with offers of appointment. Otherwise, the changes to ‘Schedule C’ were not substantial. Finally, with the start of December, we are now officially in Conciliation, and after that we will be moving towards our Strike Mandate Vote; to support each other and your bargaining team to get the best possible deal, vote YES on the Strike Mandate.

Supporting PKIN Instructors Facing Restructuring

The Employer first announced plans to restructure Practicum Kinesiology courses (PKINs) into what they are calling Integrated Physical Activity for Life (IPAL) courses in Fall of last year. Since then, we have been pushing them to learn more about these changes that could result in most if not all PKIN instructors–some of whom have been teaching at York for decades–losing their jobs. 

On November 17, we presented four bargaining proposals to cover, a) classification of work; b) language to deem long-standing PKIN instructors qualified to teach IPALs; c) course releases to allow Unit 2 members to go on leave to update their credentials; and d) compensation for work lost due to restructuring. These last two proposals were written to apply to all Unit 2 members, as PKINs are not the only ones facing restructuring; the situation at Glendon could also cause major job losses. The Employer has yet to respond to these proposals.  We also gave the Employer notice of estoppel, which means we are asserting that, going forward, PKIN instructors should properly be recognized as doing Course Director work based on a strict reading of the Collective Agreement, regardless of past practice. 

In March 2023, CUPE 3903 put the Employer on notice that we would grieve all IPAL postings that were classified as “lab demonstrators”. Yet, the postings the Employer provided last week, after months of requests, do just that. People who teach IPALs are clearly Team Lecturers, as they are solely responsible for student contact hours and therefore have principal responsibility for the presentation of the course. Additionally, the postings confirmed that massive job losses are planned: the long list of required qualifications proposed by the Employer would require virtually all current PKIN instructors to either go out and upskill quite dramatically or be shut out of work, due to inflation of qualifications. Most senior PKIN instructors do not have Master’s degrees but are highly qualified in teaching movement-based activity, as they’ve done for decades. We also reminded the Employer that our proposals offer compromises to address this. It would be to our mutual benefit to hash out this issue at the bargaining table rather than to spend years grieving every IPAL posting, as the Union has promised to do. 

Housekeeping Changes for Units 1 and 3

The employer has suggested a series of changes to the Graduate Financial Assistance (GFA) language, including removing historical numbers that clutter the article, and replacing the term “visa students” with “paying international tuition fees” to make it clear that the higher GFA amount is for those who pay the higher fees, regardless of visa status. 

Employer Responds to Unit 3 appointments proposal

The employer has accepted the Unit 3 proposal requiring that Graduate Assistants receive an official offer of appointment, similar to the one U1 members receive. These official offers will help clarify pay and other logistics that have often not clearly been spelled out to prospective GAs in the past. This a win for Unit 3!

Employer Makes Some Movement on Incumbency for Member-Designed Courses

Our proposal to increase the incumbency period for Unit 2 members who design a new course received some positive uptake from the Employer. We are particularly pleased to be able to get some movement on a proposal that came directly from rank-and-file members. So far, the Employer has accepted our longer time frame during which the course designer would be the incumbent candidate but has not moved on the number of times a member would get to teach their newly designed course again. We will keep pushing on this and other proposals that matter to members!

Employer Rejects the GJSP, Returns to the JSP

Though we presented the Graduated Job Security Program (GJSP) to the Employer on November 24, what we got in response was a return to the JSP. Unit 2 members do much of the undergraduate teaching at York for a fraction of the pay and none of the job security of tenured faculty. The Union has worked to provide stability through various programs, most recently by being part of a joint committee called the Job Stability Program (JSP) that resulted from the 2020–23 bargaining round. When members were presented with the result of two years of work, they were not convinced that the union’s version of the JSP (which is much better than what the Employer has now tabled) would adequately address existing problems with precarious employment. 

It is in that context that the bargaining team got approval from the membership to bring forward a series of proposals that would considerably improve the predictability and stability of work for Unit 2 members: the GJSP. Instead of engaging with our proposal, the Employer reverted back to its last offer at the failed joint Job Stability Committee, with some minor improvements  but no movement on issues that the Union previously told the Employer were most crucial, such as eligibility based on both Type 1 (course director)  and Type 2 (tutor) work, and a guaranteed course load of 3.0 full course equivalencies. 

On December 8, there will be a virtual Unit 2 Town Hall (from 11:30 to 2:30) to strategize next steps and counter-proposals. Please register in advance here

Continuing to Take a Stand on Solidarity with Palestinians and Safety on Campus

Once again, the 3903 bargaining team spoke at the table about solidarity with Palestinians (and students and faculty who exercise their freedom of expression to criticize Israel’s siege on Gaza). It is relevant to make such a statement in the context of labour relations because of the effects of the siege on Gaza and the October 7 attacks on members of the University community, to call out how the University has censured students and faculty for their criticisms of the Israeli state and military, in response to the implications of administrative reprisals for the safety of racialized members and their allies, to heed the plea to not engage in “business as usual” while there’s a genocide in the making. For all these reasons, we see the bargaining team as having a responsibility to press the University to defend its employees and students and their right to free expression. Instead, the Employer is making a very worrying choice—to “weaponize” the notion of safety, as it was characterized at the November 28 walkout, and otherwise to resort to the same old strategies of encouraging people to call on security after the fact, even though the increased presence of security guards can make racialized and trans members less safe. 

Conciliation: Moving toward a Legal Strike Position

The 3903 bargaining team is continuing to move the process along according to the timeline that has been presented to and approved by the membership. Having presented a full proposals package, having been in bargaining for almost six months, and with the Union and the Employer still quite far apart on major issues, we have filed for conciliation, the next step in our fight for the best possible deal for all members. Conciliation is a process by which the Ministry of Labour appoints a conciliation officer who meets with the Union and the Employer to help them reach a collective agreement. In addition to providing support to the Bargaining Team, conciliation moves us one step closer to a legal strike position.

Give Your Bargaining Team a Strong Strike Mandate: Vote YES, Dec. 11–18

We have a crucial opportunity to show the Employer the collective power of our membership by voting YES in the upcoming strike mandate vote (SMV) that will take place December 11–18. Voting YES  gives the Executive Committee a mandate to call a strike, if necessary. A strong YES vote also gives the Bargaining Team more leverage at the bargaining table to win concessions from the Employer. You can join the mobilization efforts for this vote by signing up for phone banking and departmental events where members can talk to each other about what’s on the table and how we can fight for it. 

Once we have a strike mandate, we’ll hold a “Red Lines” GMM at which the membership can determine the key items we are willing to strike for. No decision to go on strike will be taken without another vote of the full membership. Such a vote will take place, if necessary, at a “Final Offer” Special General Membership Meeting to be held if and when bargaining reaches an impasse. 

Get Involved! Upcoming Bargaining Meetings

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 both our weekly Bargaining Team meetings, which take place online, and our meetings with the Employer, which usually take place in a hybrid format. As members of CUPE 3903, you are free to come and go from any of our meetings as your schedules allow. Check the CUPE 3903 website’s calendar for any updates.

Bargaining Meetings with the Employer

Due to scheduling issues, all December bargaining meetings with the Employer are taking place online only. Register in advance using the links below.

Monday, December 11, 3:00–5:00 PM

Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.

Wednesday, December 13, 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.

Thursday, December 14, 10:00 AM–12:00 PM

Register for the Zoom meeting in advance..

Tuesday, December 19, 10:00 AM–3:00 PM

Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.

Bargaining Team Meetings:

Wednesday, December 6, 11:00 AM–1:00 PM 

Tuesday, December 12, 1:00–3:00 PM 

Monday, December 18, 1:00–3:00 PM