Bargaining Team Report for the week of December 11-15

BT Urges Employer to Sign Off on Agreed-To Items, Counters on Wages in Coordination with Other Unions

Bargaining Team Report for the week of December 11-15

CUPE 3903’s Strike Mandate Vote gave the Bargaining Team (BT) a busy week, with two SGMMs in addition to three meetings with the Employer and our weekly BT prep meeting. At the two SGMMs, the BT presented to the membership on some of the many reasons to vote “yes” on the strike mandate. A strong strike mandate gives us leverage for gains on key issues: keeping up with the cost of living; protecting our rights to fair and equitable grievance processes; ensuring resources for members who experience racialized discrimination, harassment, and violence on the job; advancing job stability; and managing workload at both ends — in relation to overwork, and loss of work due to restructuring. In meetings with the Employer, we countered on our retroactive wage demands (in coordination with four other unions on campus), initiated the process of signing off on agreed-to proposals, and rejected the omnibus style of the Employer’s unilaterally initiated “Framework for Settlement.” The BT continued to seek clarification on aspects of the Employer’s “Schedule C” (non-monetary proposal package) and Unit 3 presented a counterproposal on funding sources. 

Coordinated Pressure for Retroactive Wage Increases

From 2020 to 2023, Bill 124 imposed an unconstitutional 1% per year cap on wages at the same time that we witnessed a steep 15.8% rise in the cost of living. For the past several months, CUPE 3903 has been organizing with other unions on campus to work collectively for retroactive wage increases. Our coordination with the all-unions Cross-Campus Alliance (CCA) has successfully pressured the Employer to present monetary counterproposals sooner than they otherwise would have. But it still took the Employer two months to deliver this inadequate proposal on Oct. 27, which falls well short of addressing past and present levels of inflation. 

On Dec. 11, we presented a counterproposal (along with YUFA, YUSA, OHFA, and CUPE 1356) to retroactively increase wages by 4% per year (in addition to the previous 1% per year increases), paid out as a lump sum to all those who were members during any part of the Bill 124 three-year moderation period. These are the increases required to keep pace with inflation; anything less entails a concessionary loss of real wages. We are holding firm on our wage increase demands for the next collective agreement: 7% per year for 2023-24 and 2024-25, 5% for 2025-26 (and indexed to CPI going forward). 

Signing Off on Agreed-To Items, Rejecting Unilateral Frameworks

On Oct. 27, the Employer presented a “Framework for Settlement” with three sections: Schedule A (retroactive wage increases), Schedule B (monetary proposals for the next collective agreement), and Schedule C (an empty placeholder for non-monetary proposals). The Employer has slowly added to their “comprehensive” Schedule C, with proposals and counterproposals presented on Nov. 24 and Nov. 30. In their preamble to Schedule C, they included the following language: “agreement to all proposals in this Comprehensive Framework, including Schedules ‘A’ and ‘B’, is subject to agreement to all items that will be contained in Schedule ‘C.’” In other words, the Employer is trying to tie agreement on monetary items to agreement upon non-monetary items. We reject this approach that seeks to do an end-run around collective bargaining.

Despite the “all or nothing” language, there is nothing “comprehensive” about the Employer’s packages. They fail to engage with most of our proposals on graduate funding, job stability, class sizes, and workload. Moreover, we are concerned that the employer’s approach in their framework for settlement introduces unnecessary and unilateral barriers to our ability to conclude discussion on agreed-to items. Because the Employer’s framework says we have to agree to everything before we can agree to anything, it introduces an obstacle to moving forward. 

On Dec. 13, the BT initiated the long-established process around agreed-to items by presenting a counterproposal on Article 12.9 and indicating that we were ready to sign off on it. The Employer’s initial response was contradictory: they said they considered the item “agreed-to” but stopped short of agreeing to sign off on it, suggesting instead that there should be a new ‘Schedule D’ where agreed-to items would be parked while bargaining continues. Members of the BT pushed back against the Employer’s lack of clarity, which prompted the Employer to change course and send us a sign-off form the following day with the statement that a sign off “signifies that [an] item is resolved and agreed to and need not be further addressed.” From our perspective, this sentiment renders null and void the “all or nothing” aspect of the Employer’s framework since signing off on agreed-to items means that they would no longer be subject to negotiations and would become part of the Memorandum of Settlement, and ultimately part of the renewal Collective Agreement. 

Counterproposals and Clarifying Employer’s Schedule C

On Dec. 11, the Employer presented a counterproposal on the Ways and Means and Professional Development funds that aligns with the union’s understanding of what the base amounts of these funds are that should be automatically carried over into the next collective agreement. This had previously been a source of disagreement (see reports from week of September 18 and week of September 25). 

On Dec. 14, the Unit 3 members of the BT presented a counterproposal on Articles 10 and 15. The main goal of the counterproposal is to make sources of funding for Unit 3 members more clear and to require that postings clearly identify the financial value of a contract (including wages, Grant-in-Aid, and Graduate Financial Assistance). In the counterproposal, the union has suggested dates on offers of appointments for Graduate Assistantships, and we have included a proposal to prioritize the hiring of qualified Master’s students for said positions. 

Throughout the three meetings with the Employer, the BT sought clarification from the Employer on varying aspects of their Schedule C (non-monetary proposals), including questions from Unit 1 on graduate funding. 

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 shorter meetings this month, all December bargaining meetings with the Employer are taking place online only. Register in advance using the links below.

Tuesday, December 19, 1:00 PM–3:00 PM

Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.

Bargaining Team Meetings:

Tuesday, December 19, 10:00 AM–12:00 PM

Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.