Bargaining Update: January 8th-16th
Bargaining Preparation for Conciliation
The Bargaining Team (BT) rang in 2024 with a series of meetings to prepare for our first bargaining meeting of the year with the Employer and our first ever meeting with our Conciliator, Erin White. We hope that with the arrival of the conciliator the Employer will start to sign off on significant proposals, such as those addressing the cost of living crisis and equity in hiring.
Red Lines Preparation Meetings: January 8th
The BT’s first meeting was to discuss with the Membership what would count as a “red line” (i.e. an issue over which the union would go on strike). Using the bargaining survey completed by members last year, the BT will suggest to the Membership which proposals should be a priority for bargaining (e.g. wages, job security, equity issues). With the strong Strike Mandate Vote of 84% voting in favour of strike action if necessary, we are confident that we can either make gains on significant proposals at the bargaining table or show the conciliator that the Employer refuses to take these proposals seriously. The Red Lines Special General Membership Meeting will take place on January 19th. You can register for that meeting here.
Special General Membership Meeting: January 12th
At this meeting, the BT reported to the Membership that no progress had been made on monetary proposals at the bargaining table. The Employer countered some of our proposals with the same inadequate offer that they first gave us in late October.
However, the most pressing issue for the BT was to have the Unit 2 Job Stability Package (JSP) approved by the Membership so that this proposal could be presented to the employer at the next bargaining session, or to have the proposal withdrawn. The BT also emphasized that the proposal could not be changed now that we are in conciliation since no changes to existing proposals or new proposals are allowed at this stage of bargaining. The Membership decided to table the motion to approve the JSP because they needed more time to review such a comprehensive proposal.
The Membership approved the Strike Policy which lays out how a strike will be conducted. Once approved, the strike policy allows for the formation of a strike committee which discusses and approves strike strategy for the Membership. Getting this policy approved and the strike committee formed are important steps to prepare for a strike. If the Employer insists on refusing our very reasonable demands, then we are now well on our way to preparing for a strike to win those demands!
Conciliator Preparation Meeting and Palestine: January 15th
At this meeting, we discussed how we would interact with the conciliator, how we would move forward pressuring the Employer to respond to the genocide against the Palestinian people, and how we would ask the Membership for guidance at the Red Lines SGMM. Regarding the conciliator, we discussed whether she should chair the meetings and if we should do “shuttle diplomacy” (where neither the BT nor the employer’s BT meets in the same room, but communicates only through the conciliator). Considering the Employer’s disregard for basic rules of civility during meetings (such as not interrupting and refusing to raise their hand when they want to speak), we decided to wait and see whether the conciliator would want to chair the meetings or not. We also decided not to engage in shuttle diplomacy in this first meeting to gauge the reaction of the conciliator to the Employer’s behaviour.
The BT remains committed to challenging the Employer’s lack of response in the face of the genocide taking place in Palestine. We drafted a Statement on Palestine to show the employer and the Conciliator that genocide is a labour issue, especially since members are being disciplined by the Employer for their support of the Palestinian people. This disciplining has had a chilling effect on the campus as a whole. Moreover, we wanted to show that no one can be silent while genocide is happening.
We continued our discussion of how to present issues to the Membership to help us all understand which issues are strike issues and which are not. The BT decided not to go over individual proposals, but to focus on themes (such as, equity, wages, graduate funding, job security, etc.). A complete chart of our proposals and the Employer’s responses to them can be found here.
Coordinated Pressure on the Employer on Wages Continues
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 January 16th, 3903 and other unions on campus discussed the Employer’s claims that it does not have the money to meet our proposed wage increases despite handing out lavish bonuses to high-level administrators regardless of their performance and on litigation to prevent wage increases for the York University Faculty Association (YUFA). Moreover, while York claims it is broke, they are opening a new medical school and they have over $1 billion in deferred maintenance with many buildings at Keele and Glendon are over the critical threshold so that these buildings are unsafe. York cannot even fix a broken toilet on Glendon’s campus that has been out of order for years. How does the university’s admin expect to increase, or even maintain, enrolment and retention when they show such blatant disregard for their students and employees? All of this mismanagement is more confusing when the Auditor General’s Office (AGO) report states that York is in a sound financial position.
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.