Letter from the Bargaining Team on the Employer’s Final Offer

Letter from the Bargaining Team on the Employer’s Final Offer

On February 16, CUPE 3903 will vote to decide on whether to accept or reject the final offer presented to us by the Employer on February 15. For the past eight months, we have engaged in rigorous negotiations with the Employer, advocating for meaningful improvements to the collective agreements of Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3. In advance of today’s Joint Executive–Bargaining Team Meeting and Final Offer Special General Membership Meeting, we are additionally providing here a brief, updated comparison of the Employer’s final offer and our proposals in the four priority areas that we discussed in December in the lead-up to our Strike Mandate Vote.

The full, final offer packages for all three units can be found here:

Updated Compensation proposals from February 21st:

You can also view our full proposals chart, which provides a side-by-side comparison of the last version of proposals exchanged by both sides during this round of bargaining. We are in the process of updating the chart with the many proposals exchanged on February 15, so some of these may still need to be reflected in the chart. However, you can view all the individual proposals exchanged during bargaining, including on February 15, in the Bargaining Proposals section of the CUPE 3903 Bargaining 2023 webpage. (Proposals are listed chronologically).

What Disappoints Us About the Employer’s Final Offer?

  1. It Fails to Adequately Address the Cost of Living Crisis

Winning significant improvements to salaries and benefits is a central issue, if not the central issue, in this round of negotiations. Members made that clear in the Bargaining Surveys conducted last summer and at the Red Lines GMM on January 19. Inflation sky-rocketed during the three years of our last collective agreement (2020–23) when the cost of living increased by 15.8%. At the same time, our wage gains were artificially suppressed at 1% per year due to the Ford government’s Bill 124, which has since been found unconstitutional. The cost of everything—food, housing, utilities, medical expenses—has increased dramatically. This is a reality highlighted in our bargaining surveys and, more recently, in the National Post (not usually known for its sympathetic treatment of our Union). We need to secure a better offer to ensure that increases to our salaries and benefits keep ahead of the rising cost of living so that we can afford the necessities of life.

The Employer’s final offer on salaries and benefits falls far short of even our lowest expectations. The retroactive wage offer is well below what other unions in our sector have received and far below what we need to keep pace with inflation. Similarly, we remain far apart on wages for the renewal collective agreement (2023–26). Perhaps even more exasperating are the Employer’s rejection of all 18 of our benefits proposals and its refusal to acknowledge that proposed salary increases should—as they always have in the past—apply to all parts of Unit 1 and Unit 3 remuneration. The Employer’s exclusion of the GFA (Graduate Financial Assistance) from any of the proposed increases and the GIA (Grant-in-Aid) from retroactive increases mean that the Employer’s paltry salary offer is even worse for Units 1 and 3 than it is for Unit 2.

This chart has been updated to match the February 21st wage proposals:

  1. It Fails to Adequately Protect Our Members’ Rights

The Employer opened this round of bargaining with proposals to make it easier to discipline members and harder to file discrimination and harassment grievances. We experienced our first bargaining win when the Employer retracted a discipline proposal that would have made it easier to initiate disciplinary procedures against our members. And, we’ve reached some agreement on proposals to streamline the grievance process and institute (as a pilot project during the life of the renewal collective agreement) a new mediation-arbitration process for Unit 2 appointment grievances. Yet it’s clear that we still need better processes, protections, and supports for all members, especially those facing harassment and discrimination. This is evidenced by the Employer’s growing intransigence in dealing with policy and individual grievances—delaying their timely resolution by pushing them to arbitration—and York University’s recently demonstrated repression of academic freedom and trampling of due process rights

  1. It Ignores Most of Our Job Stability Proposals

The Employer’s final offers provide little to either Unit 2 (contract faculty) or Unit 3 (graduate and research assistants) that addresses our job stability needs. The Employer continues to ignore our Unit 2 job stability proposals. Instead, it offers marginal improvements to the flawed Job Stability Program (JSP) that we have repeatedly told them the membership is not interested in pursuing. (The JSP originated in the failed Job Stability Committee process that emerged from our last round of bargaining.) The Employer responded to neither our proposals to counter the union-busting tactics the Employer has been using to eliminate Unit 3 jobs nor our proposals to address future job losses (in all three units) due to restructuring. And, it has failed to respond to our proposals to prevent the imminent loss of work faced by instructors in the Department of Kinesiology due to arbitrary and egregious changes to job classifications and qualifications language.

  1. It Ignores Our Proposals to Protect and Improve Our Working Conditions

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we teach. New technologies and pedagogies, along with increasing student needs, have increased our workloads. Unfortunately, the employer does not agree and has responded very minimally to the proposals that would most directly impact undergraduate students. Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions!

When and How Will the Final Offer Vote Take Place?

On Friday morning, February 16, the Executive and Bargaining Team are meeting to discuss the Employer’s final offers and decide whether to recommend strike action. Like all BT and Executive meetings, our joint meeting is open to all members of CUPE 3903.

We will take our recommendation to members at the Final Offer Special General Membership Meeting later that afternoon. At this meeting, we’ll present and discuss the Employer’s final offers to the membership. Members will then vote on whether to accept or reject them. Should members reject the offers, we will then discuss and plan our next steps, including striking. In keeping with our local’s practices, the Executive will only call a strike when instructed to do so by a motion from the floor and the vote of the membership. If the membership deems the final offers acceptable, we will then hold a formal ratification vote.

Joint Executive and Bargaining Team Meeting (Online)

February 16, 2024 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, online via Zoom

FINAL OFFER Special General Membership Meeting (Hybrid)

February 16, 2024 @ 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Where: In-person in ACE (Accolade East) 005 or on Zoom

To join us over Zoom, please register in advance for this meeting by clicking on the link above.

What Happens After the Final Offer Vote?

If the membership votes to accept the employer’s offers, they will go to a ratification vote. If ratified, these offers become the new collective agreements for Units 1, 2, and 3. If the membership votes to reject the final offers, members will immediately discuss the next steps, which may include returning to the bargaining table, initiating a strike, initiating other forms of job action, or any combination of these options. To find out more about what a strike could mean, all members are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Strike FAQ 2024.