Bargaining Team Report February 15–16, 2024

Bargaining Team Report February 15–16, 2024

Nothing New from Employer’s Final Offer

The bargaining meeting with the Employer and conciliator on February 15 began with the
Conciliator informing us that the Employer would not be making a new wage offer. Since our last bargaining meeting, the Ontario Superior Court denied the government’s appeal of Bill 124. This decision confirmed that it was unconstitutional to deny public-sector workers their right to collective bargaining and to limit us to a 1% increase per year during a time of record inflation.

Bargaining the rest of that day was eerily normal, with the Employer demonstrating none of the
urgency we expected given that this was potentially their last chance to avert a strike.  Rather
than negotiating late into the night, as happened during bargaining in 2020–21, bargaining
ended on schedule at 5 PM.

Proposals Exchanged But Little Progress Made

Both sides exchanged counter-proposals on previously discussed items. We did reach some
agreement on new Unit 2 language to provide members with seniority credit for participation in departmental and other university committees. Moreover,  we agreed to add a clarifying
definition of a day to all three collective agreements. But, we saw no new offers on the most significant issues, including salaries and benefits and job security. The Employer rejected Unit 3’s proposals to increase the GATF and to settle an outstanding grievance on the Employer’s admitted mismanagement of the GATF by paying an extra $50,000 into the fund and apologizing for its mismanagement.  Although they don’t dispute that they mismanaged the GATF, they described themselves as “insulted” by our proposals. None of this is surprising, given the Employer’s ongoing attempt to eliminate all Unit 3 jobs. The Employer also rebuffed our equity proposals to extend paid caregiver and adoption leaves.

At the end of the day, the updated “Comprehensive Framework for Settlement” documents
that the Employer provided to Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3 were not substantially different from
the previous “comprehensive framework” documents we have already seen from the Employer. As we outlined in a Letter from the Bargaining team that evening, the two sides remain far apart on fundamental issues.

Final Offer Special General Membership Meeting (SGMM)

On the morning of February 16, the Bargaining Team and Executive Committee met and voted unanimously to recommend that members reject the “final offer.” Later that day, at the most well attended membership meeting  we’ve had in years, the Bargaining Team briefly reviewed the details of the Employers final offer, illustrating how far apart CUPE 3903 and the Employer are on all our red-line issues (wages, benefits, job stability, and equity).  The Bargaining Team fielded questions on the offer, and a lengthy debate was held on whether to accept it. Although the debate centered around the Employer’s final offer, many members, particularly several international students, expressed understandable worries about the impact of a potential strike and a possible repeat of our lengthy strike of 2018. Both the Bargaining Team and Executive heard these concerns and subsequently scheduled an additional Strike Q&A session on Thursday, February 22, from 2:00–4:00 p.m.

Despite technical problems that delayed the start of the meeting and voting on the Employer’s
offer, the nearly 600 votes cast clearly backed the Bargaining Team’s position. 

Strike Vote Postponed

The lengthy technical delays meant that the meeting was extended well beyond the scheduled end time, so the membership decided to put off a decision to call a strike until an Emergency Special General Membership Meeting on Friday,  February 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. All votes will take place in the meeting, without the use of outside programs, which should avoid a repeat of Friday’s lengthy delays. Since all registrations for our GMMs have to be manually verified before individual invitation links to the meeting can be sent out, please register in advance (well in advance!).

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 of this week, in-person bargaining meetings with the Employer will be held at Ministry of Labour offices downtown at 400 University Ave., which is a fully accessible location close to St. Patrick subway station. 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 or changes.

Bargaining Meetings with the Employer (advance registration required ):

Wednesday, February 21, 10:00 AM–5:00 PM: Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.
Friday, February 23, 1:00–5:00 PM: Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.
Monday, February 26, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM: Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.
Wednesday, February 28, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM: Register for the Zoom meeting in advance.

For all bargaining meetings with the Employer, CART closed captioning will be available. If you
require ASL interpretation or reimbursement for childcare/caregiver/attendant care or have
any other requests for accommodation, please contact our Equity Officer, Nadia Kanani, at

Bargaining Team Meetings (no registration required):

Tuesday, February 20, 1:00–3:00 PM:

Thursday, February 22, 1:00–3:00 PM: