Bargaining Team Report for the week of March 3 to 10, 2024

BT Responds to Employer Mediation-Arbitration Proposal with “Focused Package”

Bargaining Team Report for the week of March 3 to 10, 2024

On March 7, the Employer sent new proposals to us. The new proposals arrived as the Bargaining Team was preparing to present its focused proposals package to the membership at the General Membership Meeting that same afternoon. Following a robust discussion on multi-unit and unit-specific proposals, the membership voted to approve the streamlined package in order to move bargaining forward while holding firm to our wage demands and other redline proposals. The Bargaining Team sent this focused package to the Employer and government-appointed Conciliator on March 9. 

Employer Sends Med-Arb Proposal as Membership Approves “Focused Package”

On March 7, 2024, the Employer shared with the Bargaining Team a “Memorandum of Agreement” for a proposal to pursue a mediation process for the Bill 124 moderation period (which included a deadline of 4:30 PM on March 11). That same day, the CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team presented a “focused package” of all-unit and unit-specific proposals to the membership at the SGMM, all of which the membership approved. On March 9, the Bargaining Team sent our focused proposal package to both the Employer and the government-appointed Conciliator. 

In our communications with the Employer and Conciliator, we indicated the following: 

“We will continue to consider any new elements in the Employer’s latest pass, but our present package can be understood as a response to the Employer’s proposed without prejudice mediation process and March 11 deadline.”

“While we are pleased with the Employer’s willingness to re-engage in negotiation with us, neither we nor our members are interested in pursuing the proposed mediation-arbitration process. Instead, we are presenting the Employer with the attached streamlined, reduced proposals package that members approved on March 7. While members voted against moving on wages, we’ve dropped or substantially lowered our demands on other monetary proposals, particularly union funds and benefits.”

Historically and in the past practice of CUPE 3903, the best collective agreements are those that are negotiated via bargaining between the Employer and the Union. Overwhelmingly, the practice of mediation-arbitration favours the Employer. The CUPE 3903 bargaining team is confident that we can negotiate the best collective agreement for the membership in bargaining and we aim to do this.

Currently, we await a response from the Employer. The Bargaining Team is meeting tomorrow (March 12) to review the package that the Employer presented to us on March 7; we will again report to the membership on March 14 at the next SGMM to summarize key details from this package. We thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Union Busting on Full Display with Police Assault on Sentinel; Unions Stand Together 

On March 4, the CUPE 3903’s soft picket line on Sentinel Road was shut down by the Toronto Police Service. The union has picketed on Sentinel Road for the last 20 years and the events of March 4 constitute a violation of our constitutionally protected right to picket. 

We were heartened by the swift action and support from CUPE National and CUPE Ontario, along with OPSEU, in showing up on March 6 at our “Right to Strike” Rally. An attack on our right to picket on Sentinel poses a dangerous precedent for strike action at York University and across the sector. As OPSEU notes in their statement, “The arrest of striking workers is unjust; it undermines the ability to collectively bargain, and it is an attack on the very essence of democracy.” We appreciate the solidarity we are receiving, and echo the words of Mark Hancock, CUPE’s national president: “Our key message to police here and everywhere is don’t interfere with our rights. There’s a storm coming. Workers are standing up and saying we need more; our families need more.”

What’s Next?

As we noted above, the Bargaining Team has presented the new focused proposal package to the Conciliator and has requested the Employer to come back to the table. We urge the Employer to condemn violence against its students and employees and bargain in good faith moving forward. 

As we wait for the Employer to accept our invitation back to the bargaining table, we will provide as much notice as possible when this happens. 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. Members are encouraged to attend both our Bargaining Team meetings, which take place online, and our meetings with the Employer, which usually take place in a hybrid format.

Join us at our next Bargaining Team Preparatory Meeting on March 12 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM to discuss the latest developments in bargaining for Units 1, 2, and 3, and strategize the next steps. All members are welcome!

Please also mark your calendar for the following important meetings being hosted by members of the Bargaining Team:

All International students are welcome to a recurring International Student Q&A to get to know your Union. The next one takes place on Sunday, March 17 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. Do you have questions about the strike, questions about strike pay, or questions about the hardship fund? We can help. We also want to make this into an e-social, so please—all International students—do attend. We are your Union! Let’s get to know each other.

We are also hosting a Teaching Assistant / Graduate Assistant Q&A for Unit 1 and Unit 3 members on March 13 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM to take questions about the bargaining process, how striking works, and your rights during a strike, as well as to address and discuss bargaining priorities moving forward. 

Finally, the bargaining team will continue to be out on the picket line with you! If you see us, ask us questions about bargaining, chat with us about the strike, and get to know us better. We’re looking forward to meeting you all! 

Don’t forget to register in advance for the upcoming Strike Special General Membership Meeting on March 14, 2024, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Members are also welcome to participate in twice-weekly Strike Committee Meetings, including Tuesday, March 12 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM and Friday, March 15, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.

Keep an eye on for all the latest events and meetings.