Bargaining Team Report on the Focused Proposals Package

Bargaining Team Report on the Focused Proposals Package

March 7, 2024

General Background

This past Sunday, March 3, members of the 3903 Bargaining Team met with Erinn White, the government-appointed conciliator. We emphasized the movement that we made at the table just before the strike started (a sign off and some counterproposals that the Employer has yet to respond to), noting that these are just some of the ways the Employer is stalling and refusing to bargain.

The Bargaining Team has been working hard to put together a comprehensive counteroffer to try to restart bargaining. Since our last General Membership Meeting on February 29, 2024, we’ve reviewed all the proposals to come up with focused packages on all-units and unit-specific proposals. Our method in the review has been to consider which of our proposals will benefit the most members; which of our proposals will benefit the most marginalized members in units 1, 2, and 3; which proposals represent what members have identified as red lines; where we have been seeing movement at the bargaining table; and where there has been no engagement from the Employer. We have streamlined and pared down our proposals package to include mostly high and medium priority proposals and/or proposals on which we have already had some movement from the Employer toward the Union’s position.

At the March 7 SGMM, we will be presenting a focused package for members’ approval. To make the package more comprehensible for members, we’ve prepared tables listing all of our remaining proposals in side-by-side comparison with the Employer’s responses: CUPE 3903 Proposals 2023–24 (simplified, by Unit)

Our new package consists of four sections, each of which we will be asking the membership to vote on: all-units proposals, Unit 1 proposals, Unit 2 proposals, and Unit 3 proposals. We are standing firm on some proposals, we are adjusting our asks on some proposals, and we are deciding that we have taken other proposals as far as we can for this round. Members can vote to approve the proposal packages as they currently stand or bring amendments to modify the content of the proposal packages. Once we have that approval from members, we will present it to the Employer through the Conciliator on Friday, March 8. 

All Units Proposals 

The All-Units Proposals section comprises all-units proposals on

  • Wages, benefits, funds, 
  • New supports and accommodations for members experiencing racial harassment, discrimination, and violence,
  • Other equity proposals

We have dropped or reduced many of our demands, including monetary demands. We have, for instance, dropped demands for significant increases to some Union funds (those that have comfortable and growing surpluses, including the SASSF and Trans Fund), accepted the Employer’s offer of a 1% yearly increase for the Professional Development and Equity Funds, and lowered or dropped some of our benefits demands( dropped automatic enrollment and addition of coverage for medical devices). 

In the all-units section of this package, you’ll see that we have not proposed any movement on wages. We have not proposed any movement because we understand wages are a top priority for members and therefore we need input from the membership to direct our wage strategy. 

There are many points of agreement across the 3903 Bargaining Team on wage strategy: (1) we do not think we should not move on our retroactive wages, which aim to address the unconstitutional effects of Bill 124; (2) we do not think we should not move on the eligibility for retroactive wages: all members who worked during the 2020-2023 collective agreement should be eligible for these retroactive increases, regardless of whether they currently have a contract. Where we have differing opinions and recommendations on the Bargaining Team is on the question of wages for the renewal Collective Agreement. In that case, there’s a difference of strategy about whether to reduce our ask, and whether this is the right moment to make such a move. This difference is a strategic question about timing and how we pressure the Employer to return to the bargaining table; it is not a disagreement about what wage increases the membership needs or deserves. 

Unit 1 Proposals

In speaking to members on the picket lines and at the Unit 1/Unit 3 Q&A session on March 5, many Unit 1 members expressed the need to hold firm for the time being on our current wage proposals (an all-units strategy question that will be decided upon by the whole membership). In turn, Unit 1 BT members have developed a focused proposal package to re-engage the employer by trimming down the number of Unit 1 proposals to make our monetary demands more viable. The Unit 1 members of the BT are attempting to prioritize proposals that generate the greatest benefit for the most members (such as wages and graduate funding) while also seeking protections for our marginalized members (such as international students). 

The Unit 1 membership identified wages and graduate funding as top priorities in the bargaining surveys conducted over the summer and in subsequent general membership meetings. Wages and graduate funding were unconstitutionally capped by Bill 124; hence, we are seeking significant increases — both retroactive and for the renewal collective agreement. We are proposing increases to the York Graduate Fellowship for international students to offset the exorbitantly high tuition fees they pay.

For the sake of reducing the size of our proposal package and focusing our monetary demands around priority areas (such as wages and graduate funding), Unit 1 is withdrawing the following proposals:

  • Article 15.15 – Increase the Research Costs Fund (#49)
  • Article 15.18 – Increase the Masters Bursary Fund (#50)
  • Rename and re-structure Article 10 (#65 and #68)
  • Article 12.03 – Ensure that accepting certain awards does not remove members from priority pool or bargaining unit (#70)
  • Article 14 – Include “mode of delivery” as part of academic freedom; give members right to determine mode of delivery (#71)
  • Article 15 – Flesh out intellectual property section to provide examples of “other creative output”

We are also amending our proposal (#51) on the York Fellowship (U1 Letter of Agreement “Additional Funding for Priority Pool Members”). We have withdrawn the aspects of the proposal that demand increases for the fellowship for domestic students. We have withdrawn the aspects of the proposal that increase the threshold at which “clawbacks” come into effect. We are still demanding an increase to the fellowship for international students to raise it up to $10,000 and we are still demanding that PhD 6 members of the priority pool be eligible for the fellowship. 

Unit 2 Proposals

The streamlined package of proposals specific to unit 2 is, based on what members have identified, and conversations amongst staff and BT members. Countering the JSP as offered by the employer has been named by members of U2 as one of the most substantial reasons we are striking. Accordingly, the new streamlined package includes our own ‘status quo’ proposals (73). We are standing firm on a number of proposals: Continuation of Library and Email services (61); Workload (74); Experience credit for participation (15.10), Marker/grader entitlements (and tutor 3 definitions, 92 + 62); proposals around Nursing (77, 76) and Kinesiology (LOU and LOI); improved access to the PER (86); Post-retirement benefits, which we’ve included in the larger benefits package (88); and Compensation for restructuring, which is particularly important in this moment for the whole of Unity 2 (92), 

We are proposing to sign off on the Request to design a course proposal (80). We are looking for direction from the U2 members of 3903 on Foundation course design (63), and Class sizes (64). 

For the sake of reducing the size of our proposal package and focusing our monetary demands around priority areas (such as wages and job stability), Unit 2 members are withdrawing the following proposals:

  • 10.04.7 Enrollment cancellation fee for Music Tutors
  • 15.15 Research Leaves
  • 15.16 Research Grants Fund
  • 15.17 Conference Travel Fund
  • 15.22 Tuition Waiver for Spouses and Dependents
  • 15.32 Credentials Leave
  • 24.02 Term of LSTAS and Compensation (adding timeline for notifications, etc.)

Unit 3 Proposals

Unit 3 has been waiting for a response from the Employer on the proposals that we sent them in February. This package, sent before the beginning of the strike, was already a “focused package,” so we have been awaiting response from the Employer since then. Throughout the bargaining sessions, the Employer had very little engagement with the Unit 3 proposals. We have just received a new package from the employer today which we haven’t got a chance to review. We have our own streamlined proposals we will plan to present to the employer tomorrow. We made a small yet important rewording to ensure that both YUFA faculty and 3903 course directors are eligible to apply for the GAT Fund. The changes were already reflected in the Memorandum of Settlement and the Letter of Agreement that was sent to the employer.  

Furthemore, Unit 3 has also withdrawn the following pieces from our Memorandum of Settlement with regards to the GATF Grievance:

  1. The Employer shall make a public declaration acknowledging that it misled both the Union and the wider York Community regarding the financial implications of hiring a Graduate Assistant, thereby leading to the mismanagement of the GATF. 
  2. The Employer shall remit a penalty amounting to $50,000 to the Master’s Bursary Fund. FGS will dispense a $2000 award from the Master’s Bursary Fund for non-priority pool Unit 3 bargaining unit members who receive a Graduate Assistantship, until such a time that the $50,000 has been expended.