Employer Reneges on Offer to Bargain, Turns Back on University Community

This is the Bargaining Team’s response to Dan Bradshaw’s letter, March 14th, withdrawing the University’s willingness to meet for bargaining.

Employer Reneges on Offer to Bargain, Turns Back on University Community

The bargaining team for Units 1, 2, and 3 have been in communication with the Employer this week to schedule bargaining dates next week. As recently as Wednesday, the Employer had expressed willingness to meet, even asking for earlier dates. The bargaining team responded positively to this on Thursday. But hours later, the Employer reneged on that commitment, leaving CUPE 3903, York’s students, and the broader community in the lurch as the strike continues. 

Why this sudden about-face? The Employer is hiding behind the decision of an outside party who, as the Employer writes, “has made it clear in her correspondence this morning that she is not convening the parties at this time.” The outside party in question is the mediator/conciliator appointed by the Ministry of Labour in December as a step required by Ontario labour law to put us in a legal strike position. Contrary to what the Employer is implying, the parties are not required to use the conciliator (as a mediator) once the strike begins. In fact, in previous rounds of bargaining, the Union and the Employer have either bargained with a mediator who was not the government-appointed conciliator or without any mediator at all. And nothing is now preventing the York University administration from meeting with us without the blessing or help of our former conciliator. Clearly, this baseless move by the Employer shows that they have no interest in bargaining. Their stated concerns for the community ring hollow as they sit on their hands rather than make moves to reach an agreement. We remain committed to getting back to the table immediately and to finding solutions that will get everyone back in the classroom. It’s a shame that the Employer clearly does not share this commitment.

In its refusal to bargain, the Employer has repeatedly hammered on the Union’s requested wage increases while offering wage increases well below inflation. We remind the administration that we have moved much more than they have on wages and other monetary issues during bargaining. Since both parties tabled their initial monetary proposals, CUPE 3903 has dropped 6% on wages alone compared to the Employer’s meagre increase of 1.75%. And in our March 9 counterproposals, we lowered our benefits and funds demands considerably. 

For comparison’s sake, we invite the York University community to consider the salaries of York University’s upper administration: their average salary increase between 2018 and 2023 was 20%, not including bonuses, benefits, and other funds. Take Dan Bradshaw, the Assistant Vice President Labour Relations and lead negotiator for the Employer. He was paid $228,890 in 2020. And during the Bill 124 period, when members of CUPE 3903 were limited to a 1% increase, Bradshaw received a 5.9% increase in 2021 and a 4.8% increase in 2022, resulting in a 2023 salary of $254,972. Just two years of Bradshaw’s increases amount to more than a PhD student’s entire yearly funding. This is how much you need to get paid to tell workers working multiple jobs and visiting food banks that you won’t bargain. 

Our bargaining priorities are both reasonable and rooted in enriching the quality of education at York University for students and workers alike. We are fighting for decent wages during times of immense financial crisis, job stability for the workers who do over half the teaching at the university, and better workplace conditions that improve the learning experience for students. Our message to the Employer is clear: if you truly want us to believe that you care about the community, stop playing games. Live up to the willingness you expressed just Wednesday and come to the table and finish bargaining.