What is bargaining?

A silhouette of members carrying a banner

A silhouette of people carrying a banner

What is bargaining?

The Collective Agreement between CUPE 3903 and York University (our Employer), which sets out your rights and responsibilities in the workplace, expires on August 31, 2017.

When our collective agreement is about to expire, we elect union members to a Bargaining Team that meets with the Employer to negotiate a new collective agreement. The bargaining team will help run the bargaining survey, which determines our priorities in this round of bargaining. Based on this information, the bargaining team will help elaborate the proposals which will be tabled with the employer once bargaining begins in earnest. While the bargaining team has an immense responsibility towards the bargaining process, every part of this process is open to the membership, and every proposal must be approved by the members.

How is it relevant to me?

The union goes into bargaining with the goals of defending our existing collective agreement and of addressing issues that our members face in the workplace.

Over the past fifteen years, for example, the union has won some job security programs for contract faculty, tuition protection language for graduate student members (including both the comparatively low graduate tuition fees at York and the tuition rebate) and a strong health plan, among many other things, through this process. Units 1 and 3 have been profoundly affected by York’s new fellowship funding model, and Unit 2’s fight for job security continues. The employer has been hitting us hard in the last two years; bargaining is an opportunity to strengthen our position and affirm our rights.

The Employer usually goes into bargaining with the goals of reducing its costs and of increasing its managerial rights over our work. The outcome of these negotiations can profoundly affect your experience at York for both good and ill, so it is vitally important to pay attention to the bargaining process and, where possible, to get involved!


Does bargaining mean a strike or a lockout?

Not necessarily. A strike is a bargaining tactic used by the union as a last resort and if directed to do so by the membership (through a democratic vote) and if the bargaining process fails to achieve an agreement to the satisfaction of the membership.

Nonetheless, from our experience, we know that the threat of a strike is often necessary to push the employer to bargain seriously. The union has used a strike mandate (given to it by the membership) to make important gains in every round of bargaining since at least 1998.

If the employer observes an engaged membership, our bargaining team will be in a better position to negotiate an equitable collective agreement at the bargaining table. The bigger the turnout and the stronger the strike mandate, the more the union holds negotiating power.

How do I stay informed?

The Bargaining Team, in collaboration with the Executive Committee and the Communications Committee, is committed to providing timely and comprehensive updates to the membership about the bargaining process. These updates will be posted on the CUPE 3903 website and emailed to the members in the weekly CUPE 3903 Newsletter and in other updates.

But the best way to stay informed on bargaining and other union matters is to get involved!

How do I get involved?

CUPE 3903 is a member-driven local and depends on the participation and dedication of its membership.

The best way to get involved is to attend General Membership Meetings (GMMs) in order to hear the Bargaining Team’s reports and to offer your feedback.

Once we begin bargaining, the Stewards’ Council becomes the Bargaining Mobilization Committee. Both bodies are open to all members.

In addition, CUPE 3903 is committed to a process of open bargaining. This means that union members are welcome and encouraged to attend our Bargaining Team meetings and bargaining meetings with the employer.