On October 16, CUPE 3903 tabled 110 proposals meant to improve working conditions, quality of education, and equity at York University. This page summarizes the main bargaining areas:
- Job Security for Contract Faculty
- Summer Funding for Graduate Students
- Employment Equity
- Guaranteed Funding for Masters Students
- Better Childcare at York University
- Better Support for Survivors of Sexual Violence
- Accessible Education
- Quality Undergraduate Education
Job Security for Contract Faculty
Contract Faculty perform the same Course Director work as full-time, tenured Professors, but without job security or guarantees of work from term-to-term. Since 2000, the number of tenured Professors at York has increased by 20% while the number of Contract Faculty has increased by 121%. Despite teaching increasingly more of your courses, Contract Faculty remain precariously employed. No matter how many years Contract Faculty have been teaching at York, they need to apply for their jobs every year and don’t know if they will have any teaching work. Contract Faculty are often hired at the last minute and have little time to prepare for their course(s).
This year at the bargaining table, we’re seeking job security for Contract Faculty by strengthening and expanding programs that secure Contract Faculty more full-time positions, longer contracts and more security in knowing what they’re teaching year-to-year.
Summer Funding for Graduate Students
Graduate Students at York are expected to pursue their Master’s or Doctorate degrees – and pay tuition to York – year-round. Most of these student employees only receive pay for 8 months of the year as Teaching or Graduate Assistants. In order to spread our modest funding packages across 12-months, in 2001, CUPE 3903 successfully fought for – and won – minimum funding to be distributed each summer. But in September 2016, York unveiled its new funding model for Graduate Students, which stripped a large number of us of our minimum summer guarantee. A recent survey of our members indicated that over 70% will experience undue financial hardship as a result of this change. This is unacceptable: year-round enrollment must equal year-round funding. This year at the bargaining table, we’re seeking to reinstate the minimum summer guarantee for all Graduate Students.
Despite York’s stated commitment to equity,Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, racialized people and women remain underrepresented in processes of hiring and promotion. We know this because CUPE 3903 fought to include equity surveys in job application and promotion processes. In past rounds, we have fought York on adding LGBTQ-identified persons to existing employment equity procedures and have always been denied. This year at the bargaining table, we’re seeking to protect access to employment and promotion for Contract Faculty and Graduate Students from equity-seeking groups, as well as to expand data-collection on employment equity and include LGBTQ-identified persons in these protections.
Guaranteed Funding for Master’s Students
Master’s Students at York are expected to pursue their degrees – and pay tuition to York – year-round. In order to secure a minimum level of income for Master’s Students to fund their studies, CUPE 3903 successfully fought to unionize Graduate Assistant jobs in 2000-2001, which were typically offered to Master’s Students. But in September 2016, York unveiled its new funding model for Graduate Students, which cut almost 700 Graduate Assistant jobs (around 90% of them!). Since then, York funds most Master’s Students without a work assignment, even as we are called on to volunteer for the same work that we were formerly paid to do. Without the guarantees of a legally enforceable job contract, York is free to reduce or deny funding for Master’s Students at any time in the future. In order to protect funding for Master’s Students, we need to protect Graduate Assistant jobs. The jobs that were cut must be restored. This year at the bargaining table, we’re seeking to restore the Graduate Assistant jobs that were cut and reinstate a secure minimum guarantee of funding for Master’s Students.
Better Childcare at York
There are two childcare facilities that operate at York University’s Keele Campus. Both have spots available to any family in the York community. What many people might not know is that these childcare centers are available in part because CUPE 3903 successfully fought to have them funded and their spaces subsidized. Through our contract, we’ve secured $37,000 in operating costs, and $40,000 in subsidies, for the Student Centre Childcare facility and $40,000 in subsidies for the York Co-operative Day Care Centre. But with the numbers of students and employees at Keele Campus rapidly increasing, these existing childcare facilities cannot meet community need. Moreover, there is currently no childcare facility at York’s Glendon Campus nor one planned at York’s future Markham Campus. Accessible childcare is an essential component of making education accessible for all types of families. This year at the bargaining table, we’re seeking to double the funding of operating costs and subsidies to the Keele campus facilities, establish childcare facilities at York’s Glendon campus and future Markham campus, and improve the direct benefit for all members with childcare responsibilities.
Better Support for Survivors of Sexual Violence
In the current climate of growing awareness of the frequency of sexual violence on campuses and more broadly in society, universities have a responsibility to lead the charge in providing adequate and survivor-centric sexual violence response and support. CUPE 3903 is guided in its proposals on these issues by its Trans Feminist Action Caucus, consisting of all women, trans, gender queer and gender variant members of our Local. This year at the bargaining table, we’re seeking to establish a fund to support survivors of sexual assault, create a sexual and gender violence leave, and mandate paid anti-sexual violence training for our members.
Our commitment to accessible education is more than just words – it requires concrete policies that meet the diverse needs of students and faculty with disabilities, adequate access to health care, protection from discrimination and harassment, and fair wages.
The fellowship funding model has stripped almost 700 graduate students of access to funds and health benefits. This includes the childcare fund, sexual assault survivor support fund, trans fund, funding extensions for members with disabilities, protection from discrimination and harassment, and more. Access to employment and these funds is crucial to ensure that education remains accessible to all. The fight to preserve Unit 3 jobs is a fight for accessible graduate education.
Quality Undergraduate Education
CUPE 3903 has always been on the front lines of demanding better learning conditions for undergraduate students at York University. Job security for contract faculty means that instructors have more time to prepare quality classes. One of our biggest struggles for increased quality of education is class sizes. This round of bargaining, we want to reduce class sizes so that students get more individual attention from course directors and teaching assistants, and an overall better classroom experience.