York violates Collective Agreement and Arbitrator’s awards; unilaterally changes Unit 1 & 3 funding!
Members of Unit 1 and 3 will see that their paycheque is lower than usual. This is because the employer has chosen to apply unilateral changes to how you are paid, in violation of the very principle of collective bargaining. The union is resisting these changes. See below for what to expect. You can also read our “Why Is My Paycheque So Low?” handout (GIA PDF, plain text).
What is York doing?
The employer is taking Grant-in-Aid, which has been paid as part of the monthly paycheque for Units 1 and 3 for decades, and funnelling it through the student account under the new name Supplementary Graduate Assistance (SGA). They are doing this by adding a brand new article to the collective agreements, which was neither agreed to nor awarded by the arbitrator.
York is trying to alter our Collective Agreements without our consent, adding new language at their whim. They first claimed they had the right to add this language because the arbitrator had awarded it; he has not. Then, the employer insisted that the arbitrator had “implied” his agreement; we showed that the employer never even suggested it to the arbitrator in their submissions. Finally, faced with the evidence, York tried to claim that our bargaining team had agreed during bargaining but there is no evidence of this. In fact, this new language was part of their last pass to our bargaining team during the strike, and therefore York clearly did not believe we had been agreed to it at the time.
The worst part of these shifting goal posts is that the union expressed a willingness to cooperate with the employer on these changes if there was a compelling reason to do so. This offer of cooperation has effectively been rejected by the decision to move forward with unilateral changes.
Why does it matter?
York cannot unilaterally decide on new language to place in our collective agreements. This is a violation of the very principle of collective bargaining. Accepting this would set an inexpressibly dangerous precedent.
This new Article was neither signed off on in bargaining, nor part of the Hayes settlement. There are ways to make changes like this in-between bargaining rounds, York is aware of these processes and chose to ignore them. Allowing York to unilaterally insert language into our collective agreements would send the signal that they are free to alter our agreements at their will.
York has announced the change to the GIA and has described how the new SGA will be disbursed, but right now all we have is York’s word on how this will work. The new article they tried to sneak in to our collective agreements is vague and history has taught us that language must be airtight or else there is no guarantee York will not turn on the commitments they made.
The language York tried to sneak in as this new article is unacceptable for a number of reasons:
- Members’ monthly paycheques will be significantly smaller.
- The Article offers no explicit protections against the SGA being automatically used to pay tuition or existing debts within the student account.
- The language of the new Article is vague and allows for payments to be made once a term, instead of the announced once a month.
- Refund requests from Student Accounts are notoriously slow and the Article provides no guarantees around when the SGA refunds must be cleared.
What can you expect?
York has provided the Local with little to no information about the status of the rollout or how members’ pay will fully be affected, despite being in communication for months regarding these proposed changes. York sent a message to the community indicating that SGA will be paid into student accounts on the 25th of each month and would be automatically refunded if ETF is set up. However, at this time, all that is guaranteed is that Unit 1 and 3 members will no longer be receiving the GIA payment on their monthly paycheque.
GIA for a 1.0 TAship over the Fall/Winter should be $3954 divided over eight months for $494.25/month. If you have less than a 1.0 TAship the amount is pro-rated, for instance a 0.5 TAship would receive $1977. GAs (Unit 3) receive $1942 for a 0.5 GAship. GIA payments are only paid in the months you have a TA/GA contract. If you have any questions please contact your Chief Steward or a Staff Representative.
The language York tried to insert into our agreements was vague and they have not been forthcoming about the changes. All that can really be said is that a similar amount to the original GIA will either be deposited in student accounts on a monthly basis or as a lump sum, date and frequency unknown. We are unsure whether members will have to request a refund or not, and are doubtful that York has corrected the slow and opaque process through which refunds are cleared. A portion or the entirety of the SGA may be used to cover existing debts within the student account, which takes away the financial freedom of members to choose how to use their income and when.
What if these changes leave you struggling financially?
Even if York automatically refunds SGA once its been applied to student accounts there may be significant delays in members receiving their money. This could mean members are unable to pay their rent and other bills, an issue we have repeatedly raised with York.
If York’s change to the GIA payment structure has left you struggling to pay your bills or rent we ecourage you to apply for the Ways and Means Fund. Ways and Means is available to CUPE 3903 members to help cover unexpected financial hardships. For more information see: 3903.cupe.ca/ways-and-means-fund
What is the Local doing?
We have filed a grievance at Step 4, contesting these unilateral changes. Additionally, as per the Hayes’ settlement, the arbitrator remains seized in any dispute regarding his award. Consequently, we will be taking this violation of our collective agreements and the arbitrator’s awards directly to the arbitrator for resolution, if the employer continues to claim that Hayes “implied” any kind of settlement.
There is a process between bargaining rounds by which agreements can be made. However, York has chosen not to follow this route and meaningfully engage the union in the implementation of this particular change in the funding model; York has again shown their disdain for collective bargaining and how hollow their ‘desire’ for better labour relations really is.
As more information becomes available, the Local will ensure members are adequately informed about how to best navigate this sudden change to the funding structure.
What can you do?
We’re asking members to keep us informed of how York is implementing this change, and its impact on you.
Check your student account for the SGA payment. Please let us know if…
- Your GIA/SGA was not deposited in your student account by the 25th.
- Your GIA/SGA was in the wrong amount.
- Your GIA/SGA was used to offset student debts instead of fully refunded.
- You had to request a refund instead of it being automatic.
- You had any other issues.
Fill out this SGA Report Form. You can also contact your departmental Steward, the Chief Steward for your Unit or Baolinh, our Staff Representative for further support.