The last 18 months have been a challenging time for all of us as we deal with a global pandemic that has changed the way we work, live, study and conduct research.
York remains committed to planning for a phased return to campus in September 2021, to the extent permitted by evolving public health guidelines.
The University continues to believe, as it has from the onset of bargaining in October 2020, that expeditiously achieving renewal collective agreements with all three units is the best way to provide some certainty and stability for the entire University community as well as CUPE 3903 members at this difficult time. The University also believes that equity issues must form a key part of this round of bargaining.
The bargaining teams for the University and CUPE 3903 have now met 38 times in an effort to achieve renewed agreements, including with the assistance of Government-appointed conciliation officers and mediator Chris Albertyn (for Unit 2 issues).
The University has taken a number of steps to facilitate the expeditious achievement of renewal agreements. These steps include:
- Providing a number of suggestions to CUPE 3903 as to how the parties might expedite bargaining, including at the outset a proposal to engage a third-party mediator.
- Limiting employer proposals to items addressing areas of mutual interest to the parties related to equity and job stability.
- Extending for 2020-21 funding for the Benefit Fund, Childcare Fund, and Sexual Violence Survivor Fund. These are all funds important to CUPE 3903 represented employees, that had otherwise expired with the expiration of the 2017-20 collective agreement.
- Proposing “extension frameworks” that would have facilitated the expeditious renewal of all three collective agreements while still continuing to address items important to CUPE 3903 that had also expired in the 2017-20 collective agreement.
- Requesting the assistance of a government conciliator.
- Providing comprehensive proposals with a view to limiting and resolving outstanding matters.
Despite the robust schedule of bargaining meetings already completed and having the assistance of both a mediator and conciliators, the parties remain far apart in reaching an agreement. With the clear threat by CUPE 3903, of a disruptive strike planned for September, the University had no choice but to take the next step in the bargaining process and ask the conciliation officers to request a No Board Report. This action, which is often a part of the bargaining process, initiates the 17-day countdown to a legal strike date for the University and our CUPE 3903 represented employees. In 2018, this step was initiated by CUPE 3903.
While the University continues to engage in the bargaining process, communications by CUPE of their provisional strike timeline combined with advertising for phone canvassers to assist CUPE in implementing their timeline is concerning.
Our plans for a phased return to Campus are already well underway in response to current public health modelling and the preferences expressed by a large majority of new and returning students across Canada. These plans will be very difficult to realize if CUPE 3903, the union representing teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants, goes on strike in September. This is why the University feel it is necessary and important to request a No Board at this time.
The University strongly believes that if both bargaining teams continue to meet and work hard with the conciliation officers and mediator Chris Albertyn (on Unit 2 issues), we can still reach negotiated agreements at the bargaining table and avoid an impasse that would lead to a labour disruption. The latest information regarding negotiations can be found at https://www.yorku.ca/cupe3903bargaining/