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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Collective bargaining is when the employer and the union meet to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. You can learn more about the collective bargaining process here

A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is a written agreement between the employer and the union that defines the terms and conditions of employment for unionized employees in a bargaining unit. This typically includes terms and conditions such as wages, working conditions, benefits, rights, privileges and duties of all involved.

In addition, the CBA defines dispute resolution processes and how grievances are settled, how union dues are collected and recognizes the union listed as the bargaining agent for the bargaining unit.

The CBA has a term limit and is renegotiated between the employer and bargaining agent.

You can read the CUPE Unit 1, 2 and 3 CBA’s here

Academic unions

  • CUPE 3903 (Units 1, 2, and 3), the union representing York’s teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants
  • CUPE 3903 (Unit 4) representing part-time librarians and archivists
  • Osgoode Hall Faculty Association (OHFA) representing faculty in Osgoode Hall Law School.
  • Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) 578, Units 1 and 2 representing (full-time and casual employees respectively) English as a Second Language Instructors at the York University English Language Institute.
  • York University Faculty Association (YUFA), which represents full-time faculty and librarians (excluding faculty in Osgoode Hall Law School).

Non-academic unions

  • CUPE 1356, representing maintenance, grounds and trades employees
  • CUPE 1356-1 representing security and parking employees.
  • CUPE 1356-2 representing student employees working part-time in the GO SAFE program, CCTV, and parking services. 
  • International Union of Operating Engineers representing operating engineers who run York’s power plant.
  • York University Staff Association (YUSA) Units 1 and 2 representing (full-time, and part-time and interim employees respectively) clerical, technical and support staff.

In October 2019, the Ontario Government passed legislation, Bill 124,Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 which establishes a three-year moderation period for all broader public sector employees, where increases to total compensation are limited to a total of 1% per year for each year of the moderation period.  You can read the University’s letter to CUPE 3903 regarding Bill 124 here.

CUPE 3903

CUPE stands for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

CUPE 3903 represents four distinct groups of employees at York. Each of those four distinct groups make up what is called a bargaining unit. 

Three of these bargaining units are involved in these negotiations:

  • Unit 1 represents approximately 2,000 teaching assistants who are full-time graduate students employed in teaching, demonstrating, tutoring or marking.
  • Unit 2 represents approximately 1,100 contract faculty who are employed in teaching, demonstrating, tutoring or marking.
  • Unit 3 represents approximately 75 graduate assistants who are full-time graduate students employed in administrative, clerical, or research work that is in connection with the financial assistance they receive from or through the University and where research work is not predominantly for advancing a student’s progress towards program and degree requirements.  

An additional bargaining unit, Unit 4, represents approximately 15 part-time librarians and archivists and are not part of this negotiation.

The University sent the union a Notice to Bargain on August 26, 2020. The parties held their first bargaining meeting on October 30, 2020.

The parties are meeting via Zoom.

The collective bargaining agreements for CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2 and 3 expired on August 31, 2020.

You can receive email updates by providing your name and email address on the home page of this site. We will also post regular updates on this site.


Conciliation is a step in the bargaining process whereby one or both parties request that the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development appoint a neutral, third party conciliation officer to help the two parties reach an agreement. You can read more here.

The University had initial meetings with CUPE to discuss bargaining on June 25 and September 18, 2020 and gave CUPE notice to bargain on August 26, 2020. The parties formally started bargaining on October 30, 2020 in an effort to achieve negotiated collective agreements, and have met for bargaining 23 times thus far. While we appreciate the mutual efforts and constructive dialogue between the parties, progress towards achieving renewal agreements has been slow. It is now clear to the University that negotiations would benefit by moving to the conciliation process with the assistance of a government-appointed, neutral third-party conciliator. This is a normal part of the collective bargaining process and was initiated in the last round of bargaining by CUPE 3903.

The University and the Union will meet with the conciliation officer and will continue to negotiate with the conciliation officer’s assistance in an effort to achieve an agreement.

Additionally, the parties may choose to continue to work with mediator Chris Albertyn on matters of job stability and equity provisions for Unit 2 contract faculty. The parties engaged Mr. Albertyn beginning in February 2021, and the University has proposed to CUPE that we continue to do so.

No. The University is focused on achieving negotiated collective agreements with CUPE 3903 without a labour disruption.

Conciliation is a normal part of the bargaining process and is designed to help the parties reach a negotiated settlement.  It is the University’s strong preference to work through the conciliation process with CUPE 3903 over the coming weeks to achieve negotiated settlements and the University remains optimistic that together the parties will be able to do so. You can learn more about the collective bargaining process here

If conciliation does not result in a tentative agreement, either party can request a No Board Report, which begins the 17-day countdown to the legal date where a union can commence a Strike or an employer can commence a Lockout; such deadline commences on a specific date set at 12:01 am (i.e., one minute past midnight). However, there is no obligation by either party that a Strike or Lockout need commence after that deadline. The parties can continue to negotiate during the No Board period.

A No Board Report does not mean that there will be a strike. It is a step in the bargaining process, along with a number of other steps, that must occur before any strike can commence.

At the moment the University is working hard to avoid a strike. In the event that does not appear possible, contingency plans will be made available that will provide all pertinent information.