Community Update #2 (Feb. 25)

Community Update #2 (Feb. 25)

The University administration had hoped we could achieve a negotiated collective agreement over the weekend with CUPE 3903, the union representing Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and Contract Faculty, prior to their planned strike date of 12:01 am on Monday, February 26.

With that goal in mind, we offered two consecutive proposals (on February 7 and 21), both of which addressed what we understood to be crucial items:

  1. rates of pay (see below for details);
  2. a new Job Stability Program for contract faculty in Unit 2, building on what the Union and the University developed together over a two-year long mediated process;  
  3. a renewed Graduate Assistant Training Fund for Unit 3;
  4. a streamlined grievance procedure across all three Units; and
  5. equity related language across all three Units.

Regarding pay increases: The University fully appreciates how important pay rates are for our employees. For this reason, our latest February 21 proposal incorporates a Bill 124 wage re-opener that is in keeping with a recent arbitration award for two large education sector unions and pay increases for each year of a three year renewal collective agreement. We made an offer that if ratified, would result in pay increases effective immediately, including retroactive payments to current employees in the CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2 and 3 bargaining units, and which we are ready to provide as expeditiously as practicable.

Furthermore, the University’s bargaining team has been – and remains – available throughout the weekend to meet with CUPE 3903 and the Conciliation Officer.

Unfortunately, our most recent proposals have gone unanswered by CUPE 3903, most importantly on the issue of pay rates, and they have not engaged with us or the Conciliation Officer over the weekend. Therefore, barring contact from them later today, we must assume they have opted to commence a labour disruption.

The University’s top priority is to continue supporting students and their learning. The Senate Executive Committee has communicated that under Senate policy, any changes to course delivery that are required during the first six days of a labour disruption will be managed by individual course instructors. Senate Executive also confirmed that the decisions of individual course instructors are not affected by statements or motions on behalf of a program, department, or Faculty Council. Students will receive information directly from their instructors and will also be able to find information about the status of their courses on the Course Status website, starting on Sunday evening, February 25, at 8:30 pm.

Senate Executive has further confirmed that:

  • Courses and academic activities in progress that can continue will continue (including in the School of Continuing Studies and off-site locations).
  • There is flexibility for course instructors to alter the delivery mode of their courses from in-person to remote instruction if this is the best way to preserve academic integrity and continue the course during the disruption.
  • Any changes to course delivery are to be communicated in advance to students by instructors via eClass and reported to Dean’s/Principal’s Offices.

Contingency plans for all aspects of university operations are in place and will be activated as required. Should a labour disruption extend beyond six days, the University will provide timely and clear guidance.

We will continue to work toward a swift, equitable, and sustainable agreement with CUPE 3903. Until a collective agreement renewal is achieved, we encourage all community members to treat each other with care and respect.

A new labour disruption website is your source for the most current information: