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CUPE 3903 Collective Bargaining

York University’s approach to collective bargaining with all our bargaining units is informed by five core principles

Transparency

Open, transparent and honest conduct, knowing that achieving a renewed agreement in a timely manner is in the best interests of our community.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Improving and expanding initiatives that further our principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion across the entire University.

Financial Sustainability

Focusing on the financial wellbeing of our employees and the long-term sustainability of York, taking the current economic climate and fiscal realities into account.

Respect

For the bargaining process, the union and its leadership.

Accountability

To our community.

Units Currently in Negotiations


Unit 1

All part-time employees registered at the University as full-time graduate students employed in teaching, demonstrating, tutoring or marking. (Teaching Assistants)


Unit 2

All part-time employees employed in teaching, demonstrating, tutoring or marking, who are not registered at the University as full-time graduate students. (Contract Faculty)


Unit 3

All part-time employees registered at the University as full-time graduate students who are receiving financial assistance and are employed in administrative, clerical and research work. (Graduate Assistants)

Updates

On April 14, 2024, the University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2 and 3 reached tentative agreements for three-year renewal collective agreements, while also addressing the Bill 124 moderation period. More details will be available following ratification by bargaining unit members and the Executive Committee of Board of Governors.

On April 8 it will be six weeks since CUPE 3903 commenced a strike. This has been a stressful time for all members of the community, especially our students. The University remains committed to negotiating renewal collective agreements with CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2 and 3 to end the strike. With the goals of reaching a renewal collective agreement and ending the strike, the University will be returning to the bargaining table with assistance of the provincially-appointed mediator on Tuesday, April 9. 

On March 24 and 25, the bargaining teams for York and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2, and 3 resumed bargaining with the assistance of the provincially-appointed mediator.

The University entered the bargaining sessions optimistic that we could achieve an agreement that would get all of our students back to class, our CUPE represented employees back to work and be able to deliver the full schedule of S1 courses. Unfortunately, we have been unable to do so.

On March 27, the University wrote to CUPE to express our concern. After more than four weeks of the union striking, and the additional bargaining meetings on March 24 and 25, the parties are no closer to a negotiated agreement than when the strike began given the Union’s current positions on substantive issues and its inability to provide timely responses during bargaining.

The University will await guidance from the provincially-appointed mediator as to when would be an appropriate time to return to the bargaining table.

The University remains open to mediation and if required, binding interest arbitration with an agreed upon mediator-arbitrator. Five other unions at York have agreed to this and the process is currently underway.

The University remains focused on efforts that will get all students back to class, our CUPE 3903-represented employees back to work as soon as possible, and that will ensure that the summer terms can go forward to the maximum extent possible.

On March 19, 2024, CUPE 3903’s Bargaining Team (BT) wrote to the provincially appointed mediator proposing that a meeting would be beneficial in response to the mediator’s concerns that there is “no likelihood of reaching a settlement” at the bargaining table.

On March 21, 2024, the University wrote back to the CUPE 3903 BT responding favourably to scheduling a meeting, subject to the guidance of the mediator and based on the understanding from CUPE 3903 that the Union would first like to address several non-monetary items that need to be resolved as part of a final agreement to end the strike. The University and CUPE 3903 have now been invited by the mediator to meet on March 24 and both parties have agreed to attend. 

This new meeting is cause for some optimism that the parties can work together to make progress, however, the University continues to await a response to its two back-to-back comprehensive proposals, including proposed increases in pay rates, as presented to CUPE 3903 on February 7 and February 21, 2024.

Summer Courses

Following a meeting of York’s Senate Executive committee earlier this week, the University administration is working to determine which courses can be offered in the first summer term (S1), as this term will commence as planned on May 6. 

The administrative process required to cancel courses that may not run in S1 will commence at the end of the business day on March 25, 2024, in order to provide students and instructors with timely information to enable their own summer planning. 

As of March 18, CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2, and 3 have been on strike for three weeks. In this time, the University continues to ensure that students’ learning needs remain the top priority and all courses that can continue are running.

Over the course of the last week, there has been discussion about the strike and whether bargaining could resume. The University made it clear in correspondence with CUPE on March 13 that we would be willing to return to the bargaining table, however we will await guidance from the provincially-appointed mediator.

The mediator has worked closely with the parties for many weeks, and on March 14 after both parties expressed interest in meeting, said that she is not convening the parties at this time. Further, she stated that “It will be necessary to address wages and benefits to reach a settlement.” This makes clear that until CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2, and 3 respond to the University’s salary proposals of February 7 and 21, a meeting is unfortunately not likely to be productive. Currently, the union’s monetary position has remained unchanged from December 11, 2023, and stands at a 31% cumulative, non-compounded total increase. The University corresponded with CUPE following the mediator’s decision.

The University remains willing to return to the bargaining table pending further guidance from the mediator. We also remain open to mediation-arbitration. In the meantime, we also continue to wait for CUPE 3903 salary counterproposals from the University’s February 7 and 21 proposals.

You can read the bargaining timeline here.  

Summer courses

Decisions will have to be made imminently about the summer terms if the labour disruption has not concluded by the end of March in order to give students and course directors appropriate time to plan for that scenario. Further information will be forthcoming following discussion of options with Senate Executive.

In an effort to end the strike, get all students back to class, and enable CUPE 3903-represented employees to return to work, on March 7, 2024 the University wrote to CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2, and 3 and proposed that the parties resolve matters of salary and compensation through mediation, and if necessary, interest arbitration (mediation-arbitration). We were disappointed to learn that offer was rejected (see full letter here).

Five other unions at York (YUFA, YUSA-1, OHFA, CUPE 1356, CUPE 1356-1) made a request for interest arbitration to the University and the University responded favourably. This exchange prompted our proposal to the striking CUPE 3903 units. While CUPE 3903 has rejected our offer, we are pleased that York and the other five unions are moving towards an agreement for mediation-arbitration to resolve the outstanding salary issues related to the Bill 124 moderation period.

On March 9, CUPE 3903 provided proposal packages in response to two back-to-back offers from the Employer which included comprehensive proposals for the moderation period and pay increases in the renewal Collective Agreement. Unfortunately, the packages include only minimal movement on extended health care benefits, and no movement on  the issue of pay. Nor did the response address the new Job Stability Program proposal for contract faculty in Unit 2 that would strengthen the Union and the University’s joint work developed over a two-year mediated process. CUPE 3903’s proposed pay increase represents a 31 per cent cumulative, non-compounded increase and far exceeds what has been negotiated or awarded for other unions in the Ontario University sector for both the moderation period and for renewal collective agreements.

Given the significant gap that exists after 37 weeks of bargaining, the University believes that mediation-arbitration is the fairest and most expeditious way to resolve outstanding issues, end the strike and avoid putting the summer term at risk.

The University will carefully review the March 9 proposals from CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2, and 3 and will await hearing from the provincially appointed mediator about possible new bargaining dates.

Since CUPE 3903 began their strike on February 26, the University’s top priority has been our students and their learning needs. Thank you to faculty and staff for supporting students and navigating these complicated times.

Students can find the latest information about the labour disruption on the Student Update page, faculty and staff are encouraged to watch for updates in Yfile and visit the Disruption Operations page and frequently asked questions for the most up-to-date information.  

On February 7 and 21, the University presented comprehensive offers, including proposals that addressed pay rates, which to date remain unanswered by CUPE 3903.

The University remains committed to achieving agreements that addresses both the go-forward renewal collective agreements for CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2 and 3 members, as well as for the Bill 124 moderation period.

To try and achieve an agreement and end the strike, on Thursday March 7, the University wrote to CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2, and 3 to propose mediation, and if that is not successful, to agree to enter into binding interest arbitration.

The University’s offer of mediation – and arbitration, if needed - with CUPE 3903 follows a written request from YUFA, YUSA-1, OHFA and CUPE 1356 and 1356-1 asking the University to agree to multi-party arbitration to resolve the matter of the Bill 124 moderation period for those five unions. The University responded favourably to that request on March 6.

We would also like to reiterate the information shared with the community on February 27, asking that students, faculty and staff display patience, be respectful, and remain calm when coming across the picket lines. Information on parking, crossing a picket line and travel alternatives can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page.

The University would like to thank the community for showing patience during the labour disruption. Please know that support and well-being resources are available to students, faculty and staff. 

We are hopeful that with our latest proposals we will be able to achieve an agreement.

CUPE 3903 is on strike as of 12:01 am February 26. Please visit the Disruption Operations webpage for the most up to date information.

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

The University and CUPE 3903 are currently engaged in a unique round of bargaining, negotiating both a Bill 124 wage re-opener and a renewal collective agreement. We recognize the particular importance of rates of pay to colleagues in the CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2 and 3 bargaining units and have therefore today proposed the increases detailed below.

Proposal Regarding Bill 124 Moderation Period (Wage Re-opener)

The University increased its Bill 124 wage re-opener proposal during bargaining on February 21 as follows:

  • 0.75% increase retroactive to September 1, 2020
  • 0.75% increase retroactive to September 1, 2021
  • 2.75% increase retroactive to September 1, 2022

This February 21 proposal provides for a non-compounded total increase of 4.25%* over the three-year moderation period and is in addition to the 3% already negotiated and received over the same three-year period. 

* Improving the University’s previous moderation period proposal which was for a 3.75% increase retroactive to September 1, 2022. 

Proposal Regarding Renewal Period

The University’s proposed pay increase for the Renewal Period is:

  • 3.00% increase retroactive to September 1, 2023
  • 2.75% increase effective September 1, 2024
  • 2.25% increase effective September 1, 2025

The University is committed to negotiating a renewal collective agreement with CUPE 3903 Units 1, 2, and 3 and Bill 124 moderation agreements that provide for retroactive pay increases with all our bargaining units, including CUPE 3903.

Please find York’s recent correspondence to CUPE 3903 regarding ongoing negotiations here

The bargaining committees for the University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2, and 3 met most recently on February 7 and 15, 2024 with the assistance of the provincially appointed conciliation officer. The parties have now met 24 times and have reached agreement on some proposals.

On February 15, the University presented CUPE 3903 with a number of counter-proposals which have been included in a Comprehensive Framework for Settlement for each of the Units.  You can read those frameworks here Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3.

The University’s framework for settlement includes:

  • Wage increases across all three bargaining units for both the Bill 124 moderation period and the renewal period:
    • Moderation period:     
      3.75%* effective September 1, 2022
      *The 3.75% is in addition to the 3% already negotiated and received over the course of the moderation period. 
    • Renewal Period:
      3.00% effective September 1, 2023
      2.75% effective September 1, 2024
      2.25% effective September 1, 2025

The University looks forward to CUPE’s response to this proposal given its importance to employees in the CUPE 3903 bargaining units.     

  • A Job Stability Program (JSP) proposal for Unit 2 that builds on the work of the parties with the assistance of mediator Chris Albertyn over the last two years. An important principle that was established early on by the Joint CUPE 3903 Unit 2-University Committee is that the JSP would provide contract faculty employees with reasonable expectations for future work with the goal of maximizing certainty of work for as many contract faculty members as possible. The University’s current proposal, most of which was jointly developed by the parties, is consistent with this principle.       
  • Streamlined grievance procedures across all three bargaining units based on proposals initiated by both CUPE 3903 and the University. The changes are intended to increase efficiency by reducing the number of steps in the grievance procedure and by providing, on a pilot basis, an expedited mediation/arbitration process related to appointments processes in the Unit 2 bargaining unit.
  • New “participation credit” (in the form of Applicable Prior Experience) for employees in Unit 2 who participate in identified forms of collegial participation (service) as described in the renewal collective agreement.
  • A renewed Graduate Assistant Training Fund in Unit 3 to provide incentives for the hiring of GAs during the life of the renewal collective agreement.
  • New language that informs TAs in Unit 1 of “… important course dates (such as assignment due dates and dates of tests and exams) which correspond to centralized administrative deadlines (such as the final date for submitting grades)” to enable better planning during the academic term. 

The University bargaining committee is committed to working hard to reach a negotiated collective agreement with CUPE 3903. 

The committees are scheduled to meet again with the assistance of the conciliation officer on February 21, 23, 26 & 28. The first date the union could strike is February 22 at 12:01am.

The bargaining teams for the University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2 and 3, have now met 22 times since the launch of bargaining on June 29, 2023, including three meetings with the assistance of the provincially appointed conciliation officer on January 17, 22 and February 2, 2024.

On October 27, the University provided CUPE with a monetary proposal, as it had committed to do as part of Bill 124 moderation period talks. The monetary discussions remain active and ongoing with the University presenting the Union with comparator data on pay rates and benefit plans at other Ontario universities.

The parties have exchanged, discussed, and reached agreement on some non-monetary proposals. The University has also tabled revisions to its proposal regarding a Job Stability Program following approximately two years of mediated joint committee discussions.

On January 31, 2024, CUPE 3903’s bargaining committee requested a no-board report from the Ministry of Labour which has now been received. This sets Thursday, February 22 at 12:01 a.m.  as the earliest possible date that a legal work stoppage could commence.

Currently negotiations are scheduled for Feb. 7, 15, 21, 23, 26 & 28. The University looks forward to continued discussions with CUPE 3903 towards a negotiated agreement, with the assistance of the conciliation officer.

The bargaining teams for the University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2 and 3, met on Dec. 19, 2023 marking the 19th time the parties have met to negotiate renewal collective agreements. On Dec. 1, 2023, CUPE 3903’s bargaining team requested the appointment of a conciliation officer to assist the parties in reaching a negotiated collective agreement. 

The parties have reached agreement on a few items and will reconvene in the new year to address a number of issues, including: compensation, the next steps with regards to the Job Stability Program and other outstanding proposals from both parties. The University looks forward to productive discussion, with the assistance of the conciliation officer, on these important issues.

The parties are currently working with the conciliation officer to set dates for the resumption of bargaining in the new year.

The bargaining teams for the University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2, and 3 met on November 30 marking the 15th time the parties have met for collective bargaining.

As part of these negotiations, on October 27, the University provided CUPE with a monetary proposal that included a proposal to address the Bill 124 moderation period.

Another key issue in bargaining is the completion of an agreement between the parties for a new “Job Stability Program” (JSP) for employees in Unit 2. While extensive progress was made through the hard work of a joint committee during the life of the current collective agreement, a final agreement on a JSP has not yet been achieved. The University is hopeful that the collective bargaining process will enable the parties to achieve a successful outcome.   

At the most recent meeting, the University made a proposal to Units 1 and 3 to amend the graduate financial assistance provisions to apply based on the type of tuition fee paid by the student, rather than the type of student. This change would enable the University to lower tuition fees for international graduate students in non-professional programs to an amount equal to domestic tuition fees should it decide to do so during the life of the renewal collective agreement. The University looks forward to further discussion on this issue, which is important to international graduate students and the University’s ability to recruit those students into research-based programs.

On December 1, CUPE 3903 requested the appointment of conciliation officer to assist the parties in reaching a negotiated agreement. Further bargaining meetings are scheduled for December 11, 13, 14 and 19.

The bargaining teams for the University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2, and 3 met on October 27 to continue collective bargaining discussions. Earlier in the week the University met with CUPE 3903, along with representatives from six other unions, where the University provided a detailed overview of the University’s financial position in relation to the Bill 124 wage reopener talks.

This round of bargaining between the University and CUPE 3903 is unique. In addition to negotiating new collective agreements, the parties are discussing wage reopeners related to the Bill 124 moderation period. This means that the University’s monetary offer, which was put forward to CUPE 3903 at the October 27 meeting includes both proposed increases for a renewal collective agreement and for the moderation period.

The parties will reconvene with mediator Chris Albertyn on November 2 to continue discussions regarding a Job Stability Program (JSP) that flows from an agreement reached in the previous round of collective bargaining.

The dates for upcoming bargaining are:

November 7, 17, 24, 30

The bargaining teams for the University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2, and 3 met on July 27 and August 1. The current collective agreements expire on August 31, 2023.

The parties are scheduled to meet again August 17, August 29 and August 31.

See all dates

The bargaining teams for the University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2, and 3 commenced collective bargaining with an initial meeting on June 29, 2023 primarily to discuss logistics. The current collective agreements expire on August 31, 2023.

The parties are scheduled to meet again on July 27, July 28 and August 1.

On August 31, 2023, the collective agreements between York University and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2 and 3 expire. CUPE 3903 represents:

  • Unit 1: Teaching Assistants
  • Unit 2: Contract Faculty
  • Unit 3: Graduate Assistants

On June 1, 2023 the union provided the University with notice to bargain and on June 29, 2023 the parties will meet to start collective bargaining.

The University is committed to successfully negotiating renewal collective agreements that address issues that are important to both CUPE 3903-represented employees and the university.

In addition, the university has indicated that it would like to discuss CUPE’s expressed interest in a shorter timeline (than in past rounds of bargaining) to reach a collective agreement, and how the parties can work together to achieve that goal.