As I am sure you are aware of there was a GMM, or General Member Meeting for CUPE 3903 yesterday. As of yet there has been no official release communicating any developments. As such, I have found a website from a comment with a link posted on this blog this morning with information written by a CUPE member who was at the meeting.
According to the member the biggest development was that the members voted strongly to give the bargaining team with the flexibility to bargain at their discretion. In other words, the bargaining team is not stuck to a set of static rules that either must be conceded to or not. This is excellent news – it means that there may be some new developments as the Union and Employer initiate talks again. The last GMM effectively tied the hands of the bargaining team and that led to the 15 minute walk out of the last meeting.
So our blogger’s interpretation of the new developments are:
– The current 150 demands amount to a 41% increase in the value of the contract over a two agreement (including wages, benefits, funds etc). The new framework will drop the entire value of the demands to 15% or 7.5% over two years.
– the last proposal the employer made to the bargaining team before the strike had a value of a 2.7% increase per year over 3 years to the total collective agreement (not in wages, in the value of the whole collective agreement)
– other unions associated with the university have recently negotiated collective agreement increases more in the range of 4% per year, and the university has admitted that they have not made their best possible offer to us yet.
– 7.5% per year is just a starting point for the new negotiations. The whole point of bargaining is that the two sides begin at separate starting points and find a middle ground. (And interestingly enough, the exact numeric middle ground between 2.7 and 7.5 is 5.1% which is not drastically more than other unions at York have gotten in recent contract negotiations – so it is believed to be a reasonable goal.)
– Some of the key issues in returning to the table are not strictly monetary, like job security for Contract Faculty which a big part of the membership seems to think is one of the key demands.
Thus, the bargaining team should now call the employer back to the table with a sincere offer of significant changes in their demands. The distance between the two positions is now a lot more reasonable, (at one end 2.7% to the total contract per year for 3 years, at the other end 7.5% to the total contract per year for 2 years).
According to our blogger is saying that the best case scenario is that the two sides will meet next week, appreciate the initiative and get serious about reaching an agreement and we could be in classes by December 1st. This is only a ‘best case scenario’.
That is a decent start that the Union has given their bargaining team some authority over the decision and bargain making process. This will speed up all future talks as they have now been promoted from Union paper boy. However, they are still stuck on the 2 year contract! I highly doubt the University will sign an agreement that will almost certainly guarantee some labour disruption in 2 years.
A December 1st date for back to classes is highly unlikely.