Strike Update from Union

NOVEMBER 28: The Bargaining Team met with the employer yesterday and today to emphasize areas that must be addressed to end the strike. Yesterday we presented the Employer with our revised framework and they presented us with some revised and new proposals. Their new proposals do not come near to reaching the heart of our key demands, however it is good to see that the employer has recognized the importance of certain important issues. The following are some of the areas where we have begun negotiating: • We would be willing to accept their counter proposal on vision care to be set at $400 every 24 months (up from 300 every 24 months and down from our $450 proposal), as well as their proposal that “paramedical services” (including chiropracty, physiotherapy, massage therapy, naturopathy, podiatry, psychology – now covered only by our Extended Health Benefits plan) would be moved into the normal insurance plan. However, they have offered this with the condition that we delete the existing 175k Extended Health Benefits Fund, which we must insist on retaining for the purpose of covering other necessary health costs and for subsidizing extra costs incurred by members. • We are excited about the inclusion of “fund protection” – which would ensure that future membership growth does not affect the level of funding per member. However, the employer has only attached this “fund protection” to a limited number of funds. Without adequate catch-up of all funds, targeted growth to certain funds, and an expansion on the funds that would qualify for indexation of the proposed “fund protection” we are not yet prepared to settle this issue. The employer will thus have to make more significant strides in order to lead us to settlement. [This is seen by many in the Union to be very important. Since our last contract in 2005 the university has increased our enrollment by 28%, and plans are underway to increase graduate student enrollment even more in the coming next few years. Many of our benefits and funding are a fixed dollar amount over the entire union, so increasing the size of our membership is a means by which the university can increase its own funding through tuition fees and government transfers, and simultaneously lower our funding per student by a hefty amount – 28% since 2005. The Union’s position is to restore these funds per member to 2005 levels and “index” these funds to any increase in enrollement] • One exception to the funds that have not acheived sufficient catch-up levels is the UHIP fund, which is a fund to pay for half of the health insurance premiums of international students that is not covered by FGS. The combined sum of the Unit 1 and Unit 3 funds will now reach 77,000, up from 44,500. This will cover all of our current international members and leave 9,000 that can be used to subsidize insurance premiums for family members. • Another positive move was the inclusion in the Unit 3 Collective Agreement of many leaves that are now in the Unit 1 agreement . • We also saw a first overture on the idea of post-retirement benefits. However, as it is would only cover $1500 per year, this still promises to be insufficient for retirees whose health bills will undoubtedly exceed this limit if they have any serious health problems. Consequently, we responded that this offer is clearly insufficient and we will be pushing to raise this limit. [This is an important aspect of the package for contract faculty. Imagine working your whole working-life at a university, teaching classes and performing student and committee services – just like tenured faculty do – and then you retire without any benefit package whatsoever!] • The key sticking point remains ensuring job security measures for Unit 2. In response to our suggestions of an renewed SRC program (which has the full support of the YUFA executive), they have offered 10 positions of a 5-year teaching stream YUFA appointments (spread over their proposed 3 year contract). Unit 2 CUPE members with 5 or more years in the affirmative action pool would be able to apply to be moved to YUFA with a 4.0 course load + service for $60,000. Currently we have 67 members that would be eligible for SRCs, and we are seeking a 3.0 course load at $75,000, which not only takes into account job security but acknowledges the important role that these members of CUPE have contributed to the York community. Not only are we unwilling to accept this proposal, but YUFA is very unlikely to accept the two-tier employment structure that it would institute within their collective agreement. [This is another very important aspect of the contract. Unit 2’s – contract faculty – are currently forced to reapply for their jobs every semester/year and make far less money as tenured profs for doing the same work. Many contract faculty have been hired semesterly/yearly by the university for well over 10 years, but still have to go through the hiring process as well as receive less wages and benefits from the university as a tenured professor would. The Union hopes to re-introduce a system (which had been used and worked well before) by which contract faculty with many years of service (I think it’s 10 years) can be given longer reknewable contracts at pay and benefits that is closer to what tenured faculty make. In this round of negotiations the University has offered that a pool be set up whereby a limited number of them can be given a 4.0 course load for 60K and transfered to the Faculty’s union YUFA, rather than remain CUPE. This workload is still larger than regular faculty and the pay is still less, so as suggested, the unioin is hoping for further movement in the employer’s position. While these developments are not all that we would hope for, we are encouraged that we have resumed fruitful negotiations. We spent the bulk of today developing responses to the employer’s proposals, and going through our outstanding non-financial proposals by reasserting our position on some, while revising and withdrawing others. We continue to seek more serious movement in our stated key areas of job security for Unit 2 [contract faculty], raising the Minimum Guarantee for Units 1 [TAs] and 3 [GAs and RAs], and restoring our funds to their levels prior to major membership growth [28% since 2005] We will be meeting tomorrow [today, as this was posted yesterday]…


This was emailed to me by a member of CUPE this morning. 


Cheers everyone!



Filed under Uncategorized

48 responses to “Strike Update from Union

  1. Poor Student

    im glad negotiations have resumed, but it doesn’t seem like much has been accomplished.

    looks like the university is sticking to the same budget, they are just trying to shuffle money around to see if CUPE takes the bait.

    here fishy, fishy!

  2. Samuel Jackson

    This is frustrating.

  3. Commuter

    @ Poor Student

    I prefer “here kitty, kitty.” 😉

    Yeah it’s pretty clear that York really hasn’t moved a whole lot…

  4. caitron

    thanks so much for posting this letter! while it doesn’t seem like any huge resolutions have been made, at least we kind of know the status of negotiations.

  5. ShaunnyB

    New developments my foot! They’re striking over 2 major issues, one of which has barely moved, the other I don’t even see has been addressed (the 3-year/2-year bit).

    Let’s just see if this holds out another week and a bit for UofT to join in. That would be tremendous solidarity, and would drag this thing on indefinitely

    Think we can get flight discounts if we book in groups?

  6. Nathan

    “Let’s just see if this holds out another week and a bit for UofT to join in. That would be tremendous solidarity, and would drag this thing on indefinitely”

    That would just strengthen the push for Back to Work legislation. Especially if U of T doesn’t shut down.

  7. F-Ed Up

    “Let’s just see if this holds out another week and a bit for UofT to join in. That would be tremendous solidarity, and would drag this thing on indefinitely”


    I propose city-wide street parties.

    (well, only partly)

  8. clearly things are not progressing,
    but i am a little confused aboutr UofT. are the ta’s of UofT interested in a better contract as well?

  9. Interestingly, Guelph’s TA union settled this morning for a one-year deal.

  10. James Sheldon

    Well there goes our hopes of getting back to class fast. Hawaii anyone?

  11. Jon

    Has the Union accepted binding arbitration?

  12. Commuter

    @ Jon

    They’re negotiating.

  13. anonymous tipster

    The strike will be over by next week, should be back by the 8th, they will use the two weeks before christmas for classes..

  14. dealing with morons

    it takes 4 weeks before negotiations start.
    students….we’re dealing with morons here.

    They dont care about the students, they have no interest in the students who are the TRUE victims here.

    Disgrace! They should be ashamed!
    York and the union

  15. ams

    im curious to see if u Guelph and Uft join in.

  16. sam

    Where are you guys getting your info from. (source)

  17. Kelso

    Do you think we will be back in school this week? Earliest wednesday???

  18. sam

    Does anyone know that outcome of todays meetings

  19. Commuter

    @ sam

    They’re probably still meeting. According to the link posted by pp in the other topic, the meeting started at 1pm. Hopefully CUPE member with child can give us an update about it tomorrow.

    @ Kelso

    No idea.

  20. anonymous

    @jon: the union will never accept biniding arbitration due to the fact that if they would it would actually result in a regressive contract so no they will not accept binding arbitration

  21. Fred

    We need solidarity so this thing can last through December!
    CUPE should hold on so we have no classes in December

  22. Impatient

    Guelph reached an agreement, and they’re having a ratification vote for it, so it doesn’t look like they’ll be joining, but who knows!

  23. Ridculous

    @ F-Ed Up

    Don’t forget cupe 3913 – Guelph University cupe is voting December 1 (Monday).

    U of T is holding Unit 1 strike vote on December 3 with polls on 4, 5, 8, and 9.

    If this 2010 coalition is a fact then what happens Monday in Guelph may be crucial to U of T.

    The situation is ridiculous!

  24. Commuter

    @ Impatient & Rediculous

    Since Guelph settled, maybe they got their 2-year contract?

  25. Commuter

    @ Myself

    Wow… it’s a 1-year contract.

  26. Impatient

    It just seems like the 1 year deal was the university working hard to avoid a strike, unlike some places i know..

  27. Commuter

    @ Impatient

    That’s probably an accurate assessment, considering exams at UofG start on Monday, and that’s when a strike vote would have been held. I assume the university was fearful of a disruption mid-way through the exam period, and that would be a heck of a time to have a disruption, in terms of rescheduling, etc.

  28. Impatient

    I dont know if it’s still on their website, but they were gonna hold exams even if the strike was going on

  29. Impatient

    “Final exams for courses taught by sessional instructors will still be held as scheduled. Regardless of the instructor, students should prepare to write all final exams at the time and location already published. ”

    Thats the best I could find

  30. Commuter

    @ Impatient

    Hmm… either way it would have been a disruption. I guess the other universities are going into damage control mode to prevent them from experiencing what is happening to us?

  31. Impatient

    Looks that way, everyones learning from our mistakes. Just makes the situation more stressful. I mean I understand this time of year should be stressful since its exam time, but this is rediculous!

  32. Rocco

    Commuter: any time is a ‘heck of a time’ to have a labour disruption. Comments like that provide alleviation for what is occurring at York University right now.

    Don’t get me wrong — I’m not trying to pick on you. I’m just trying to assert the integrity of all the undergrad students at York right now.

    Based on the email above, the two sides seem to be on good terms; however, lots of progress is yet to be made. To me, this email is a representation of the first real negotiations taking place between the union and university. Four weeks just to sit down and discuss business? That’s ludicrous.

    At this point, I am just downright ashamed and disappointed by both CUPE 3903 and the University representatives.

    The biggest losers in all of this have been and always will be the students.

  33. Erin

    Oh G-d and I spent most of the day doing my school work thinking that the strike would be over this week.
    I’m tired of putting my life on hold waiting for this strike to be absolved.

  34. ram

    Negotiations Update: Nov. 27-30

    Update: Nov. 27-30

    On Thursday Nov. 27, the CUPE 3903 bargaining team met with representatives of York University to restart negotiations for a fair and equitable contract, with a view to ending the labour dispute that began on November 6th. After a full day of talks, the two parties agreed to meet again on Friday morning (Nov. 28) and throughout the weekend to continue with negotiations.

  35. ram

    The above post is the most recent one on the cupe website. These people are carrying on talks even tomorrow….

  36. Commuter

    The latest, from the National Post. Don’t get your heart set on going back this week:

    After two days of negotiations, a deal between York University and striking workers has not been reached, the National Post has learned.

    “Talks are still continuing, so we’re very positive about that,” CUPE 3903 chair Christina Rousseau said. “But right now, no deal is reached.”

    Rousseau said the union had hoped that the new offer they presented to the university would have made some leeway, and that it is disappointed that it did not.

    “We’re going into our fourth week this week, so we’re hoping this can get settled soon, but right now it’s not looking like that.”

    CUPE 3903, the union representing teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract faculty walked off the job on Nov. 6. The union is looking for a wage increase and better job security for contract faculty. The university has maintained that binding arbitration is the only way to reach a deal as soon as possible.

    50,000 students at York University have been out of classes since the strike began, with students at the Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall law school returning to classes in the last week. Due to the length of the strike, students will now have to make up the time either over the Christmas break or next summer. Exams were supposed to start for the students next week.

    “It’s very inconvenient for them, we’re really working hard to reach a settlement,” Rousseau said about the students who are out of classes righr now. “We’re just hoping that once classes are resumed that senate will make the transition back as seemless as possible.”

    More details as they become available.

  37. Commuter

    I wanted to include the source, but add it separately so at least the article would go through without moderation.


  38. Commuter

    @ Myself

    WHOA… did they say we might lose part of our Christmas Break, AND expect us to study over that SHORTENED break?!?

  39. bee

    is anyone taking ‘anonymous tipster’ comment above seriously…or is he/she just trying to scare us…

  40. Tom

    @ bee:

    Don’t bother taking them seriously. May be right, may be wrong; we’ll find out soon enough one way or another.

  41. pp

    I don’t think that is possible. The University has to close 10pm dec 23rd and open again on the morning on Jan 5th.

  42. bee

    york’s website has said they will not interfere with our christmas holidays, so we can be pretty confident that they don’t screw us over during the holidays

  43. bee

    i dont think my last post went through – but the university has said it won’t interfere with the holidays

  44. bee

    york has said they won’t interfere with the holidays, so we don’t need to worry about that

    why can’t i copy/pasta web link? when i try, my post won’t go through

  45. Commuter

    It probably needs to be moderated first, bee. Does it say “awaiting moderation”? It’ll eventually go through. They just don’t want links to explicit websites, viruses, etc. going through.

  46. bee


    no, when i hit ‘submit’ the page just refreshes, thanks tho. hopefully they don’t get posted, i tried about 3 times before i gave up.
    it was just a link to the FAQs Labour Disruption website on york’s site, in regards to the concern of classes being held during the christmas break.

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