Collective bargaining between York and CUPE 3903 (Units 1, 2, and 3) continues, with mediation meetings occurring on March 13 and 14, and discussions within the groups still ongoing. These meetings were facilitated by mediator Chris Albertyn, and similar to the previous few weekends, the main priorities were job security and hiring equity.
“Last weekend was our third full weekend of mediated sessions on job security and hiring equity, but while there has been some movement, there is as of yet no agreement and no sign-offs,” says CUPE 3903 Chairperson Maija Duncan.
At the March 13 meeting, the union presented their list of job security proposals and outlined a set of five major job security principles they hold. The principles include security and equity for the majority of union members, steady work and liveable income, recognition of seniority and incumbency, transparent programs, and a respectful work culture.
On the subject of job security, Albertyn requested that the union review York’s Continuing Appointment Program proposal, and incorporate elements of it into their own proposals. The bargaining team noted that the program seems “designed with many ways to fail to provide security,” and opted to use a few elements of the proposal to “achieve the goal of fixing the Continuing Sessional Standing Program (CSSP), a job security program for lower to mid-seniority members.”
York’s Deputy Spokesperson Yanni Dagonas referred Excalibur to a statement on behalf of the university when asked about the ongoing negotiations.
“The university is committed to ensuring that our proposals and ultimately the renewed collective agreement advance equity. The university understands that this issue is critical to the respective bargaining teams and all members of CUPE 3903 and the broader York community,” the statement said.
York stated that they presented the bargaining team with three proposals related to equity at the recent meeting. “These proposals focus on the infrastructure of equity within the collective agreement (i.e., the employment equity committee, definitions, terminology, data, and understandings of “under-representation”) and the application of equity considerations in appointment processes.”
However, the union raised some concerns about York’s responses to their equity hiring proposals.
“York’s proposal asks for these payouts to come out of the Union’s Ways and Means fund, instead of being paid by the Employer,” they stated. “The bargaining team strongly believes that the cost of equity measures to address systemic racism at York should not be borne by our members, and that it is the university’s responsibility to financially support its stated commitment to equity.”
Duncan mentions that a focus outside the weekend bargaining sessions has been issues within the School of Nursing, stating that these proposals are a “perfect example of how job security and equity can work together.”
Duncan says that nursing is one of the most racialized departments at York, and the union members there are facing “confusing and inconsistent hiring practices, unreasonable expectations (such as being available 24/7 for meetings about students, while being denied flexibility in the event of their own illness), and an overall discriminatory work environment.”
Furthermore, Duncan says: “They’ve adapted quickly to the pandemic, shifting to virtual simulation in some cases, which has had a huge impact on workload. In many cases they continued to work as front-line nurses. We are not making a lot of progress on Nursing-specific proposals, but we hope York will see that if all workers deserve a respectful work environment, this is doubly true for nurses working during a pandemic.”
York and CUPE 3903 are discussing additional dates for mediated bargaining, and York has stated that they are available for additional dates with the mediator on the weekend of March 27 and 28.