The most recent collective bargaining meeting between CUPE 3903 and York took place on March 27. The meeting, which was facilitated by mediator Chris Albertyn, involved reviewing several equity proposals. However, no sign-offs have yet been made on the subjects of job security or hiring equity.
“Our bargaining team have been discussing issues of equity and job security in special intensive sessions with a mediator,” says CUPE 3903 Chairperson Vanessa Lehan-Streisel. “Our bargaining team has been working very hard to come up with proposals that will work for the university and there has been movement on both sides, but neither side has signed off on anything relating to these two areas yet.”
When asked about the university’s stance on these two key topics, York’s Deputy Spokesperson Yanni Dagonas referred Excalibur to a statement on behalf of the university.
“Throughout the bargaining process the university has expressed its commitment to negotiate language in the renewed collective agreements that focuses on equity issues,” the statement said.
“Given the importance of these issues, the university — in anticipation of our March 27 bargaining meeting — prepared a detailed package of four equity-related proposals that were presented to CUPE 3903 Unit 2, that included language related to the joint University-CUPE 3903 employment equity committee, definitions, terminology, data, understandings of under-representation, and the application of equity considerations in appointment processes.”
CUPE 3903’s bargaining team stated that the majority of the meeting was spent on one of these proposals, a section called Article 5.03. According to the team’s bargaining report, the university’s changes to certain language “release the employer from much responsibility in collecting and reporting data related to equity.”
“This language determines how we measure and define underrepresentation, and thus, when equity hiring is stated as a central goal, we want to be careful to note and evaluate every suggested change to ensure that we are actually working towards redressing racialized underrepresentation,” the team stated on their website.
Lehan-Streisel also says that the discussions related to nursing proposals, which were touched upon in the previous update, are still ongoing.
“We haven’t made any progress on nursing proposals yet,” Lehan-Streisel says. “The Proof of Practice requirement is a huge issue for our clinical course directors. The employer responded to our request to eliminate the Proof of Practice requirement (which is unique to York) with a proposal to rename the requirement, but to keep everything else the same.
“They have refused to discuss issues relating to overwork of the clinical course directors and, in general, the university does not seem committed to helping us fix some of the serious issues faced by our members in the school of nursing,” she adds.
One agreement has occurred, with York signing off to make the union’s Sexual Assault Survivor Support Fund (SASSF) a permanent fund, and allow the to union adjudicate it. The SASSF is a fund meant to help union members who are survivors of sexual assault cover costs like legal support, lost wages, and counselling.
Lehan-Streisel says that while this sign-off is on a “relatively minor point,” it will be very meaningful to union members: “It will mean a lot to our members since it will allow us to address situations where members need emergency funding very quickly.”
As for the future of upcoming bargaining meetings, the bargaining team shared a statement with Excalibur regarding their ongoing concerns.
“We remain optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement with York during this round of bargaining,” they stated. “However, we are increasingly concerned about York’s union-busting attacks on Unit 3 of our union. York’s proposals do not address some of the key issues we have raised, including the misclassification of Graduate Assistant positions.”
The team added that they hope York changes its stance on Unit 3, which is composed of full-time graduate students with graduate assistantships or research assistantships. “York continues to rob graduate students who do research of union benefits and protections, including union health insurance, pay, and job security,” the statement reads. “We hope that York will reconsider its approach to Unit 3, allowing us to quickly and amicably reach an agreement.”
According to York Media, the next meetings with Unit 2 regarding job stability and equity proposals will take place on April 10 and 11, and meetings with all three units will take place on April 19, 22 and 27.