On June 18, the No Board Report from York was issued, igniting a 17-day mediation down period between the university and the bargaining team for CUPE 3903. Following this mediation period, a legal lockout can then be enacted.
A lockout is devised by the employer, in this case York, rather than the union, and legally prevents the workers from attending their jobs.
According to Firoza Elavia, CUPE 3903’s communications officer, the bargaining team also received a letter from York on June 22 stating that the mediation period will be extended until July 10.
“Moving towards a lockout on the heels of the sign-off, and our willingness to drop proposals, shows to me that there is no impasse, only a lack of willingness to engage in meaningful movement at the bargaining table towards a fair agreement,” says Elavia.
The university cites “some progress towards an agreement” referring to the accord that the teams reached on Ticketed Course Directorships for Unit 1.
However, Elavia contends that this filing of the No Board Report by York “undermines the progress” that was previously being made, casting “doubt on their previously stated commitment to improve employment equity at York.”
On June 23, a Special General Membership Meeting (SGMM) was held by CUPE on the Strike Mandate Voting. In this meeting, Elavia told Excalibur that as a result of York’s “lack of willingness to engage” in bargaining, the membership voted to move ahead with the proposed strike mandate.
“In support of the bargaining team, the membership felt that a strong strike mandate would induce the Employer to move faster and more substantively in bargaining, and it would be the best way to avoid their lockout,” states Elavia.
In terms of student responses, there have been a frenzy of online comments expressing a variety of emotions surrounding the recent announcement. On the subreddit dedicated to York, students have expressed shock, concern, confusion, and more.
One York subreddit user commented a more positive takeaway. “Honestly, I would much rather prefer labour action in the summer than the fall,” they wrote.
The user added that they felt “the No Board Report was a very clever move by York,” as they hope it might push the timeline earlier and “avoid labour action in the fall.”
Update #26 verifies York’s request and initiation of the 17-day cooldown period. The update states: “The university believes if the bargaining teams continue to meet and work hard with the assistance of the conciliation officers and mediator Chris Albertyn (on Unit 2 issues), we will reach negotiated agreements at the bargaining table.”
Unfortunately for the York community, agreements may still be a ways away.
“It is a sad situation when the employer flexes muscle for a legal lockout, deliberating on its use to an already anxious student population reeling from a pandemic,” Elavia says.
The No Board Report reads: “It is our goal to avoid a labour disruption. We believe that if the bargaining teams work hard with the assistance of the conciliation officers and mediator Chris Albertyn (on Unit 2 issues), negotiated collective agreements can be achieved prior to any deadline.”