York University committed to reaching a fair deal

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Mar 2, 2018

Dear Student,

York University committed to reaching a fair deal

Our students and their academic success guides every decision we make at York University, that includes the full-time students who hold part-time jobs in CUPE 3903.

Our students were uppermost in all of our decisions prior to and during negotiations to reach a fair deal with CUPE 3903.

What’s fair?

Everyone has a different idea of what’s fair.

What we can say is that our teaching assistants, contract faculty, and graduate assistants have the best total compensation package of any Ontario university. Our offer, which CUPE 3903 recommends be rejected, will keep members of CUPE 3903 the leaders in total compensation over the next three years.

Our offer includes a wage increase that exceeds recent settlements at all other Ontario universities.

Our offer also increases childcare funds and subsidies, health benefit funds and other employee funds, establishes LGBTQ as an equity group, adds other equity provisions, introduces a paid sexual violence leave and much more.

We think this is a fair offer.

PhD “Ticketed” Course Directorships

We think it is fair that the number of opportunities for PhD students to teach a course increases in proportion with the growth in the number of PhD students. The number of “ticketed” course directorships has not changed since it was first established more than 20 years ago, even though the number of full-time PhD students over the same period has almost doubled. Our initial proposal sought to capture the growth in PhD students. We lowered the proposed increase in tickets as a compromise in response to the Union’s opposition. The Union has flatly refused to discuss this issue, as it also did in the last round of negotiations. Recognizing that this proposal, and Unit 2 job security, could pose a barrier to an agreement we have offered to let an independent third-party arbitrator decide what’s fair and make a binding decision and see no reason for a strike when there is an alternative.

Graduate students are students first

We think it’s fair that we treat graduate students as students first.

We introduced our York Graduate Fellowship to better support student success by providing tax-free funding without imposing a requirement to work.

We continue to hear allegations of “union busting.” The University did not shift the work of graduate assistants to non-union employees. These allegations are debunked in our document Setting the Record Straight, which we have shared with the Union. We think that’s fair to our graduate students, many of whom have indicated their preference for the fellowship.

Commitment to academic excellence

While recognizing the job security concerns of our contract faculty colleagues, we believe it is fair that the University use the same open and collegial search process as all other universities as the principal mechanism for hiring tenure stream faculty.

We are increasing the number of full-time faculty at York through open and collegial searches to which contract faculty may apply. To support contract faculty in their application and competitions for full-time faculty positions, our offer includes a new Career Advancement Program.

Providing job security

At the same time, we have responded to CUPE’s concerns about job security for contract faculty.

We are offering to create a minimum of eight full-time faculty positions in each of the next three years, with two of those as conversions to tenure stream faculty and six of those as Special Renewable Contracts.

This is in addition to an increase in the total number of Long Service Teaching Appointments in the CUPE 3903 Unit 2 collective agreement, which guarantee a minimum of three courses per year for three years, from 60 to 75.

We think all of this is fair and balances the need to ensure the academic success of our students with the demands of CUPE 3903.

On the issue of conversions and Special Renewable Contracts, the University has offered to let an independent third-party arbitrator decide what’s fair and make a binding decision.

No need for a strike

We continue to believe that there is no need for a strike. We have been and continue to be fully committed to reaching a collective agreement and to supporting our contract colleagues to the best of our ability within the constraints that we all operate under at York and in the system. We have provided an offer that leads among all other universities, and for the issues that are of greatest importance to CUPE 3903, we are willing to let an independent third-party arbitrator decide and help us reach a settlement.

You can find information on our positions, details on what we are offering to address union concerns as well as what we wanted to help our students at yorku.ca/labour.

We ask you to take a look at the details on the website and decide for yourselves what’s fair.

Most importantly, we encourage all members to attend the important Union meeting today in the Tait McKenzie Main gym from 11:30am to 3:30pm and vote to ensure that the outcome, regardless of what it is, reflects the views of as many employees as possible.

York University