York Letter To CUPE 3903 Bargaining Teams

May 11, 2018

Dear Devin and the CUPE 3903 bargaining teams,

Re:  CUPE 3903 and York University

We have reviewed your letter of last night, your press release and the communication posted to your social media.  We understand that you did not bring our Terms of Settlement offers provided to you on May 8 to your membership for a vote or for discussion. Nor did you respond to us or attend at the meeting we invited you to attend at the Sheraton last weekend to discuss settlement in light of the Kaplan Report.

Now you have written and made a cryptic reference to a “new settlement framework” and a “without prejudice offer” with a deadline of May 14th.  When we followed up you refused our request to immediately provide the offer so that we can assess it and suggested “independent mediation”.

In the absence of any offer, settlement framework or the proposals to assess them, or any indication that your bargaining teams have any authority or intention to significantly alter positions or agree to interest arbitration on the redline issues, we see no value in engaging.

Furthermore, given the 11:59 p.m. May 10 timeframe has now passed:

  • the University must proceed to confirm summer term courses on the understanding that CUPE 3903 members are not available to accept work assignments
  • the back to work protocol which guaranteed that your members would receive between 85% and 100% of the pay for the Winter Term will be void
  • we will not be in a position to move forward with the 2017-18 conversion appointments.

The union does not appear to have heard or accepted any of what has been discussed throughout bargaining, conciliation, mediation or through the twenty-one day period of settlement efforts by the Industrial Inquiry Commission or the Commission Report itself.

The Industrial Inquiry Commissioner wrote:

As Local 3903 observed – correctly in my view – in social media, “Arbitration should only be considered when attempts at bargaining have failed.” The union has indicated that interest arbitration may be a viable method of resolving collective bargaining impasses, but it is a “last resort.” Free collective bargaining has failed. There is no reason to believe that it will succeed in the future through the prolongation of the labour dispute, and every reason to conclude that it will not. It is, accordingly, my primary and most time sensitive recommendation to the Minister that he call upon the parties to enter into consensual interest arbitration: for their own good, and for the good of thousands of students and the university.

Now over sixty days into the strike, the CUPE 3903 Bargaining Teams have rejected these findings even as they were subsequently endorsed by both the Ministers of Labour and MAESD and in doing so have ignored your own statements on arbitration cited above.  Unless you indicate in writing how your positions have substantially changed and/or that interest arbitration is now acceptable, we remain at an impasse.

As we have repeatedly indicated, we are prepared to meet and work with you to reach a settlement that will end the strike as soon as there is evidence of a path to do so. The necessary evidence must not only include details about the proposed path to resolution but a clear and unequivocal confirmation the bargaining team has the authority to negotiate modifications of its positions, including the redlines, in order to create the basis of a settlement or to agree to arbitration on the outstanding issues.  At present we have neither of these.

We acknowledge the heavy costs of the reduction in the summer term on your members, and on the University as a whole.  This is regrettable and was unnecessary, as agreeing to interest arbitration would have allowed our dispute to be resolved fairly by an independent third party, while ending the strike immediately.  In order to fulfil the University’s mission we are guided by a longer term view, and accepting the demands that CUPE 3903 has put forward is simply not an option.

We will now focus our energies on addressing and minimizing the impact of your strike on the many students, families, prospective employers and others who are affected, until such time as we can see an acceptable path forward.

Yours very truly,

Simon E. Mortimer

Click here to download the full PDF letter.

CUPE Letter to York University

Dear President Lenton,

We are approaching the end of week 10 of the strike. In the 66 days since the strike began, we are disappointed that the employer has only made a single effort to return to the bargaining table.

It is now time for the university to show leadership and come back to the bargaining table, respect the collective bargaining process, and negotiate a fair settlement.

We, the bargaining team, have been asked by our membership to present the employer with a new framework for settlement. We ask you to engage with this framework through independent mediation. This offer is without prejudice and expires on Monday, May 14.

The offer of settlement that was sent on May 7 has not been accepted. However, we are glad to see that the employer is willing to move. This shows that the impasse which you have spoken about at length is clearly broken, if it ever existed. Let's work together to fashion that into a deal and ensure that our students are able to complete the winter and summer terms.

A forced ratification has failed. Back-to-work legislation has failed. While the university wasted several weeks waiting for these strategies to favour the employer, that time could have been better spent bargaining and negotiating a deal at the table.

The refusal to bargain is not working for anyone. A significant portion of faculty councils, departments, and graduate student’s associations have voted in favour of non-confidence motions against the Board of Governors and your handling of this strike. In fact, on May 9, governor McFadden signed a pledge in favour of the university returning to the bargaining table in good faith.

For the sake of the students, if not of the finances and reputation of the university, we ask that you do not wait any longer. CUPE 3903 has been willing to bargain for weeks. We believe there is an end in sight for what has been a difficult time for the entire community.

We await your response.


CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team

Click here to download the full PDF letter.