CUPE 3903 Unit 2 Signed Memorandum of Settlement Up For Ratification Vote Tonight

CUPE 3903 Executive have said Unit 2 should vote no and continue to strike. They have put out their reasons for this position. We have addressed each of those claims, as well as providing the many enhancements that have been achieved in this round of bargaining for the new Collective Agreement as they were not outlined in the CUPE Executive communication.


We encourage all employees in Unit 2 to review the Memorandum of Settlement and to vote at tonight’s ratification vote which is being held at 30 Tangiers Rd, North York (Unifor Local 112) from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

The CUPE 3903 Executive have said Unit 2 should vote no and continue to strike.  They have put out reasons for this position.  We have addressed each of those claims below. However, before doing so, we also wish to indicate the many enhancements that have been achieved in this round of bargaining for the new Collective Agreement as they were not set out in the CUPE 3903 Executive’s communication.

In addition to the 19 proposals already signed off by the parties (link to sign offs), the Memorandum provides many additional enhancements, including the following:

  • Sector-leading across-the-board salary increases of 2.1% in 2017-18, retroactive to September 1, 2017, 2.2% in 2018-19, and 2.3% in 2019-20
  • $50,000 towards operating cost of Lee Wiggins Childcare Centre
  • Joint committee on Childcare at Glendon and Markham
  • $137,000 annually for Professional Development Fund
  • $50,000 for a sexual violence survivor fund administered by the Union in 2018-19, with the issue of the administration of the fund and the amount of the fund thereafter referred to interest arbitration
  • $260,000 annually for the Childcare Fund
  • $220,000 for the CUPE 3903 Benefits Fund
  • $100,000 annually for retiree healthcare spending accounts with individual amounts of up to $1800
  • Health and Safety enhancements

The signed Memorandum of Settlement also send all of CUPE 3903’s remaining Unit 2 and central demands to interest arbitration. This means there will likely be more benefits in the new agreement. It is important to note that CUPE 3903 has also suggested referring most of these matters to arbitration. 

These include the terms related to:

  • the number of Conversion appointments
  • the Long Service Teaching Appointments (LSTAs)
  • Special Renewable Contracts
  • Qualifications
  • Nursing-specific qualifications and authorized replacements
  • Dental, Paramedical, Long Term Disability, and Vision Care Benefits
  • Paid Maternity Leave

In addition to the 16 issues referred to arbitration in the Memorandum, we are also referring one proposal CUPE 3903 had withdrawn, a Racial Discrimination Fund of $30,000, to arbitration as requested by the Unit 2 bargaining team as a sign of good faith.

Back-to-Work Protocol 

  • Guaranteed up front advance of 65% of salary that would have been earned to complete the Winter Term, with the possibility of earning up to 100% of regular salary based on amount of remediation work
  • If the Memorandum is ratified tonight with a return to work tomorrow, the University will make best efforts to create a late Summer Term where there is adequate student enrolment so as to create some employment opportunities for Unit 2 members prior to September.  This is in all of our interests and we will work to provide whatever we can for our students.

Comments Urging a No Vote

  • The Union claim that employees ought to reject the offer because there is no agreement on its proposed changes to the CSSP and statement that such a fix is unlikely at arbitration.

Changes to the CSSP is one of the issues which the Union has been seeking and the University declining since the commencement of negotiations. The only resolution of this is at interest arbitration.

The interest arbitration process is not a blunt instrument and involves mediation and fact finding. It is relevant that the creation of the LSTA program was the outcome of a mediated agreement between the parties during the mediation/arbitration process under the back-to-work legislation that ended the 2009 CUPE 3903 strike. The Union’s CSSP proposals are a barrier to settlement and can be dealt with at arbitration.

  • Summer and Fall Work

As noted above, if the settlement is ratified tonight with a return to work tomorrow, the University will make best efforts to initiate a late summer term where there are sufficient student enrolments so as to provide work opportunities for Unit 2 members prior to the fall term.

Importantly, the ratification of the agreement and end of the strike now will allow the University to initiate the posting and hiring process under the Unit 2 collective agreement and plan for fall offerings with the full participation of Unit 2 members.

The reality is that because of the strike deadlines, timelines and processes in the Collective Agreement will need to be abridged and accelerated to properly staff any summer work and the fall term. Fall postings would normally be completed before now.

  • Reprisals

Contrary to what is being reported, there are no Unit 2 members who have even been identified as engaging in unlawful behaviour during the strike nor any whom have attracted complaints from other community members under any University Code or statutory obligation. If there is a “yes” vote today there will be no penalties save if a complaint comes forward that requires the university to respond.

The University has agreed and has publicly stated that it will not discipline any member for any kind of lawful strike activities nor for dissent and vigorous debate.  We respect freedom of speech and the right to strike.

Contrary to some of what is being reported online, the University has not written / called or told any member of any of the three bargaining units that they will be disciplined.

Contrary to claims of people’s rights of free speech and dissent being trampled upon, the University has publicly stated its agreement with those rights and most importantly has agreed to have a neutral 3rd party review any discipline (see paragraph 2 of the Unit 2 RTW).

The University is fundamentally opposed to reprisals or retaliation of any kind through any means, including the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities. As noted in previous communications, the University cannot compromise its obligation to ensure safe work and learning spaces that are free from harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence and will, of necessity, receive and pursue complaints filed over instances of such behaviours. Receiving and pursuing complaints in these circumstances is not a reprisal or retaliation but a matter of meeting our responsibilities under law and University policy.

  • Breaking up Coordinated Bargaining

The Union is maintaining that all of the bargaining units should stay together and no one unit should sign a deal that works for the employees in that unit unless the other two are also satisfied. As noted by Industrial Inquiry Commissioner Kaplan, this has been part of the problem throughout these negotiations, this 2018 strike and throughout some of the historical difficulties in reaching agreements with CUPE 3903.

All ratification votes are Unit-by-Unit as a matter of law, and tonight’s ratification vote on the Unit 2 memorandum of settlement is no different.

Furthermore, the University has been compelled to file an unfair labour practice against CUPE 3903 regarding this matter as it believes the “all for one” bargaining is a breach of the Union’s duty to bargain in good faith for each bargaining unit’s interest.

We are disappointed that Unit 1 and Unit 3 have not elected to refer our offers from mediation to a ratification vote tonight, but that is their choice. If the Union wishes to be coordinated they could have voted all three units.

  • Continuation of Negotiations

There are Union communications suggesting that the University is about to make a move and negotiations are about to resume and break open. We do not understand these statements or this false claim. The University and all three Units are at an impasse.

The Industrial Inquiry Commissioner said it and, if that was not clear enough, the mediation with Kevin Burkett confirmed it yet again.

The offer accepted by the Unit 2 bargaining team is the best offer that will be tabled and importantly, the proposals lead in the sector in terms of wages, benefits and job security provisions with the potential for further enhancements arising out of the interest arbitration process.

In closing let us comment on the negotiations leading up to this day. CUPE 3903 and the representatives of each Unit approached bargaining with the goal to improve conditions for employees in each unit. We respected that and listened and attempted to respond in negotiations.  Significant improvements have been achieved.

Since the strike began York has been true to its word. We informed CUPE that we had put our best offer on the table on March 1 and we have essentially maintained that proposal although invariably during a strike there is pressure to provide more in an effort to bridge the gap.  We changed and improved several proposals as we hoped that enhancing our offers would bring a settlement. Rather than simply saying no on those items where the scale of change was deemed too great or irreconcilable with our own priorities we offered to go to arbitration to resolve the impasse.  We gave notice of our intentions and have then implemented what we have said. even as others have claimed that we would do otherwise. We have not overstated, nor engaged in fearmongering, personal attacks, nor even been particularly negative. Our goal has been to be clear and to reach an agreement to end the impasse. Despite efforts by two top labour mediators, the parties were unable even to reach agreement on the terms for referring outstanding issues to arbitration, let alone on the terms for a full negotiated settlement.

That some still are suggesting 100 days into the strike, and with a new government, that the University is about to suddenly give in to demands it has rejected is unfortunately only serving to needlessly extend the strike at the expense of our students, CUPE 3903 members, and the reputation of the University.

We ask all of you to add your voice to the decision in tonight’s ratification vote based on the facts – the facts of the offer, and the negotiating path that has led us to this point and the path that lies ahead following your decision. We are committed to working with you now and in the future on reconciliation and on advocacy to address longer term system-wide issues impacting higher education.