York University is committed to providing a supportive, healthy workplace environment for its faculty and staff members, who are all respected members of the University community. York, like many other Canadian universities, has collective agreements with faculty and staff employee unions. As such, collective bargaining and negotiations to renew collective agreements are a routine aspect of university life. Labour Relations at York University currently administers 14 collective agreements with different unions and is responsible for managing negotiations and collective agreements, personnel policies and procedures and other work-related topics.
The University, along with many other postsecondary institutions in Ontario, has recently been engaged in labour negotiations with CUPE 3903, the union for teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants at York U. As a student, labour relations negotiations and university governance may be unfamiliar to you. The #YUBlog has outlined the basic principles of labour negotiations below to help familiarize students with this process.
For more information about the negotiations, you can visit York U’s Labour Negotiation Update website and sign up for email updates to receive the latest news. The interests of students are paramount to York University and we are committed to integrity, openness and transparency in all labour relations. York has created this video to explain the current labour negotiations taking place and answer some frequently asked questions:
What is collective bargaining?
Collective bargaining is the means through which employers and unionized employees agree to clearly defined working conditions. When agreeable terms are reached, both parties sign a collective agreement. Collective bargaining is revisited and renewed in postsecondary institutions on a regular basis, typically every three years at York. Over the past 15 years, York U has negotiated 49 collective agreements and 46 of these were achieved with no disruption to operations.
What happens during the negotiations process?
The collective bargaining process is not unlike other negotiation processes. Bargaining commonly begins with employees coming together with their union to determine and prioritize new proposals they have for their employer. To address these proposals, employees and union representatives form a bargaining committee and meet at the “bargaining table” with Labour Relations to present and explain their proposals. Labour Relations will then respond with its own proposals and counteroffers on behalf of the University. As the parties begin to reach agreement on some issues, they may continue to make counteroffers over unresolved issues. Bargaining concludes when all issues are resolved.
If issues cannot be resolved, York U is prepared to have an independent arbitrator make unbiased, binding decisions on both parties. York is also prepared to use a mediator to assist in resolving outstanding negotiation issues.
What are the current contract negotiations about?
All Ontario universities have unionized employees, so collective agreement negotiations are a regular occurrence on most university campuses. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3903 represents four distinct groups of employees at York called bargaining units. At this time, York U’s bargaining team and CUPE’s bargaining units are coming together to negotiate salaries, benefits, working conditions and other issues. These are important issues and York is committed to discussing them with CUPE 3903 openly, transparently and honestly at the bargaining table. Similar negotiations take place when any collective agreement expires.
The goal in all of York U’s labour negotiations is to reach a renewed settlement without any disruption to the academic year.
Where can I learn more about negotiations?
Visit York U’s Labour Negotiation Update website to learn more about the negotiations and updates. You can find information about the bargaining process and get answers to frequently asked questions. You can also register on the site to receive updates by email.
York U is committed to supporting student success and looks forward to continuing to provide an inclusive, welcoming learning environment that fosters creativity, innovation and global citizenship.