Members of the CUPE 3903 met with York University yesterday in the hopes of resuming bargaining and seeing some appreciable movement from the University on our proposals. But the Employer walked out of negotiations after only 15 minutes at the bargaining table.
York University has yet again posted misleading information on its website. While it claims that CUPE 3903 is “still demanding 41% in wage, benefit and other economic increases” compared to the 9.25% that the University has offered, this is a gross distortion of the facts.
CUPE 3903’s wage demands are not that far off what the University has offered. CUPE 3903 is asking for a 11% increase over two years, while the University has offered 9.25% over three years. CUPE 3903 has moved significantly on its wage demands, dropping from an initial proposal of 30% to a 7% and 4% increase over a two-year contract. The University has only increased its offer slightly, from a formula of 2%-2%-2.5% to 3%-3.5%-3%, over a three-year period.
In light of a 28% membership growth since 2005, CUPE 3903 is seeking increases to benefit and support funds in order to bring funding levels back up to their 2005 level. We are also requesting that these funds be indexed to membership growth, which is expected to increase substantially in the next few years with the expansion of graduate enrolments. So far the University has responded very poorly to this issue. For example, due to the increase in CUPE 3903’s membership over the last three years, the university’s contribution to on-campus childcare for members with childcare needs has dropped from 30% to 11%. Currently, the fund only allows coverage for 30 members a year. CUPE 3903 has requested an increase of $150,000 to the childcare fund. So far the university has responded with a counter-proposal of $1,500.
The University has not bargained in any meaningful way around job security for long-term Contract Faculty. They have not indicated whether the Conversion Program will be maintained, and their proposal around Long Service Teaching Contracts actually intensifies job insecurity for Unit 2 members.
CUPE 3903 members find it quite hypocritical to suggest that CUPE 3903 is being ‘unreasonable’ in its wage demands, when York Administrators clearly have not had any problem in giving themselves ‘excessive’ wage increases. Over the past three years, CUPE 3903 members had an overall wage increase of 6%. However, during this same time period, one Associate Dean received a 43% wage increase, the University’s President’s salary rose by 39%, and the Registrar had a 34% salary increase. The Senior Director, Admissions Communications and Client Services saw her annual income rise by 28%. The salary for the Director of Media Relations, currently Alex Bilyk, rose 24%. Many other Deans and top ranking administrators had wage increases ranging from 15 to 26%.
CUPE 3903 went back to the bargaining table on November 13th hoping to see some reasonable indication from the University about their willingness to take the bargaining process seriously. As was pointed out at our rally on Wednesday and on our website, binding arbitration in neither a sound nor a democratic solution to the current impasse in negotiations. Fair bargaining is the only answer here. The University’s administration has wasted over a week of valuable negotiating time by continuing to press for binding arbitration, despite its OWN clear opposition to it in the past (see www.3903strike.ca).
If York’s administration is as committed to students’ concerns as they claim to be, why have they waited so long to come back to the table? Why did they stay only 15 minutes?