Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Response to York University's latest propaganda piece.

See here (.pdf). This is a partial response.

Will binding arbitration reduce the “value” of the CUPE Local 3903 collective

No. The arbitrator will decide on the issues which remain outstanding between the University and the Union
based on the proposals which will be exchanged. All of the previously agreed-upon proposals and existing
collective agreement provisions not in dispute will remain as is. There are no Employer proposals on the table which would result in a reduction of wages or benefits. As such, employees represented by CUPE 3903 will continue to enjoy wages and benefits which are among the best in Canada and our 50,000 students can get back to the classroom immediately.
This is a lie. The University's proposals do amount to a reduction in wages and benefits as the University's offer is significantly below the rate of inflation.

Why aren’t the two sides at the table?

CUPE 3903 imposed its own deadline of 5:00 PM on Tuesday, November 4 for the end of negotiations prior
to its general membership meeting scheduled on Wednesday, November 5. Immediately following the general
membership meeting, the Union went on strike.

On Tuesday November 4 before the 5:00 PM deadline set by CUPE 3903, the University made a fair and
reasonable settlement offer to the Union which included wage increases of 9.25% over three years and
improvements to benefits and other provisions. The proposed wage increases of 9.25% over three years are
identical to the wage increases already agreed to and overwhelmingly ratified by members of YUSA and
CUPE 1356.

The Union has yet to make a proposal in response to the University’s settlement offer.
This is simply laughable. As I've said previously, as 3903 has said previously, 9.25% only seems reasonable given that YUSA and CUPE 1356 members already make more money. Furthermore, making this offer at the last minute -- a deadline not "imposed" by 3903, as the update claims, but required in order to present the offer to the membership -- is pretty far from good faith bargaining. The University knew when the Union would be considering going on strike; what took them so long to make this supposedly "reasonable" offer, exactly? One suspects they knew it was the last minute and deliberately made an offer they didn't expect to be taken seriously, so that they could spuriously assume some sort of moral high ground.

Furthermore, the Union is on strike. I'm not sure what other kind of response the University is waiting for. An engraved card of some kind? I'm also not sure what other kind of response can be made given that the University refuses to resume negotiations. It's sort of hard to make a counter-proposal when one party won't go to the table.

And there never would have been a strike if the University had bargained fairly to begin with instead of constantly pushing binding arbitration.

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