Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More nonsense from the York U admin

Lies, damned lies (.pdf). Count them with me.
Has the University’s proposal for binding arbitration prevented negotiations?
One. The University claims that they only started proposing binding arbitration after two months of negotiation. Hence, they say, this request has not stopped negotiations. Really? So why, in those two months, were there no significant moves on the University's part to get a negotiated settlement?
Is the University stonewalling to “wait out” CUPE 3903?
Two. The University acknowledges that CUPE 3903 has moved on the total cost of the package it is requesting. They then admit that they haven't moved in reply. How is this not stonewalling? Do they know what "stonewalling" means?
What will it take to get the parties back to the bargaining table at this time?
The University must see evidence through the mediator that CUPE 3903 is prepared to significantly modify its proposals to create a realistic basis for settlement.
Three. CUPE 3903 has revised its demands at least twice since the mediator declared talks over, and the University has made no significant movement in reply. (Indeed, I don't see any movement on their part.) Attempting to blame the Union for the shutdown of the University is yet another example of this administration's inability to negotiate fairly and honestly with employee groups.
Members of CUPE 3903 already enjoy wages, benefits and other provisions which are among the best in Canada - this has been repeatedly acknowledged by CUPE 3903 itself.
Four. This is a subtle lie, as it turns on ignoring one of CUPE 3903's central arguments, namely that their membership lives in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, hence needs high levels of compensation.
... especially in view of the very difficult financial context which exists both inside and outside the University.
Five. There are no good arguments to support the claim that the University cannot afford more than it has offered. There may be arguments to support the claim that the University cannot afford what CUPE 3903 is currently demanding, but that is the nature of negotiation: both sides need to work towards a middle ground. Right now, the University is refusing to move. That's not negotiation, and it's not something that can be justified.
Has the university asked for any concessions from CUPE 3903?
No. The University is seeking no concessions whatsoever in its proposals.
Six. The University's current offer would lead to a real-dollar reduction in compensation for 3903 members. Their offer doesn't even keep pace with inflation and cost-of-living changes, not to mention their continuing increase of the TA membership without subsequent increase to benefits funds.
Has the University provided a meaningful offer to address job security for contract faculty?
Seven. No one said they hadn't, so what's going on here is the University is swapping two similar claims around as if they are equivalent. On the one hand, there's a "meaningful offer" for job security. On the other hand, there's a "satisfactory offer" for job security. They have made the former, but clearly not the latter. So, they're not entitled to just sit on their current offer and wait for the Union to cave. And, when they claim that their meaningful offer is the same as a satisfactory offer, they are simply lying.
Is the University prepared to negotiate aspects of its comprehensive teaching stream proposal?
Eight. Lie of omission. The University won't negotiate the aspects that 3903 wants to negotiate. How hard is this to understand? Either all aspects are up for negotiation, or none are, but picking and choosing the ones that 3903 isn't all that worried about and claiming that as some sort of moral victory is absurd.
Has the University offered to continue tuition protection?
Nine. I don't recall anyone saying they weren't offering this.
What has the University proposed regarding fund enhancements?
The University has made a fund indexing proposal which is responsive to CUPE 3903’s proposed fund indexing for future growth in Union membership.
Ten. It still would lead to a reduction in per-member benefits. This is basic. And they clearly don't care to admit that, hence they make up weasel claims like this: that their proposal is "responsive" to CUPE 3903's proposal.
Is the University operating at a large surplus?
Eleven. Lie of irrelevance again. No one suggested that they were operating at a large surplus. What was suggested was that the deficits projected were not sufficient reason to continue to offer upper-level administrators significant pay increases and benefits packages while clawing back pay and benefits for front-line teaching staff. This point has still not been addressed by the University.
... annual deficits projected over the next 3 years, with 2% annual budget cuts being implemented in each of these years. Over the three year period of the budget plan, the cumulative budget cuts totaling 6%...
Twelve. You don't have to be an accountant to know that you can't just add up budget cuts across three years and call that a "cumulative cut" as if the final budget line at the end of the three years is 6% less than the budget line at the beginning of the three-year period. This doesn't take into account any possible changes in the financial situation over the three years which might increase the total budget monies available. In other words, it's a worst-case scenario -- which makes sense for financial planning purposes (expect the worst, hope for the best), but is pure spin in a labour negotiation.
Can the University afford CUPE 3903’s demands in excess of 20% over two years?
Thirteen. Not because they can afford it -- I suspect they can't. But because they treat this as a fixed number which cannot move based on negotiation. They also imply that their last offer is the best they can afford, which has not been established, nor is it particularly plausible. (After all, what kind of idiot makes their best offer before a looming strike?)
The University wants to settle this dispute by realistic and good faith negotiations at the table.
Fourteen. As long as they don't have to actually, y'know, negotiate on anything.

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