CUPE 3903, the union that represents 3400 contract professors, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, and research assistants at York University, has ratified a new collective agreement.
On January 29, the union was legislated back to work after an 85-day strike, the longest in English-speaking Canadian university history. Binding arbitration was scheduled to follow. But through mediated negotiation, arbitrator Kevin Burkett was able to bring the two parties together to arrive at a mediated settlement. Union members voted on the contract from April 21 to 24.
The agreement, reached on April 7, addresses to the fullest extent possible at this time several of the union’s key concerns–among them, job security for contract professors, improved health benefits, and fund indexation so that benefits are not reduced as our membership grows.
One of the major outcomes of this agreement is the creation of long-service teaching appointments, which provide a measure of job stability for contract professors who have been teaching at the University for over 10 years.
According to contract professor, and CUPE 3903 bargaining team member, Lykke de la Cour, “The LSTA program begins to address job security provisions within our own collective agreement, and it’s something that we can build on in future rounds of bargaining. These appointments represent the first time that a mechanism to stabilize teaching appointments and workloads for contract faculty has been achieved in a CUPE collective agreement in Canada.”
“We’ve achieved as much as is possible in one round of negotiation on a local level,” adds teaching assistant and chief negotiator Graham Potts. “Next round, we’ll be engaging in co-ordinated bargaining. Our contracts expire right before the next provincial election, so we’re going to push for a much-needed provincial commitment to higher education.”