UNIT 1 Bargaining Team currently preparing to negotiate a new Collective Agreement (expires September 6, 2019):
- Michael Curran
- Gerry Boily
Phil Wachel, 4207 President, ex officio.
We have received letters of support from Brock unions:
BUFA — full time faculty
OSSTF district 35 — support staff
CUPE 1295 — custodians, maintenance and trades workers, food workers and some BUSU employees
And from a labour union outside of Brock:
OSSTF district 21 OSSTF – Hamilton-Wenworth district representing highschool teachers
MARCH 15 UPDATE
We have been without a Collective Agreement since September, and have been negotiating with Brock University since the summer. In that time, we have agreed to only a few minor articles, and many of the concerns that members have raised have gone unresolved. We have been seeking improvements to our working conditions, including stronger language on cap space for seminars and labs, increased funding for our benefits, and better language on postings. We are also seeking to gain equal pay for equal work for instructors, improvements to the grad student supplement, and some permanency for high senior members. In response, the university has proposed slashing the time we have to respond to offers of employment from two weeks to 48 hours, and to give them the ability to terminate grad student members who cease being in the priority pool while working. We want to make improvements to our working conditions, and it is increasingly clear that we will need to take job action to win even the most modest of gains.
We are adjusting to meeting formats and considering other measures to be socially responsible given the context.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 23 2020
Frustrated with this development we then indicated to the Conciliator (not to the employer) that we are requesting a no board report.
What is a no board report?
A no board report (the name carries a historical reference to a three party board to act as mediator) can be requested by any one of the two parties to negotiations, should there be an impasse in conciliation. The conciliator submits the request to Ministry of Labour, which doesn’t send any board to conciliate (hence ‘no board’), but acknowledges and releases the notification of this report and from that date begins the ‘cool off’ period of 17 days – a count down to legal strike (or lock out) date. In this ‘cool off’ period the union and the employer are required to communicate and often a mediator comes to assist the parties in reaching an agreement.
The second day of the two day conciliation is on Friday, February 28. Observers are welcome to attend! Please contact the union firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you are interested in coming to observe the conciliation process!
STRIKE MANDATE VOTE
Why to vote YES?
We have been without a Collective Agreement since September 2019, and negotiations for a new collective agreement have been proceeding slowly. The university has not bargained seriously since the summer, and we have agreed to only a few minor issues. The University is not willing to consider any of the bargaining priorities that we had ratified last year. Instead, they seem content on not accepting any gains, and instead are seeking to weaken the language that protects our working conditions. Because of this, we need to send a strong message to the University that they need to take us seriously. To do this, we need a strong strike mandate vote!
A strike mandate vote is not a vote for a strike. It is a legal requirement under the Ontario Labour Relations Board. A strong strike vote will send a message that we are united for a stronger collective agreement.
Of course, this is nothing new. In past rounds of bargaining, real movement has often begun only after a strong Yes vote. We do not want to go on strike. No one does. But the best way to avoid one is to demonstrate that we are ready for one. Vote YES to give a strike mandate to get a fair collective agreement!
We are much apart on these CORE ISSUES: Class Sizes Caps, Wages, Bill 124, Health Plan (benefits), Grad student members issues and permanent positions for senior members.
The MONDAY meeting is an information QA townhal and on TUESDAY we hold general meeting GMM, essentially also QA discussion on strike mandate but with the ability to make membership decisions and vote on them.
OBSERVERS: We are ‘allowed’ to bring up to five members-observes to the negotiation meetings. Check out the dates below and if interested, let us know by emailing more than 24 hours before the bargaining date. You can then attend the meeting as an observer – this means that you have no voice while negotiations are going on, and that you simply observe.
December 23, 2019
Bargaining Meetings #15 / 16 / 17
Bargaining has reached a point where a Conciliator’s assistance is necessary. On December 20, I asked our National rep to file for Conciliation on December 23.
There are lots of open articles, so the parties have agreed to meet twice in the new year (January 13 from 9:00am – 2:00pm and all day on January 21. Room: ST 1126).
We met 3x with the employer last week (Dec. 17, 18 and 20). There were CUPE 4207 Observers present of two of the three days.
On December 17, we provided our final monetary proposal: Benefits.
– Year 1: 1.9% of 2019 Payroll
– Year 2: 2.9% of 2019 Payroll
– Year 3: 3.9% of 2019 Payroll
The Employer had already indicated on Dec. 12 that they have no interest in increasing Unit 1 Benefits over the current $100 000 / year. It should be noted that a Benefits payment of
$100 000 / year is approximately 0.9% of 2017 total payroll for CUPE 4207, Unit 1.
This is in stark contrast to the approximately 10% being contributed to Benefits in many workplaces where Benefits are provided.
On December 17, the parties signed off on Article 18 (Information).
New language will allow any member to be provided with Student Teaching Evaluations upon request.
December 18 saw a Letter of Understanding signed by the parties: Early Instructor Access to Library and Email Privileges.
There was also a signoff of Article 21 (General) on December 18.
– Library access will be given to members for 6 months after a contract ends
(codifying a current practice)
-New language on T2200 tax forms in the Collective Agreement
(A member can be issued the form if she meets the following threshold)
1) She performs the majority of her work off-campus.
2) She does not have access to an office at Brock.
As always, we need Observers at our meetings. If you are interested in attending as an Observer (for the day or for an hour), please reach out to the union in advance of the meeting.
Phil Wachel, CUPE 4207 President
Bargaining Meeting #14
Canadian Benefits is the Consulting Group that we use for Unit 1 Benefits. On December 12, Joyce Strasbourg (Chief Underwriter for Canadian Benefits) made a Benefits presentation for information purposes. Roy Rastrick, CEO of the company was present as well.
Ms. Strasbourg explained to both the Union and the Employer why the current plan model (Opting-in for Benefits) is less sustainable and how an Employer Withdrawal of the Employee Portion of Benefits, with an Opt-out Model will drive down premiums.
Ms. Strasbourg also costed out the Employer contribution necessary to make the venture viable for the long term. That amount is 1.9% per year of total CUPE 4207, Unit 1 Payroll (At the inception of the plan, the Employer contributed a miniscule 0.9% of payroll toward Unit 1 Benefits, which is even lower now with the growth of salaries since 2017). Mr. Rastrick noted that Employers typically contribute 10% of payroll to pay for an employee group’s Benefits.
It did not take long for the Employer to get back to the Union to inform us that they are not willing to do direct withdrawal for U1 Benefits, nor are they willing to increase their Benefits contribution.
The Employer also provided us with a document tracking the open items and agreed to items thus far in Bargaining.
Bargaining Meeting #12 and #13
Bargaining between the parties showed no progress over two days.
Actually, the face-to-face meeting on December 9 was finished in 30 minutes !
The Employer refuses to engage in any meaningful negotiation with the Union.
The Employer has said no to virtually all of our non-monetary Proposals:
– No to adding a H&S rep at the Hamilton Campus
– No substantive changes to the Posting and Appointment process
– No to a Blanket application process for members who want to work
The Union presented an almost complete Monetary Proposal (other than Benefits) to the
University during our 30 minute meeting:
– 35 Permanent positions for Senior members
(35 hours per week, 9 months per year, with full benefits and tuition waiver)
Permanent members would be able to apply for Spring work using their Seniority
– Elimination of the tiers for TAs
Currently, undergraduate TAs make substantially less than TAs who have a degree
– An Upgrading of Instructor stipends so that they are equivalent to BUFA’s rate for BUFA
members who do Overload Teaching.
– Tuition Indexation based on 2019 for Grad Students who are working in CUPE 4207 positions
– An Increase to the Graduate Student Supplement (currently $250 per term)
– $300 per term starting in Fall, 2019
– $350 per term in starting Fall, 2020
– $400 per term in Fall, 2021
-An increase to Vacation Pay Entitlement that is in line with Permanent workers at Brock
(currently 4%; 6% for members with 5 years of service)
– 4% – Up to one year
– 6% – 1 to 2 years
– 8% – 3 to 15 years
At our December 12 Bargaining Meeting, the union has invited Canadian Benefits (our Benefits consulting firm) to make a presentation to the employer.
Bargaining Meeting #11 on November 26 in ST 1126
One CUPE 4207 Observer attended the meeting.
The Parties were able to agree to changes to Article 16: Seniority. The change is an improvement to language around how Seniority ceases. A member will be able to leave a contract before it is finished if a reasonable explanation is provided to one’s Supervisor and not lose Seniority.
There was a discussion on better / additional Office Space for the Union. I have been provided with a Space Request Form that I will be submitting to Facilities Management.
Bargaining meetings on November 21 and 22nd (meetings number 9 and 10)
Two CUPE 4207 Observers the meetings (one Observer each day).
The University and the Union could not agree to a single Article over two full days of Bargaining.
Discussion on the Posting Period was had. The current language states that postings for Fall should happen between April 1 and August 7. The Union has proposed that Fall / Winter postings happen between April 15 and July 1. We have also proposed that Spring / Summer work should happen between January 15 and March 15. The University has proposed that the Posting Period for Fall / Winter should happen between April 15 and July 30. No agreement on this item has been reached yet.
The University continues to ask for Instructor Preference in Hiring for Ph. D. Students. The last pass from the University included two requirements:
– The Ph. D. student would be limited to teaching 1.0 credits during their degree
– The Instructor work can not happen until Year 2 of the Ph. D.
The Union is not willing to entertain the idea of Instructor Preference in Hiring for
Ph.D. Students further unless the University can formulate a Proposal that does not disadvantage a single Instructor. So far, this has not happened.
Currently, the language on Loss of Seniority is vague when it comes to a member dropping a work assignment (ex: dropping one work assignment for a more favourable one). This could technically be construed as being Abandonment of Contract, which is grounds for Loss of Seniority. The Union continues to try to negotiate language that would clearly state that dropping work assignments does not constitute a Loss of Seniority.
The Parties have discussed adding language that would allow a member to request Student Teaching Evaluations.
Bargaining meetings on November 4, 5 and 6th
One CUPE 4207 observer attended each Bargaining meeting (a different observer each day).
All in all, the three consecutive days of bargaining proved to be frustrating.
On November 4, a Letter of Understanding (LOU) was signed off. Members will continue to be paid via the Workday schedule for the life of the Collective Agreement (CA). The “pay to date” language remains in the CA.
As well, a very minor change to Article 7 was agreed to on November 4. Language was change that recognizes the fact that the University can file policy grievances (In practice, this is extremely rare).
The Allocation of Hours (AOH) form appears in the back of the CA. The parties agreed to make small changes to the form. Currently, the AOH form mentions that the form was prepared by the Course Supervisor (who is usually the Course Instructor – a CUPE 4207 member or a BUFA member). The new version of the form will state that the form was prepared by the Instructor, Course Coordinator or Senior Lab Demonstrator. The form also states that “Questions about this form or your employment under this contract including absence should be directed to the Primary Course Contact”.
The Employer does not see our tuition Indexation proposal as a work issue, but rather as a student issue. We mentioned how tuition indexation is addressed in some collective agreements.
We introduced a proposal that would see members get library access after a contract ends. It was noted that library access is for employees only. The Union mentioned that this is not always the case, for example, BUFA retirees get library access as non-employees of the University.
We pitched the idea that members doing joint committee work (e.g., Anti-Smoking Task Force) should be paid for their time. The Employer did not say no to this proposal (but did not agree to it, either).
We pitched a significant increase to the Cancelation Stipend (similar to what the folks at CUPE 3902 get). The Employer listened to our Proposal, but in the end deferred it since it is a monetary item.
The Union provided a counter to the Employer proposal to increase preference in hiring to Instructor work. Our counter set a rigid set of conditions for this to be implemented.
A few of the conditions:
– 0.5 credit in the last year of the degree
– 30 students class cap
– The work would be an additional section of a course
– The Instructor would not have to TA the first seminar of the course.
– A Marker-Grader or Course Coordinator would be hired for the section.
We meet again on November 21 and 22. If you would like to attend as an Observer for either (or both) days, please email the union email@example.com
Fifth meeting with the Employer October 29
Two CUPE observers attended the meeting. Much of the day was spent discussing Union Proposals regarding “Immediate Supervisor” and “Workload and Allocation of Hours”.
The Union proposed that a Supervisor (“the Chair”) can designate an Immediate Supervisor, who could be the Course Instructor. The Immediate Supervisor would do tasks like crafting Allocation of Hours forms. The Employer balked at the term “Immediate Supervisor”.
The Union will submit an updated Proposal that combines the Union’s “Immediate Supervisor” and “Workload and Allocation of Hours” Proposals at the next meeting.
Two Articles were signed off: Article 7 (Grievance Procedure) and Article 24 (Employment Accommodation) (formerly Employment Accommodation for Employees with Disabilities).
Article 7 saw a change which references the fact that both the Union and the Employer can file grievances. (Although the employer filing a policy grievance is a highly irregular occurrence.) Article 24 saw a housekeeping change where a new university policy name is now being referenced properly (Employment Accommodation).
The Union drafted a Letter of Understanding [LOU] that proposes to pause our previous pay style, “Paid to Date”, rather than remove it because it does not exist with WorkDay. The Employer will respond to this LOU at the next meeting, November 4th. See the schedule of meetings at our bargaining page https://4207.cupe.ca/bargaining-2019/unit-1/. Let the union know if you want to be present there as an observer. The notification should not be shorter than 24 hours ahead of the meeting as we have to notify the employer. You can stay as long as you want – one hour, or the whole day.
Fourth meeting with Employer October 22
On October 22 the U1 bargaining team and the employer met for the fourth time. One CUPE 4207 observer was present for the meeting.
The Union presented and explained the purpose of our 14 estoppels. These are practices that the Union no longer accepts (For example: We no longer accept the practice of full time graduate students who work as Instructors NOT getting the Grad Student Supplement ).
Our bargaining team took about three hours on explaining our proposals to the University’s negotiating team. The University spent about 30 minutes explaining their proposals to the Union.
The employer’s proposals include:
- Preference in hiring for FT grad students be extended to include Instructor work.
- The time to accept an offer of employment be decreased from 2 weeks to 2 days.
- The probationary period be increased from 2 terms to 2 full academic terms.
- Paper job applications no longer be accepted.
- A dismissed worker no longer receive salary during the period that the grievance is being decided.
Third meeting with Employer September 25
The U1 Bargaining Committee spent the third meeting with employer, September 25, on finalizing the Memorandum of Conditions for 2019 [MOC]. Two CUPE 4207 Observers were present for parts of the meeting.
Three bargaining dates were spent on negotiating this Memorandum. The Employer presented us with the document at the first meeting. It listed employer-desired rules of conduct at the bargaining table, chiefly aimed at the union. Some of the requests couldn’t be accepted by the union as we are committed to transparency in bargaining and it took three bargaining sessions (from August 13 to September 25) to negotiate the MOC instead of focusing on the actual language of our collective agreement.
The MOC allows for five observes at the negotiating table (up to five members of Unit 1 and/or members of the CUPE 4207 Executive). If you would like to attend as an observer for any (or all) of these dates let us know minimum 24 hours ahead of the date. You can attend for as little as one hour or for the entire bargaining session. firstname.lastname@example.org
Second meeting with Employer September 11
Just like the first, the second meeting was spent discussing the terms of Memorandum of Conditions for 2019 Bargaining, a document introduced by the employer on August 13. It calls on the Parties to act with respect to individual dignity, comply with labour relations law, be expeditious, clearly mark recorded changes to the language, etc. While these may sound to be the reasonable and even obvious practices during collective bargaining, it is also quite clear that the employer attemps to pressure the union into an agreement that would seriously hamper principles of transparent and accountable bargaining that our local is committed to practice with respect to our members. Our members have the right to know what is being negotiated on their behalf. There are two main sticking points proposed by the employer in the Memorandum that challenge our commitment to open bargaining:
1) The union maintains that five Unit 1 members or elected officials of the union (who are not Bargaining Committee members), have the opportunity to attend bargaining meetings as observers, without voice or vote. Yet our modest counter-proposal that five observes be allowed (on each side), has been met by the employer with suspicion and opposition. While the employer eventually agreed to the presence of observers, they propose reduicng the number to two only.
There are over 1,000 Unit 1 members who work in five different occupational categories. It is hardly any extravagant provision to give the opportunity to up to five member-observers to sit in the negotiating room and literally observe negotiations about the terms of their working conditions.
2) Similarly, the employer wants to regulate the form and content of the union communications to our members about the developments in bargaining sessions. Our bargaining committees are elected by our membership and that they negotiate better working conditions for the membership and are accountable for their conduct to their membership. It is also good to keep in mind that the employer’s bargaining team consist of well paid employees in managerial positions of the University whose job it is to negotiate collective agreements. Our Unit 1 bargaining team comprises contract workers who work under the conditions of precarious employment and are not paid for the time they spend in preparation for and attending the bargaining sessions. The stakes are high and the employer perceives informed membership to be a threat to ‘smooth’ bargaining process. We know that union members who are well informed make better personal decisions about their collective workplace environment.
This is what is on the table for the next session:
The Employer’s proposal:
1) Up to two observers from Unit 1 and up to two observes on the employer side, each side giving 24 hours notification.
2) No online posting of bargaining information during a bargaining session and verbatim quotes
The Union’s proposal:
1) Up to five observers from Unit 1 and elected officers of the local, and up to five observes on the employer side, each side giving 24 hours notification.
2) The Union sharing relevant information to the membership following a bargaining session.
First meeting with Employer August 13
On the first meeting with the employer’s team (Amanda Villella, HR; Daniel McCrindle, HR; Gaby Donia, HR; Dawn Zinga, Associate Dean of Social Sciences; Brian Power, Vice-Provost & Associate Vice-President, Academic), no proposals were exchanged yet. Our bargaining team read an opening statement and negotiated about a member of our Bargaining Research Committee to act as an observer (not a Bargaining Committee member) at the meeting to make up for the one BC member who could not attend that day.
Our local has a policy of open bargaining. This means that members in good standing can act as observers at the negotiating session. Our local has suggested five observers could be present on either party’s side. They have no voice or vote. The Employer opposes that. There is no law or regulation that would ban observers on negotiating committees. Our local maintains that all relevant information can be shared with members of the bargaining unit whose working conditions are being negotiated for the duration of the collective agreement. Bargaining committees are not insular bodies who act surreptitiously for the period of collective bargaining and only present membership the final negotiated deal. Our local and our bargaining team is responsible to over 1,000 members and continues to be committed to transparency in bargaining. Informed members are members with knowledge and confidence in their hands. Two way communication between the bargaining team and members is the cornerstone of labour union power.
The next meeting date, to negotiate the conditions of bargaining and to exchange proposals, is currently being arranged. All bargaining meeting dates are posted on our website (upcoming events).
In the bargaining period, a labour union can bring up a request for relevant information that would clarify issues and help in negotiations of contract language. From our requested information under disclosure, the Employer provided these answers, and later added the number (55) of CUPE 4207 members who taught 2 credits as Instructors during 2018/2019.