Voting stations open today! Vote at Keele or Glendon campus.

An image of a hand dropping a ballot into the ballot box.

An image of a hand dropping a ballot into the ballot box.

CUPE 3903 members from all 4 Units can vote for the Grievance Officer, who sits on the Executive and the Bargaining Team. I’ll be voting for Elizabeth Brulé, an experienced activist in the local, as the best choice for the union as a whole.

Members of Unit 2 are electing 2 members to our Unit 2 Bargaining Team. I’m hoping that you will support me, Murray Cooke. I’ll also be voting for Waseem Malik. During the last round of bargaining, Waseem frequently attended bargaining sessions. He knows the Collective Agreement and how the process works.

Members of Unit 1 are electing 3 members to their Unit 1 Bargaining Team and have 5 good candidates to choose from.

Voting stations will be open: February 9-10 (Thur-Fri) and 13-15 (Mon-Wed).

9am-5pm at Keele campus (in Vari Link) and
11am-3pm at Glendon (outside the cafeteria – across from York Hall, Room 170).


Departmental Outreach – Connecting with Unit 2 Members

A departmental CUPE 3903 bulletin board.

A departmental CUPE 3903 bulletin board.

Once we elect a bargaining team (no matter who is elected) we need to get prepared for bargaining.Having five members running for two spots on the Unit 2 bargaining team is a good sign. Hopefully, we all commit to staying involved after the election, win or lose. And we will need other Unit 2 members to be get actively involved.

We need to get working to prepare our bargaining survey. Then we need to speak to as many Unit 2 members as possible to hear their concerns, get their input and get them to complete the bargaining survey. We need to start having conversations about bargaining and our collective agreement.

We need to get beyond the few people that show up to meetings. During this campaign, I’ve been canvassing and speaking to members all over Keele campus (perhaps you’ve seen my poster). I’ve also been emailing lots of members. At the very least, they will know that our collective agreement is expiring and we are heading into bargaining. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Glendon yet (although I’ve been lucky to have some postering support at Glendon). We do need to make sure we have an active outreach campaign at Glendon. I’ve canvassed (postering, leafletting and speaking to members) the following departments/hiring units at Keele campus:

Cinema & Media Arts
Communication Studies
Computer Science
Earth & Atmospheric Studies
Environmental Studies
Equity Studies
Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies
Health Studies
Languages, Literature & Linguistics
Natural Science
Physics & Astronomy
Political Science
Public Policy & Administration Studies
Science & Technology Studies
Social Science
Social Work
Visual Art and Art History
Writing Department

If your department is not on this list, please send me an email at:


Bargaining Issues: Comments from Unit 2 Members

I noted on a previous post that: 1) bargaining proposals must be driven by the membership, 2) this requires extensive outreach to members through a variety of mechanisms including one-on-one conversations, and 3) the entire process should be open and transparent with frequent updates.

So, in that spirit, here’s an update from conversations about bargaining that I’ve had with Unit 2 members over the last few days, as I’ve canvassed various departments. With the exception of the discussion of the cap, I am simply presenting this as a report-back, without comment, to get people thinking and discussing bargaining issues. One obvious issue that’s missing here is a discussion of improving the equity language in our collective agreement.

The Cap: I was asked by one member if I supported a reduction of the cap on the number of appointments a member can accept in one year (Article 12.04.1 v). I do not support putting this forth as a bargaining proposal. Proposing to reduce the cap would a divisive move that would harm the livelihood of some of our Unit 2 members. Taking work away from some members is not a strategy for strengthening our local or our Collective Agreement.

Academic Dishonesty Cases: One member raised concerns about the current procedures for dealing with academic dishonesty cases and the fact that students accused of academic dishonesty and/or penalized for academic dishonesty are then allowed to complete course evaluations that can impact our members’ future employment prospects.

Office Space & Facilities: Article 15.01 outlines our rights to adequate office space and facilities. Members teaching evening courses often don’t have access to printing or office support. And many members lack adequate office space and functioning computers.

Clarifying the Collective Agreement Language: It was pointed out by one member that the legalistic, murky, hard-to-decipher language of our Collective Agreement is to the advantage of the employer and to the disadvantage of our members who may not be able to easily understand their rights. Clarifying the language and making it easier to read, where possible, would help empower members.

Conversions: The Conversions program (termed the “Affirmative Action Pool” in Article 23) involves the appointment of Unit 2 members who meet the qualifications in terms of experience and teaching intensity to tenure stream positions. The importance of this program is demonstrated by the fact that it has already been brought up repeatedly by members. Currently, our collective agreement calls for 8 conversion appointments per year, with a minimum of 6 per year being to the professorial stream (rather than the teaching stream). Not surprisingly, members want the number of conversions per year to increase. It was also pointed out that this program may be seen as a priority for high seniority members, but it deserves the full support of all members. We have members that have been teaching at York for years that rightfully deserve a tenure stream position. As well, when these members move from Unit 2 to a tenure track position, their teaching load decreases and courses are freed up for other Unit 2 members. Unlike a suggestion of reducing the cap (which is a zero-sum game, taking work away from some members), conversions are a win-win situation. We need to have these conversations and be conscious of how we frame our discussions and proposals to build broad support among members.

LSTAs: Long-Service Teaching Assignments are a job security provision outlined in Article 24 of our Collective Agreement. Members who meet the experience and teaching intensity qualifications may be awarded an LSTA which guarantees a certain level of work (a minimum of 3 full courses per year) and compensation for a 3 year period. Currently, our collective agreement call for a minimum of 7 LSTAs per year. Not surprisingly, members want the number of LSTAs per year to increase. One member also raised the issue of lowering the number of years required to qualify for an LSTA. That is the kind of idea involving trade-offs that would require further discussion and analysis.

Postings: It’s clear that the employer plays all kinds of games with postings, qualifications and appointments. There is widespread frustration with the posting and appointment process. It remains an open question whether we can tinker with the current Collective Agreement language in Articles 11 and 12 or whether we need to propose whole new language that is both clearer and meets our member’s needs.

CSS: The Continuing Sessional Standing program (Article 12.01) provides members who qualify with an earlier posting process and some of those members with compensation if their workload decreases by a certain margin. As a new program established in our current Collective Agreement, there are mixed feeling about its success and a variety of concerns and frustrations. There are frustrations with departments not posting courses through the CSS program. Some members question the fact that the CSS posting deadline and the CSS appointment deadline are both January 22, rather than having the postings available before appointments are made. It was also pointed out that it provides no real job security.

If you have comments or ideas about our bargaining proposals, you can email me at:



An Open and Accountable Bargaining Team

Developing Bargaining Proposals: Listening to the Membership

I have my own thoughts about our bargaining proposals. I mentioned some of them on my candidate statement, but our Unit 2 bargaining proposals will not be determined by the Bargaining Team. No one on the Bargaining Team should presuppose that they know what the membership wants or sees as priorities.

As a union we need to engage in a real outreach, consultation and discussion process to develop our bargaining proposals. We need to get this started as soon as possible. We need to carefully develop our bargaining survey and then make sure we get the widest response level possible. The survey will be online, but we need to canvass members in their departments and speak to as many members from all departments and faculties as possible. We need as many members as possible involved in the process, not just a handful of the usual activists.

We need to have collective discussions in Unit 2 town halls and online (via the Unit 2 list and a bargaining website or blog) to hear and learn from one another and to develop bargaining proposals that reflect the diverse interests of all Unit 2 members. We will only maintain broad support from Unit 2 members as long as the broad membership of Unit 2 sees their specific interests reflected in our bargaining proposals and priorities. We need members to understand, appreciate and support the various diverse interests in our unit and the resulting bargaining proposals. We are collectively stronger when we explicitly address our diversity.

Open Bargaining: Transparency and Membership Involvement

We need to build on and improve our CUPE 3903 practice of open bargaining. All Bargaining Team meetings and meetings with the employer are open to all CUPE 3903 members. This isn’t about turning the process into a zoo, this is to ensure that the process is transparent, the Bargaining Team remains accountable to the membership and the employer sees that the membership is involved. To facilitate this, we need to ensure that meetings are advertised widely and that the membership knows which issues will be discussed on a given day.

Obviously, not every member can or will attend bargaining sessions. We need to do a better job of providing bargaining updates to the membership. I’m no tech expert, but as you can see, I can manage to create, manage and update a website. I’d be happy to help ensure that we have a dedicated bargaining website with regular updates. The bargaining team needs to take a proactive role in providing information and updates to members rather than relying on the Communications Officer.

Make no mistake, the Bargaining Team will play a leadership role and will have room to negotiate, but it must remain an open, transparent and membership-driven process. This will be a crucial part of us getting a better collective agreement for all Unit 2 members.

Bargaining Mobilization at CUPE 4207 – Brock University

Like many Contract Faculty, I don’t just teach at York University. For many of us, this is necessary to piece together an income. I’ve taught at Carleton University, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and at Brock University.

During the Fall 2016 term, I taught a Labour Studies course at Brock. I was also hired as a part-time Membership Mobilizer by CUPE 4207 which represents Teaching Assistants, Contract Faculty, ESL Coordinators and ESL Instructors at Brock.

CUPE 4207, Unit 1, which includes TAs and Contract Faculty (or Instructors) is currently bargaining for a new collective agreement. With little progress at the table, on January 18 and 19, CUPE 4207 Unit 1 held a strike vote and received a strike mandate from the membership. We will see what happens next in bargaining, but in the meantime, CUPE 4207 is preparing to go on strike!

If CUPE 3903 members would like to offer some solidarity to their colleagues in CUPE 4207, I’d suggest that two simple and modest ways would be to like their Facebook page and follow their Twitter account. For CUPE 4207 bargaining news, check out their bargaining website.

Back on November 10, 2016, CUPE 4207 held a Rally for Fairness for Academic Workers. We managed to receive some decent coverage from the student-run BrockTV:

The Campaign Begins…

I’m running for a spot on the CUPE 3903 Unit 2 Bargaining Team. If Unit 2 members choose to elect me to that position, I’d be very happy (and honoured) to take on that work and responsibility.

However, there are a bunch of good candidates running for the two spots on the Unit 2 Bargaining Team.

As well, there are two candidates (both from Unit 2) running for the position of Grievance Officer. The Grievance Officer will also serve on the Bargaining Team.

You can find the list of candidates on the CUPE 3903 website.

Good luck to all the candidates!