Some concerned members have emailed us asking for clarification about the timeline of our application for a 'no-board' report.
We will outline factually what happened in order to respond to misinformation disseminated by the employer and some colleagues on the blog Profs4Change.
The process unfolded as follows. In February, YUFA began meeting with a private mediator, in the hope of moving negotiations into a more productive phase. After receiving a positive strike mandate vote from members on February 28, the parties also met with a conciliator. During that meeting, the conciliator observed that the parties were already involved in an intensive process of mediation and that conciliation would unnecessarily overlap with that process.
YUFA asked the Ministry-appointed conciliator to issue a 'no-board' report on March 1, and we expect it will be issued March 7.
A no-board report officially indicates that the process of conciliation is unlikely to be helpful in settling the differences between the parties. The bargaining team thought that this step would offer YUFA a chance to be taken more seriously and finally create the leverage we need for ongoing mediation to bear fruit.
As we wrote in Bargaining Bulletin #1, YUFA is disappointed that the employer has publicly characterized YUFA's decision to ask for a no-board as "unexpected” when they had already conveyed that very expectation to the mediator. They know that no progress is being made in negotiations. They know as well as we do that once the union has taken this step it is in a much better position to achieve a positive settlement in mediation.
Asking for a no-board report is routine at this stage of negotiations. A similar strategy has been employed recently at other universities in Ontario, in some cases averting a strike. In the recent dispute at the Ontario University of Technology, the union was able to get a no-board report issued to create leverage in mediation. The UOITFA did strike but reached a settlement in under two weeks.
York is not alone in meeting with an impasse in stalled contract negotiations in a university setting. At the same time, we share our colleagues’ concerns about our university’s academic reputation. Seeking to negotiate better workload and working conditions and a greater role in governance, and seeking to have a larger portion of the university’s budget dedicated to teaching and research, are appropriate objectives in this regard.