FAQ on the motion for a strike mandate vote

Dear members,

This is to notify you that the Executive Committee has given notice of a motion to be discussed at the upcoming General Membership Meeting (GMM) on September 17. Details of the motion, including our reasons for bringing it and what we hope it will achieve, are listed in the following FAQ.

As a reminder, the details of the GMM are as follows:

General Membership Meeting on bargaining
Monday, September 17
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Founders Assembly Hall
152 Founders College

If you have any questions, please email yufa@yorku.ca.

Respectfully yours,
The Executive Committee

1) The YUFA Executive Committee has given notice of a motion to be discussed at the upcoming General Membership Meeting (GMM) on September 17. What does the motion say?

This is the exact wording of the proposed motion:

In order to provide a firmer basis for progress in the current protracted round of negotiations, the YUFA membership calls upon the YUFA Executive to conduct a vote authorizing possible job action as per Article 9.3 of the YUFA Constitution if a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached.

2) Why has the Executive Committee proposed this motion?

After 18 bargaining sessions (almost 60 hours of talks), the Employer remains unwilling to consider the vast majority of YUFA’s proposals, and has so far only offered a minimal across-the-board salary increase—two percentage points below the rate of inflation in Toronto—while also rejecting any increases to Progress-Through-the-Ranks (PTR).

In the judgment of the Executive Committee and the Stewards’ Council, the Employer will not be inclined to make further moves at the table until the YUFA membership reiterates its support for its negotiators.

Read the latest bargaining update here.

Conducting a strike mandate vote is a powerful way for the members to show their support for the Bargaining Team and YUFA’s bargaining proposals. If the Employer is under the impression that YUFA’s proposals don’t really matter to the members, it has no reason to take the proposals seriously.

3) Isn’t the YUFA Executive Committee already empowered to conduct a strike mandate vote, without getting approval at a GMM?

Yes. According to Article 9.3 of the YUFA Constitution, the Executive Committee may conduct an electronic ballot of the members in order to authorize the imposition of any strike action or other sanction against the Employer.

The Executive Committee may conduct this vote at any time during the bargaining process, and does not require approval from a GMM.

4) So why is the Executive Committee bringing this motion to the GMM?

The Executive Committee is bringing this motion to the GMM because it feels confident that the members will support it and give the Bargaining Team the leverage they need at the table to get a fair deal.

The decision to conduct a strike mandate vote sends a much more powerful message if it is endorsed at a GMM than simply passed by the Executive Committee. Getting the members’ support at the upcoming GMM is vital to strengthening the hand of our Bargaining Team as they negotiate for the proposals that members have approved in previous meetings.

5) If this motion passes at the GMM, will there be a strike mandate vote?

Not necessarily. The motion is simply a show of support for the decision to conduct a strike mandate vote. Whether a vote actually happens depends on the pace of bargaining. If the Employer picks up the pace and becomes responsive to YUFA’s proposals, there may be no need to hold a strike mandate vote. That is our hope.

However, YUFA must prepare for the possibility that the Employer will continue to reject YUFA’s proposals. Moving ahead with a strike mandate vote would be yet another way to put pressure on the Employer to bargain seriously.

The best way to minimize the need for a strike mandate vote is for members to attend the GMM in large numbers, and to endorse the motion by a wide margin. We want to send a signal to the Employer that members support YUFA’s proposals.

6) If it becomes necessary to hold a strike mandate vote, what happens next?

The Executive Committee will only proceed to a strike mandate vote if the bargaining process continues to stall. We are confident that our recent decision to apply for a conciliator will help the parties reach a negotiated settlement.

However, if the conciliator is unable to help the parties reach a negotiated settlement (which remains to be seen), the Executive Committee will proceed to conduct an electronic ballot of the membership to authorize job action. Notification of the vote, including the exact question on the ballot and the choices members may make, will be given seven days in advance. The vote will likely take place over five days. Accommodations for voting would be available, as per the relevant by-law.

7) If a majority of members vote yes in a strike mandate vote, does that mean that YUFA is on strike?

No. A positive strike mandate merely authorizes the Executive Committee to call a strike. Other steps are required before YUFA would be in a legal strike position (see here). But getting a positive strike mandate would give YUFA a lot of leverage to pressure the Employer to reach a negotiated settlement, hopefully avoiding a strike.

In the event that YUFA proceeds to a strike mandate vote, and a majority of members end up voting yes, the Executive Committee is committed to holding a Special General Membership Meeting to consult the members on whether a strike is actually necessary.

In other words, even if members vote yes in a strike mandate vote, they will have one more opportunity to decide whether YUFA should go on strike. The Executive Committee will follow whatever decision regarding possible strike action that members make at this meeting.

8) Why doesn’t YUFA just send everything to arbitration, and avoid a strike mandate vote entirely?

Conducting a strike mandate vote is a normal part of the bargaining process. It is one of the most effective tools, in addition to the strike tactic itself, that YUFA has at its disposal to pressure the Employer to take our proposals seriously.

Sending everything to arbitration gives the Employer an incentive to disengage in the process, and to bypass bargaining altogether. Collective bargaining is a Charter right, and YUFA is committed to getting a fair deal through the bargaining process.

Conducting a strike mandate vote is also a common practice of other faculty associations across Canada. In the last year alone, five other faculty associations in Ontario have successfully conducted strike mandate votes: Carleton, Guelph, Laurentian, St. Michael’s, and Sudbury.

Even when members vote for a positive strike mandate, “[t]he vast majority (over 95%) of negotiations for a new or for a renewal collective agreement are resolved without a strike by employees or a lock-out by the employer,” according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour website.

9) Does the Executive Committee want a strike?

No. The Executive Committee believes the best way to get a fair deal is through a negotiated settlement. We are committed to strengthening the bargaining process, and to pursuing tactics that help us avoid any strike action whatsoever.

We are hopeful that, if our members support this motion at the GMM on September 17, we won’t actually need to go through with a strike mandate vote. That is why we need to mobilize as many members as possible to show our support for the Bargaining Team and YUFA’s bargaining proposals.

10) Where can I get more information about the bargaining process?

For more information about the bargaining process, please see this FAQ on the Ontario Ministry of Labour website.

To see all YUFA’s bargaining updates, please click here.