York Administration's inflexibility frustrates YUFA's negotiators and members

YUFA has continued to face a surprisingly unsupportive and unyielding approach from the York administration. Their failure to show support for our members’ work is of particular concern during the ongoing pandemic and at a time of government-imposed compensation restraints.

As YUFA’s bargaining team works to revise some of its proposals, YUFA remains concerned about the York administration’s failure to adequately acknowledge the importance of member-driven equity and collegial governance priorities for our members.

YUFA will be holding a General Membership Meeting on Thursday, February 3, 2022, at 11am to discuss bargaining and what members can do to help increase our bargaining team’s leverage at the table.

On Equity

The York University administration has thus far refused meaningful increases in the numbers of dedicated Black and Indigenous hires and the Affirmative Action threshold. These measures are necessary so that our members can reflect and better serve the needs of the York University community, particularly our diverse student body. YUFA is bargaining for meaningful practices that align with York’s mission and contribute both to the recruitment and retention of faculty from equity -seeking groups and fair working conditions for us all.

Additionally, they are thus far unwilling to engage proposals from YUFA’s Disability Caucus which seek improvements to the existing accommodation process by which the university fulfills its legal duty to accommodate. Our members deserve a timely and dignified process to access the workplace accommodation they need.

Members from equity-seeking groups with caregiving responsibilities continue to be disproportionately impacted. In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a member observes “it [is] shocking that the employer has made zero allowances and has no program specially addressed to parents [and caregivers] who have shouldered an impossible burden during the pandemic.”

On Governance

Our employer has rejected most of YUFA’s governance proposals, including those which provide for a more transparent, accountable, and collegial process for the selection of academic administrators and approval of York’s strategic mandate agreements with government. Our proposal to remove the extreme requirement that YUFA appointees to the Board of Governors relinquish their YUFA membership has also been rejected even though that requirement does not apply to any of the other unions on campus.

On Compensation and Benefits

York’s senior administration has not only embraced the 1% salary and compensation limit of the Ford government’s public sector “moderation” legislation enshrined in Bill 124 but is also interpreting it in a way that is far more restrictive than we have seen at other bargaining tables.

While nurses and teachers have received 1% increases to their annual salary increments, the York administration is applying a highly controversial interpretation insisting that such an increase represents a structural change to our compensation and on that basis is refusing to consider even 1% increases to our annual PTR increment (after freezes for all but one of the last 12 years).

A YUFA member shared, “I am a visible minority faculty member, the first person in my family to attend University, and I am trying to support my family on a single income with a dependent. With the average rent in Toronto topping $2700 a month or more for a two bedroom apartment, it is ridiculous to withhold compensation in line with the rest of our sector. This is an equity issue."

To make matters even worse, our employer continues to refer to professional research and teaching expenses in our collective agreement as potential perquisites and provisions that benefit our members which could therefore also not be eligible for increases above 1% under Bill 124. YUFA has pointed to settlements at other universities where the parties have acknowledged that these items are not compensation or benefits but rather work expenses.

We expect further responses on key monetary issues, including YUFA’s proposal for an improved retirement phase-in program following similar initiatives at Queen’s Ryerson and University of Toronto.

In the meantime, YUFA calls on its members to:

1. Continue sharing your stories on how YUFA's bargaining priorities will help improve our working conditions, which will in turn improve our students' learning conditions.
2. Attend and encourage your colleagues to attend the February 3rd GMM at 11am (details to follow shortly).
3. Support colleagues at UOIT Faculty Association avert a strike.
4. Arrange a departmental consultation with a member of the YUFA bargaining team by contacting Stewards' Council Representatives Susan Ingram and Nancy Sangiuliano, or the bargaining team directly.