YUFA supports new contract: What we won, what we learned, and what we need to do

Over 1200 YUFA members have voted Yes in an overwhelming majority to ratify the Bargaining Team’s tentative agreement with the Employer.

YUFA has listened carefully to members and has tried to act in their best interests through an arduous year of contract negotiations. The Employer’s tactics were questionable and demoralizing. Notwithstanding their efforts to wear down our Bargaining Team, our Team remained firm in its resolve to negotiate a fair contract. We owe them a huge debt of thanks for their personal and professional fortitude in this long, difficult process.

YUFA members can learn from this experience. Although York’s senior administration bolstered their hard -line bargaining tactics with a sizable PR team and expensive legal counsel, YUFA’s Bargaining, Communications and Mobilization Committees built so much member support that we succeeded in pressuring the Employer to come to an agreement at the 11th hour.

The biggest win for YUFA is the strong and united participation of the members during these last weeks of mediation. In a series of special Membership Meetings, our members showed up and demonstrated strong support for the Bargaining Team and its proposals. Although worn out by the pandemic, members gave the Executive the strong strike mandate vote needed for a fair agreement. When the Employer continued to stall, members stepped forward in great numbers to organize and prepare for a potential strike.

Along with the win of a united YUFA, the BT secured new Indigenous and Black Faculty hires, gained a 3% PTR in the third year of the agreement, increased our benefits, research funding, and retirement pensions, and resisted incursions into mode of course delivery. 

Crucially, they retained the Dispute Resolution Committee, a strong win for defending equity and fairness in the arms-length adjudication of complaints by faculty.

Still, we have some distance to go to achieve our members’ objectives, particularly concerning workload and governance. Members have communicated their disappointment with the Employer’s refusal to align workload (2.0 & 3.0) with that held by all research-intensive universities in the sector. Our junior faculty deserve PTR increases across all three years of their contracts. Our newest colleagues have the most to lose from the Employer’s refusal to support those who need it most.

Although we celebrate this win for YUFA, we invite members to continue the quest for an equitable workplace and for compensation that responds to inflation and the high price of living in Toronto. We also need you to remain vigilant in all areas of faculty rights, from electronic surveillance to autonomy over our teaching, to workplace accommodations, to governance.

Some YUFA members are also Senators, and we need to stop the Employer’s continued erosion of Senate, just as YUFA has thwarted their efforts to divide and break the union. Labour, academic matters, and university governance clearly overlap, now more than ever, and members must continue to wear more than one hat when keeping this Administration accountable in its financial, academic, and collegial transactions, in the quest to ensure strict adherence to the procedures of collegial governance and the York Act.

Finally, then, we encourage all colleagues to continue to participate in YUFA and other structures of governance overseeing all aspects of our work. So many colleagues have remarked that they no longer recognize this university. So many members have expressed renewed energy with this initial movement to reclaim York University for its faculty and students.

YUFA members have showed how strong and resolute members of a union can be when organized, prepared, and informed. Let us bring together all our strengths and expertise and carry them over to the next round of bargaining so that we can achieve better workload, compensation, governance, and working conditions. Your engagement with YUFA and with this university is key to its sustainability.

Access the full Memorandum of Settlement here.