With the agreement between U of T and CUPE3902 set to expire by December 2017, both parties are expected to return to the table this September to discuss further agreements.
“It’s usually a little earlier than when we would normally start to meet,” said Althea Blackburn-Evans, U of T’s director of media relations, in an interview with The Medium.
She added that meeting early would be a “good signal.”
“All the parties agreed: Let’s get together a little earlier and start to have these discussions,” she continued.
“The goal is to […] get to a place where all parties are satisfied […], and always have productive and constructive rounds of bargaining to reach collective agreements without labour disruption. We always want to work collaboratively with all of our union partners to get to that place.”
As previously reported by The Medium, in December 2015, CUPE3902 had filed a complaint against the university, citing “unfair labour practice” regarding concerns of bursary distribution.
“Yes, we reached a settlement last year. We went into an arbitration process that ended in July of 2015, then there was an unfair labour practice complaint that tied it up again, but that was resolved in January 2016,” said the chair of CUPE3902, Ryan Culpepper, to The Medium in an interview on January 12.
U of T’s vice-president, human resources and equity, Angela Hildyard, had said in a U of T News article in May 2016, “Mediated resolution reached with CUPE,” that the agreement included an increase of $1 million in the Graduate Student Bursary Fund, and a contribution worth $1.045 million to the fund, as of last September. According to Hildyard, this applied to approximately 6,500 teaching assistants.
“We still alleged that they did [the “unfair labour practice],” Culpepper said.
“The charge was that they bargained and provided false information to the union, and we still maintain they did that, but we are no longer in dispute process. They paid us to make the dispute go away.”
When asked if another strike could happen after the agreement ends this year, Culpepper explained that every round of bargaining, anywhere in Ontario, carries a possibility of strike occurring. “You always hope [the round of bargaining] goes well, but there’s always a possibility it won’t,” he said.
Blackburn-Evans stated that she “can’t speculate” the possibility of another strike occurrence.
Discussions between the two parties are expected to take place next semester.