Agreement with CUPE 3902 Unit 1

PDAD&C #45, 2011-12

Professional and Managerial Staff 
 From:     Angela Hildyard
Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity
Cheryl Misak
Vice-President and Provost
 Date:  March 7, 2012


 Agreement with CUPE 3902 Unit 1

The past few weeks have been difficult and tense for our entire community - faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students. We are extremely pleased that we can now continue the term without the threat of a strike by CUPE 3902 Unit 1.

The ratified agreement ( addresses all of the issues raised by the Union during negotiations. This summary will focus on the key issues.

Working Group on Undergraduate Tutorials

The University is committed to the educational experiences of our undergraduate students, including their experience in "tutorials". The term "tutorial" covers a vast range of instructional activities, including intensive small group discussion of complex issues, large group demonstrations, online discussion groups, and exam preparation classes. To date we have not attempted to categorize the range of activities subsumed under the heading of "tutorial", nor have we systematically thought about best practices for such activities.

The newly established Working Group will make recommendations to the Provost on best practices, including more finely individuating and more accurately labelling the range of activities currently conducted under the rubric "tutorial" and the relationship between pedagogical goals, size, and mode of instructional delivery. We think that the recommendations from the Working Group will lead to positive changes for our undergraduates as well as our Teaching Assistants.

Financial Assistance

There are a number of improvements in the renewal collective agreement with respect to financial support for graduate students who are members of CUPE 3902.

(a) We have agreed to increase the Union's Financial Assistance Fund by $100,000 in year 1 and an additional $125,000 in each of the next two years. This will raise the fund to $902,000 annually. In addition to these base funds, we will provide $150,000 in years 2 and 3 on a one-time-only basis. These funds are distributed by the Union to assist with child care expenses, increases in education-related expenses, and to meet other needs.
(b) We have agreed to provide a total of $500,000 one-time-only funding in support of senior students (those beyond the funded cohort). We have noted to the Union that the need for these specifically targeted funds will decrease as the Boundless Campaign for student support moves forward. That is, we expect the new funding put in place earlier this year by the Provost's Office ($6M) and the existing Doctoral Completion monies ($4M) to be matched through philanthropy, adding $16M of new money into PhD fellowship funding, including funding for international students and funding in support of senior students beyond the funded cohort. It is also important to note that, no doctoral completion monies were "eliminated" and that academic divisions are committed to raising significant funds to enhance them.

Guaranteed Appointments

Many Teaching Assistants who have received the current maximum number of guaranteed appointments already receive 5th and 6th year appointments, if they have yet to finish their PhD. The new agreement provides a guarantee that as of May 2012, a fifth and sixth half-appointment (that is, half of the first appointment) will be guaranteed if needed. We have also committed to increase the fifth year guarantee to a full appointment as of the last day of the contract ( April 30, 2014).

We also agreed to reduce the number of hours of TA work that can be counted towards the funding package from 210 to 205.

Financial Support for Graduate Students

As we have noted in previous communications, CUPE 3902 does not represent all graduate students and therefore the University is not prepared to bargain matters pertaining to overall financial support - in particular the total amount of non-TA work that a graduate student within the funded cohort might be required to work for his or her funding package. We did, however, agree to establish a Standing Committee, which would include CUPE representatives, to discuss matters relating to graduate student funding.

Other Issues

There are, of course, many other changes to the agreement - including wage increases of 1.5%, 1.75% and 2.0%; improved parental and sick leave; and an increase to the CUPE administered Health Care Spending Account Fund of $230,000.

Labour Relations will forward detailed information on the various administrative changes, along with timelines for implementation of the various provisions.

These negotiations were not easy and it would be fair to say that there were strongly held views from both sides of the bargaining table. We believe the outcome, however, is good for the University and its students.