By Sandy Bell
Already its May!!! It’s hard to imagine where the time has gone, but here we are with the spring flowers starting to poke through, the trees starting to bud and the days becoming longer and warmer.
It’s been a busy five months while Dawn, Mike and I settle into our new roles. I would like to welcome Dawn Burns, 2nd Vice-President to the YUSA office.
I would also like to acknowledge Giulio Malfatti, who left the YUSA office after 13 years as a full-time officer. Giulio worked tirelessly for the membership and now has returned to his bargaining unit position in UIT. I would like to thank Giulio for his guidance and mentorship over the last several years and wish him all the best.
Janet Brewer, who has also been involved with YUSA for many, many years has decided to step away from her position as Chair of the Job Evaluation Committee. Her keen intellect and extensive historical knowledge of our job evaluation system will be truly missed. We wish Janet the best and much success in her future endeavours.
So far the year has been busy with arbitrations and mediations as we implemented a revised mediation/arbitration process. YUSA filed 106 grievances in 2015; we have been working hard to get through the backlog that was created due to the length of time it took to bargain our Unit 1 contract and at the same time, keep on track with the grievances filed in 2016. So far we have filed 29 grievances. Most of them are job-posting grievances; four job closures, and 2 harassment grievances. We have also filed a policy grievance concerning the employer posting a series of temporary contracts rather than continuing positions.
In January we were successful in our “surviving settlements” arbitration. We received a positive outcome with respect to “shadow files” kept in the department by the managers. Our collective agreement allows for only one official employee file that is kept in Human Resources. We now have the ability to determine what type of information the unit manager is allowed to keep in the “working files” in the unit. Another part of the award stated that the Employer and the Union are to meet to determine who could be used as references in a job posting competition. We also received a definitive award that all overtime is voluntary despite what is written in the job posting or the job summary. We will be meeting with the Employer for further discussions on all these issues.
As you know during bargaining we discovered an intern performing YUSA work. We had a 2013 settlement that bound the Employer to identify all interns currently employed at York and to notify YUSA if they intended on hiring interns in the future. While the settlement itself did not survive it had been breached therefore it was referred back to the arbitrator. That case will be coming up in the near future.
Our Executive Board met at the beginning of February for our annual planning session. There was a lot of enthusiasm about how we can move forward as a Union with plans to further engage our members. We are also looking to revamp the role of our stewards with some new and relevant education modules with a view that they will be better equipped to mobilize and engage our members “on the shop floor”. I’d like to give a big shout out to our brothers and sisters at Public and Private Workers of Canada and Nova Scotia Union of Private and Public Employees for their help in getting this off the ground.
As part of our 40th anniversary celebration, we created four $500 YUSA bursaries for dependents of our members who are registered full time in a university degree program. We hope to make future draws on our anniversary date, December 10.
We have finally been able to secure some dates from the Employer and we will commence bargaining the Unit 2 collective agreement in October.
Now is the time that we should reflect on what solidarity means to us. Not only as workers, but also as human beings. Solidarity is founded on mutual respect and appreciation of each other and of those who are our brothers and sisters not only in our worker family, but also in our human family.
Let’s be kind to each other. For if we are not, who will be?
President, York University Staff Association