Negotiations between the St. Michael’s College administration and CUPE Local 3902 have stalled in their 37th week, with both sides unable to reach a consensus over what union spokeswoman Leslie Jermyn calls “important human rights issues for these academic workers.”
An open letter from Unit 4 of CUPE 3902 to the Collegium of St. Michael’s College publicly identifies several of the stumbling blocks it claims are impeding negotiations, including allegations that the college has refused to cooperate over protections for witnesses and complainants in sexual harassment and bullying grievances, the right to launch complaints relating to “improper and unfair hiring decisions,” and an agreement “to exercise [management] rights in a manner which is fair, reasonable, equitable and consistent with the provisions of this Agreement.”
Similar provisions are included in all the other agreements CUPE 3902 has negotiated at the University of Toronto. As a federated college, St. Michael’s is technically an independent employer and negotiates its own contracts independent of Simcoe Hall.
The union’s bargaining committee says that until the issues outlined in the letter are addressed, it will be impossible to advance to a discussion of wages and benefits with the administration.
College bursar and CFO Georgina Kossivas declined to comment on the specifics of the ongoing negotiations, citing a “confidentiality understanding” between the St. Michael’s and the union’s representatives — an understanding she claims Unit 4 has disregarded. Kossivas called the decision to publicize the bargaining process “legally imprudent,” and contends that the details divulged in the letter are “selective, taken out of context, and fail to reflect the complete bargaining discussions on these issues.”
Kossivas said the college had been negotiating in good faith, and will continue to do so when the bargaining process resumes later this week. Meanwhile Local 3902 plans to lobby faculty, students, and donors in the coming weeks, in an effort to increase pressure on the college to comply with its demands.
Update: When asked to comment on their decision to go public, representatives of Unit 4 claimed that no understanding concerning confidentiality was reached, saying, “as a democratic union, we would never agree to withholding information about bargaining from the members we represent.”