Members of CUPE 3902 Unit 1 ratified the February 24 agreement with the university Wednesday, preventing a strike of almost 4,200 union members.
Sixty-seven per cent (1197 members) were in favour of the agreement, while 600 voted against. In comparison, CUPE’s last ratification vote in 2009 garnered a 97 per cent voter support.
Despite the ratification, some members’ frustration over the negotiations’ non-transparency continues.
“I’m frustrated because CUPE didn’t contact me at all until after all of the negotiating had been done and they had set a strike date, so I felt really excluded from the entire process,” said member Jon Kearnan Corrigall. “The first contact I got was them telling me that I owed them 10 hours on the picket line.”
Some said that accepting the deal would jeopardize future negotiations.
“I think the agreement is a quick fix that can have really negative long-term consequences,” David Seitz said.
Alivia Dey added that she understood that the economic recession “must be hard on the university” but if the issues aren’t discussed now, will “never become part of the bargaining process in the future.”
The university, on the other hand, was pleased with ratification but acknowledges that it was no walk in the park.
“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,” stated VP of human resources Angela Hildyard. “We believe the outcome, however, is good for the university and its students, and we are very pleased that members of CUPE 3902 ratified the agreement.”
While the majority of the vote took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, voting began right after a CUPE meeting that took place in Convocation Hall on February 24. The opening of polls in all three campuses was stalled due to a mandatory seven-day notice requirement.
Some members expressed their frustration at the confusion that this caused since they were unsure if they would be required to vote again.
Stephen Trochimchuk felt that voting right after the meeting was not a good idea due to high emotions.
“Emotions are high; people were really frustrated with how long it was taking. It seemed more appropriate to have some time to leave the meeting, go home, and think about the agreement then vote,” he said.
Under the new settlement, the university will establish a working group to look into ballooning tutorial sizes. In place of the Doctoral Completion Grant, it will also allot $250,000 for unfunded fifth- and sixth-year grad students for the next two years. Lastly, U of T will give graduate students two one-time payments totalling $150,000 to compensate for increased workload.
Further details of the deal can be viewed on the union’s website. The deal will last nearly three years and will expire on April 30, 2014.
CUPE officials were reached for comment but had not provided The Varsity with a statement as of press time.