The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) and University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) are renegotiating the agreement that binds the two unions’ governance and fee remittance structure.

The renegotiation was announced today in a joint statement. It reveals that the two unions agreed on January 25 to engage in a renegotiation process over the Associate Membership Agreement (AMA) with the assistance of a third-party facilitator.

The AMA was first signed in 2008. Full-time undergraduates at UTM are members of both the UTMSU and the UTSU; full-time undergraduates at UTSG are members of just the UTSU.

The agreement intertwines the governance of the two unions: a UTSU executive sits as a voting member on the UTMSU’s Board of Directors and liaison between the two groups, while a UTMSU Designate sits on the UTSU’s executive committee. In addition, a minimum of two and a maximum of eight directors on the UTSU’s Board of Directors are appointed by the UTMSU’s Board of Directors.

The agreement also outlines the role that the UTSU should have on the UTM campus. Chiefly, it describes that the relationship between the two unions should be one of cooperation and not competition, and that their respective advocacy efforts and services should not overlap.

Under the agreement, the UTSU also diverts 85 per cent of the membership fees that UTM students pay to the UTSU over to the UTMSU, as well as 75 percent of the UTSU Orientation Levy, 100 per cent of the UTSU Daycare Levy, and 100 per cent of the World University Service of Canada Levy that UTM students pay.

UTSU President Mathias Memmel said that “both parties recognize that the UTSU-UTMSU relationship has changed since 2008, when the agreement was signed. For example, the agreement forbids the UTMSU from doing advocacy work on university-wide issues, which doesn’t make sense anymore.” Memmel also said that UTM had grown to a size that no longer made it a subsidiary of UTSG, “And the agreement should reflect that.”

UTMSU President Salma Fakhry said that “this renegotiation process that we have both agreed to take is part of a larger conversation of meeting the needs of a campus membership that is over 14,000 strong.”

“We see the importance of the UTM campus having a voice and stake in a union with an almost 120 year history of student activism,” said Fakhry. “We believe in a strong, united and principled student’s union that seeks to fight for the marginalized and ensuring our fight for accessible post-secondary education is always maintained.”

The unions have given themselves 60 days to come to an agreement, and negotiations have already started. If an agreement can’t be reached, then the process for terminating the current agreement will be triggered.

As stipulated by the AMA, the agreement can be terminated by a ¾ majority from both unions’ board of directors followed by a ¾ majority at a general meeting, or alternatively by a simple majority at the board levels and a simple majority from a referendum of both memberships.

Memmel said that the UTSU are “cautiously optimistic that the current agreement can be amended to the satisfaction of both parties.”

“As a membership that is under 1/4 of the UTSU, our interests are to strengthen the contract,” said Fakhry. “We are hopeful to engage our members in this time to discuss what we see in building a cohesive bond with our St. George counterparts over the course of the next 60 days.”