General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

PA 133

1. Agenda

2. Board reports

3. Other reports

4. Previous Minutes

    November 2019

    October 2019

Agenda

Dinner (5:30-6pm)

 

Land Acknowledgement

 

Equality Statement 

 

Executive Roll Call:

  • President

  • VP Internal

  • VP External

  • VP Unit 1

  • VP Unit 2

  • Chief Steward Unit 1

  • Chief Steward Unit 2

  • Secretary Treasurer

  • Recording Secretary

 

Approval of Agenda

 

Approval of Previous Minutes 

 

Executive Board Reports

 

Bargaining Team Updates:

  • Unit 1 (Zoey)

  • Unit 2 (Meg)

 

Committee Updates:

  • Mobilization

  • Strike 

 

Old Business

  • Update from President Re: Trustee’s Report and finances 

  • Electing Financial Trustees (two positions) (Garret Lecoq & Dan)

  • Electing Bargaining Team Unit 1 member (one position)

  • Conference Report Backs (Zoey and Pansee) (10 minutes total)

 

New Business

  • Unit 2 Strike Vote

  • Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee Feb. 20-23 (Zoey, Meg & Dan)

  • Results of Accessibility Survey and next steps

 

Announcements

  • Statement on plane crash & solidarity with those impacted 

  • Executive Council January 21st, 5-7:30pm in Paterson 234 (All Stewards, Committee Chairs, and Committee Members are expected to attend)

  • Stewards Training, February 8th, 2020 @ 9-12

Adjournment (8pm) 

 

Who to contact if you have concerns about this meeting:
In order to better put into practice the principles that are contained in the Equality Statement, specific individuals have volunteered to make themselves available to help address any issues that work against the full inclusion and participation of all our members. If you would like to talk to this volunteer, the chair will identify them at the beginning of the meeting.  Please contact Jo [they/them pronouns] at equitychair@cupe4600.ca. 

Board Reports

VP External -  Pansee Atta

Since my last report in November, I have continued representing the local in my capacity as VP External at a number of community events. In the Carleton community, I have given regular bargaining updates at the monthly GSA council meetings, which have been a great space for member outreach and maintaining strong ties with the GSA, with which we are closely allied. I have also worked with representatives from various on-campus organizations affected by the Ford government's Student Choice Initiative to try to find ways we can support them financially. Luckily, the courts have put the SCI on hold (pending an appeal by the provincial government), so that work is on hiatus until either the court case is resolved, or bargaining is completed.

Outside Carleton, I have been active in the broader labour community; I attended a conference organized  by the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa, where I was able to learn more about other academic locals' bargaining challenges and strategies, and draw attention to our own. I also attended a one-day Racial Justice conference, where I was able to practice conflit resolution and anti-racism skills; this incredibly helpful and productive skillset is outlined on the Migrant Justice Network's website, and has been (or will shortly be) sent out in the CUPE 4600 digest. Keep an eye out for that!

Before my term is up in April, I will be chairing an external affairs committee to brainstorm the ways that our local can act in solidarity with those resisting the many global crises currently underway. One of the ways we can do that is through donations from our local's International Social Justice Fund; right now, proposals for donations include but are not limited to: addressing the starvation crisis in Yemen, aiding Indigenous land defenders in South America, supporting fire fighters in Australia, and anti-war effors in Iran. If you are interested in attending or if you have ideas for worthy international causes that could use a donation, please contact me at vp.external@cupe4600.ca,

In solidarity,

Pansee Atta

Secratary Treasurer - Zahra Montazeri 

 

  1. Budget is updated for month of November and we had about 97k revenue in the month of November.

  2. The expenses were controlled and generally we didn’t expense more than we estimated in the budget.

  3. The accumulated deficit dropped to 40k in compare with our deficit at the end of summer which was more than 93k.

  4. We have over 187k in our operating account, over a million in the strike fund and over 4k  in the ISJF at the end of November.

  5. Finance committee recommended to update the travel policy, the last updated was in Feb 2016. The board approved to increase per diem from $55/per day to $91.5/per day. Rates for a half day and each meal are also updated accordingly. 

VP Unit 1 - Zoey Jones

 

Hello, members and friends,

 

Since my last board report, we have had a holiday and exam season, so my update this time is short!

 

Bargaining

 

We had one half day of bargaining last week, and one half day in December. We are continuing to trade proposed changes to articles with the Employer. They have returned to us on our proposal on Discipline, Suspension, & Discharge, and we are still in discussions about Article 4 (Discrimination and Harassment) with some major elements in contention. The Employer has not returned to us on most of our significant proposals, including proposing a cap for student to TA ratios, increasing wages, and expanding eligibility for Tuition Increase Assistance. They have indicated they might be willing to discuss monetary items (like wages) prior to a benefits solution, which we will be discussing at the GMM.

 

Joint Consultation Committee

 

As your VP Unit 1 and Bargaining Team Unit 1 chair, I attended a JCC meeting with our President and Business Agent to discuss hiring a consultant to investigate the situation with the EAF and our benefits. At this time, they have hired a consultant who is due to begin work next week.

 

Caucuses

We had one Unit 1 Caucus in December, where we went over existing proposals and the EAF situation in more detail. Thank you to everyone who attended!

 

Other Work

As VP Unit 1, I am writing a report on the responses to our Accessibility Survey to share with our membership, and will be brainstorming next steps to make our meetings and the Union more accessible with the Equity Committee. (If you would like to help us work on this, please contact us at info@cupe4600.ca!) I also was lucky enough to attend “CUPE Winter School” leadership training series in December, which was a week-long training course that covered aspects of leadership, the history of CUPE, bullying and harassment in the workplace/Union, and techniques for leading a healthy and respectful group. This was immensely valuable, and I look forward to sharing the information with my Unit 1 Bargaining Team and anyone else who is interested!

President - Meg Lonergan

To the CUPE 4600 Membership,

 

First, I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of one of our members who lost their life in the Tehran plane crash. Anyone needing work accommodation or referral to community services is asked to contact the union at info@cupe4600.ca. My thoughts are with the many families, friends, and communities impacted by this tragedy and the ongoing conflicts in Iran. Our own VP Internal Narges Zares, a dear friend and comrade,  is currently in Iran awaiting a flight back to Canada. In times like this we are reminded to be extra kind to one another and remain committed to fighting for both justice and peace.

 

Your bargaining teams continue to meet with the employer to negotiate  a new Collective Agreement. Unit 1 continues to negotiate non-monetary articles while we await the completion of  the external audit and the auditor’s report on the Employee Assistance Fund. Unit 2 has not yet received a monetary proposal-- despite asking for the monetary package for months-- and will be tabling our own proposal in attempts to gain parity with our counterparts at the University of Ottawa. As lead negotiator for the Unit 2 Team, I will admit my growing frustration with Carleton’s lack of willingness to substantively engage with our proposals on student teaching evaluations and their tabling of massive cuts to job security by gutting the protections under current incumbency language. We have reiterated that job security and teaching evaluations are  priorities of the membership given the financial limitations following the passage of Ford’s bill-124 (capping public sector monetary increases for salary at 1% per year). As a result we will almost certainly be taking steps towards job action this week; we need engagement from CIs and solidarity from TAs to ensure successful job action if and when the time comes. 

 

We are looking for a member to step up to chair the Mobilization Committee for Unit 1, joining Chief Steward Unit 2 Aayla who is currently chair for Unit 2. This is critical in a bargaining year! Your bargaining teams do not have the capacity to both bargain and mobilize the membership. Anyone who is interested is encouraged to reach out to our staff mobilization coordinator Pierre at  mobcor@cupe4600.ca  or myself at president@cupe4600.ca. You will be working closely with Abram our Chair for the Strike Committee and the awesome members of both of those committees with support from staff and the Executive Board. 

 

We are also looking for  two financial trustees to join current trustee Garrett Lecoq. We are now 3 years behind in our  audits and have a plan in place to finish the current audit as soon as possible. The trustees will receive training from CUPE Ontario and gain useful skills on how to do an audit.

 

I would like to thank our business agent Dan Sawyer for his tireless work with both bargaining teams and VP Unit 1/Lead Negotiator Unit 1 Zoey Jones & VP External Pansee Atta for really going the extra mile these last two months.

 

A union is as strong as its membership. I know we can get a better Collective Agreement this round of bargaining but it will take the membership getting involved and supporting your bargaining teams to ensure that we do. Your executive and your bargaining teams serve the membership and we need your strength and guidance to bring you the best possible deal. 

 

With high hopes,


Meg Lonergan, President of CUPE 4600

Unit 2 VP - Pat Warner

 

Fellow Contract Instructors of CUPE 4600 Unit 2

 

Since the last General Membership meeting, preparations for and then collective bargaining negotiations,  health and dental benefits issues, and generally routine matters involving the interpretation of the collective agreement have occupied the time I have spent on union business. 

 

Frankly, collective bargaining is the biggest challenge we face right now. 

You will hear from our lead negotiator how things are going at the bargaining table. 

 

I encourage as many of as possible to get involved on some level with our brothers and sisters to prepare for the day when we must apply pressure to the employer to ensure that they negotiate in good faith and fair, rather than the tactics we have faced so far, like attempts to cut job security.  Our interests are better served by an informed and prepared contract instructor base, ready to pressure the employer to do the right thing by us.

 

I know you will join with me in supporting our bargaining team in their efforts on our behalf. 

 

Patrick Warner 

Chief Steward Unit 2 - Aalya Ahmad

Since my previous report, I have been working closely with the Business Agent and Organizer on several grievances and issues raised by our members. 

While obviously grievances will differ between individual members, they have this in common; that they continue to reflect the power dynamics of our two-tiered system. We hear of treatment that would never be permitted to affect full-time faculty, dished out to our members from both administrators and students.

Our precarious status renders us especially vulnerable when it comes to trying to address issues of being treated poorly or in a discriminatory way by our students, who play a decisive role when it comes to our job security. I would be very interested to hear from more Contract Instructors on this issue. As you know, the Union is proposing reform to the teaching evaluation system currently in place.

Some issues for our Unit overlap with the role of our members as graduate students receiving external funding. In order to try to resolve these issues, we can be working more with the GSA.

My counterpart for the TA bargaining unit, Molly Horn, has been working with me on some initiatives to recruit and mobilize more folks for our Stewards network. To that end, we are organizing another training session for Stewards on February 8th, from 9-12 am (snacks and coffee will be provided). Please spread the word.

All Stewards are encouraged and expected to attend the next meeting of our Executive Council next week on the 21st.  As we are facing difficult conditions in bargaining, it is even more crucial that we get our network in better shape in order to rally the troops for possible job action.

In Solidarity,

Aalya Ahmad, Ph.D.
Chief Steward, Unit 2 (Contract Instructors)

Recording Secretary’s Report – Hesam Farahani

 

Hello, members and friends,

 

Thanks for taking time to attend the GMM and reading what your union has been up to. There was a huge amount of work last year, mainly bargaining, and it is not yet over. In a normal year, the bargaining itself is a lot of work and requires a great deal of patience, let alone when Ford government comes to power and Bill 124 comes across. I am not in the bargaining teams, but I have closely witnessed the trouble and difficulties that our bargaining teams have gone through.

 

The negotiations are getting heated and reaching their peaks. Unfortunately, Bill 124 is now passed and imposes 1% cap on every wage increase. However, your executive board members and bargaining teams have thought about some solutions. Attend CUPE 4600 meetings and get involve! We are seeking direction from our membership.

 

Our next mobilization committee meeting is next week. We will send you an email when the date, time and location is confirmed. If you are willing to get involve, contact any of your executive board members or staff. We are looking for chair of mobilization committee for unit 1. We are also looking for volunteers for office visits, tabling and a lot more! There is always sometime which appeals to different tastes.

 

Unfortunately, we lost many people in the Ukrainian airline Flight 752 crash. All 176 passengers were killed when the Ukraine International Airlines flight went down shortly after takeoff last Wednesday. Of the 138 passengers that were destined for Canada, more than half had a direct connection to a Canadian university and were students in 19 universities across Canada. After three days of lies, Iranian government finally accepted that the flight has been shot done. To honour the lives of the victims, a national moment of silence will be held at 1 p.m. EST this Wednesday, Jan. 15. I would be grateful if you could observe this minute of silence wherever you are on the Carleton campus. Please also join us on the same day for a Carleton vigil planned for 2 p.m. in the Tory Building foyer to honor Fareed Arasteh, PhD student in biology, and Mansour Pourjam, biology alumnus, and indeed all victims of this terrible tragedy. Condolence books will be available to sign.

 

Thanks for reading this report. Please contact me with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

 

In solidarity - Hesam

Other Reports

Report back from the CUPE Racial Justice Conference

Pansee Atta

 

On December 9, 2019, I attended a day-long Racial Justice conference organized by CUPE. I attended two workshops, one in the morning and one in the evening. The morning workshop was, frankly, less than entirely helpful: aimed at new members, it explained CUPE’s structures and bureaucracies, the basics of how union locals operate internally and in relation to CUPE National, and what kinds of resources and training National can offer (all this info can be found here).

The afternoon workshop was much more productive: it provided specific tools and strategies for addressing bigotry in general and anti-immigrant racism specifically, with ways of channeling that fear and hostility towards our shared struggles. It was led by a member of the Migrant Rights Network (whose newsletter I signed up for), which helpfully has a lot of this material online. This workshop was especially helpful not just because of how important it is to dismantle xenophobia, but also because the same strategy can be used in many of the mobilization and outreach efforts around issues unrelated to migrant rights.

This online guide is helpful, but I’ll summarise the 4-step conversation strategy as follows: hatred, hostility, and anger stem from fears that have, at their core, a kernel of legitimacy. This is because of specific, coordinated efforts by people far richer and more powerful than us who use fear as a strategy to defuse our shared struggles. This is why it’s crucial to draw attention to this, and why it’s critical to our work as labour activists. If we (and by ‘we’ I mean folks willing to take on the difficult emotional labour of having these deeply uncomfortable conversations) listen hard for what that kernel of truth is and genuinely sympathize with it, we can then offer people different, more productive ways of addressing those fears, and bring them on-side. That conversation looks something like this:

  1. Listen: Personally, I think this is the hardest step. You have to actually, really listen to what the person is saying, without interrupting, and while resisting the urge to yell at or argue with them about why they’re bad and wrong and dumb. Ask them questions, and listen for the emotional core of what they’re saying. Most bigotry is motivated by fear: fear of change, scarcity, or danger. People want to protect their loved ones, and keep the jobs they need to live and provide. People don’t want things to change so they can maintain a sense of control over their lives. All these things are normal, and maybe even commendable! 

  2. Acknowledge: This is the time to find common ground based on these shared values. We all care about our families and want them to be safe and well-provided for! We all want to live in a fair, democratic society that respects our rights! We’re all leading difficult lives, shaped by an economic scarcity that’s been imposed on us by the rich and powerful! We’re on the same page, and we’re in this together :) 

  3. New Facts: Based on whatever the relevant issue and common ground are, you can introduce -- in a tone of a friend sharing a neat thing they heard, and not a parent scolding a child -- actual facts that can change the terms of the discussion. Like: “Yeah, a lot of people think that! But did you know that actually, Canada only takes in an incredibly tiny number of refugees, given our population and GDP compared to other countries?” OR more in line with our work: “Actually, the amount you pay in union dues is significantly more than made up for by the increase in wages the union has won compared to non-unionized TAs!”

  4. Solidarity: Sometimes it’s easier and more tempting to fall in line with reactionary views because it can feel like if you acknowledge the enormity of the real problems out there, you’ll feel helpless to do anything about them. That’s why it’s crucial to end these conversations with a real sense of hope and possibility. This is where you redirect the fear and anger at those who really deserve it -- the rich and powerful that have manipulated us into working against each other. So like, “The thing is, we wouldn’t feel like there isn’t enough to go around to support both veterans AND refugees if billionaires just paid their taxes like the rest of us… or even just the $353 billion stashed in offshore tax havens!” or alternatively “We really shouldn’t be put in a position where we even have to think about going on strike over something as basic as benefits… did you know that Carleton has a $40 million surplus? The employer is the one choosing to put us in this position.”

Obviously, these talking points can and should be adapted to the specifics of the conversation, but I think the core idea is that it’s easier to get people on side if you practice the ability to listen for what’s driving their fear and hostility, and channel it into something positive and productive. One thing I realized was that I’ve already been using a version of this template when I have difficult conversations about race or gender in other aspects of my life; I suspect many of us are self-taught in this way as well :) 

As always, I’d be happy to chat more about this or any other aspect of the conference. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

 

In Solidarity,

Pansee Atta