Concerns raised by Food Service workers

Hello CUPE 3261 members, 

As you know, the University of Toronto has placed calls to both continuing and sessional, Full-Time and Part-Time, members in the Food Services Department; informing them of either their return to work, or the extension of their temporary layoff until December 31, 2020. The Employer has expressed to us that they have every intention to bring those who are temporarily laid off back to work as soon as possible.

In the event that your temporary layoff has been extended, the Employer will have sent you a letter confirming this as well as the subsidies you are eligible for. These subsidies include retaining your health care benefits coverage, to the extent you were enrolled, at no cost to you. It also outlines a weekly supplement of up to $250/week for those who are eligible and receiving either CERB or EI benefits.In the event that you have already been receiving the top-up, please ensure that you inform your Supervisor or Manager that you want to continue receiving the payments from the University of Toronto.

We understand that there has been a rise in anxiety around job security and financial stability with the news of extended temporary layoffs, and that there are concerns about how the Employer is calling members back to work. 

We heard your concerns and began having follow-up meetings and correspondence with both Human Resources and Labour Relations; that correspondence continues even now. These meetings are happening in order to clarify the process by which the Employer is calling back members, and if there are any conflicts with the provisions in our Collective Bargaining Agreement.

There are three things we have to consider when reviewing the Employer’s process of calling members back to work:

The Employer’s Management Rights

 Article 3:01

The Union acknowledges that it is the exclusive function of the Employer to:

  •  a)  maintain order, discipline and efficiency;
  •  b)  hire, discharge, classify, transfer, promote, layoff, suspend or otherwise discipline employees;
  • c)  establish and enforce rules and regulations, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement, governing the conduct of the employee, and
  • d)  generally to manage and operate the University of Toronto.

This means that the Employer is in the sole position to decide when and who will be brought back to work, or laid off, in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement provisions that apply to this situation.

The Two(2) Seniority Lists

 Article 16:01

  • (a) An employee will be considered on probation and will not acquire seniority until after they have worked for a total of ninety (90) working days for the Employer, when their seniority shall commence from the date of last hire. For the purposes of vacation requests (Article 18), job postings (Article 26 and Article 27) and layoff and displacement (Article 16), separate seniority lists will be kept for the full-time employees and regular part-time employees.

This means that there are two separate seniority lists; one for Full-Time and Casual employees, and one for Part-Time employees. The employer can choose to bring back either Part-Time or Full-Time works, or a mixture of both. But they will be brought back according to their individual seniority lists. The seniority list of Full-Time members does not affect the seniority list of Part-Time members, and vice versa.

Job Classification

  • The employer is considering members’ job classification when looking at who to call back to work. These classifications include: Cook, Lead Hand, Cafeteria Worker, Driver, etc. When calling back specific members according to job classification, they must go according to seniority for the position.

Out of all three of these factors, the Union has found an issue with two aspects of the call-backs of the Full-Time membersre-assigning the job classification of some of the members getting called back and where their seniority puts them on the list. Members are being brought back and reassigned to a lower classification position with lower wages than their original position. This reassignment also affects those who would normally fill those lower classification positions, but are now on extended temporary layoffs. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Employer should be calling back members under their current/new job classification according to their seniority. For those who are being re-assigned to a lower classification, their seniority date now applies to all those in the same job classification.

The Union has brought this to the attention of Labour Relations, and is currently awaiting a response in order to move forward in correcting this issue.

We thank everyone who has come forward to voice their concerns. If you believe your seniority was not taken into account when the University of Toronto was calling employees back to work, please contact CUPE Local 3261 at:

703 Spadina Avenue
2nd Floor

We will update you as more information becomes available.

In solidarity, 
CUPE 3261 Executive