Ratification Meeting – September 11th, 2020

A tentative agreement has been reached for the “main” bargaining unit – full-time and part-time members at St. George, UTM and UTSC. In order for the tentative agreement to be accepted by the members, they have to ratify it through a vote.

Ratification meetings for a new tentative agreement will be held on Friday, September 11th. This process will be held entirely online, including the meeting and the voting process.

Members must register and attend a ratification meeting in order to be eligible to vote. Registration closes September 8th at 12:00pm.

Once you register, you will receive a link to the zoom meeting shortly before the meeting.

We will have three separate ratification meetings on September 11th: You must attend one to vote.

  • 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
  • 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • 10:00 pm – 12:00 am

Register Here

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us at president@cupe3261.ca

Contracting out and Health & Safety Update

Contracting Out

We must continue working together to organize all our members to put pressure on U of T to stop contracting out. Our demand is simple:

Bring cleaning in-house so that our members can ensure that the necessary health and safety standards are being met AND show the employer that we will continue to fight back anytime they move to contract out instead of hiring CUPE members

Our campaign will need high participation from members and the community abroad. While we continue to prepare more material such as posters, brochures, and videos, we ask members to continue sharing the petition and to visit and share the contracting out website https://www.endcontractingout.com/ 

We also encourage members and the U of T community abroad to send a message directly to U of T President Meric Gertler VP of Operations and Real Estate Partnerships Scott Mabury, and VP of Human Resources and Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat to demand they end contracting out. 

  • Ask them why they are contracting out cleaning services while members are laid off and especially during COVID-19. It has been proven time after time that private, contracted out cleaning reduces service quality and puts our health and safety at risk, while in-house work provides higher quality cleaning. 
  • Ask them why they believe it is okay for the University to pay poverty level wages, and to increase the share of workers without paid sick days during a pandemic. 
  • Ask them why they are okay with undermining unionized work, and why they are okay with normalizing precarious work on campus. 

Talk to your colleagues, let them know what is happening, and get them to sign the petition. 

Health and Safety 

U of T has failed to provide adequate consultations with labour and student groups on campus. We have been working with other groups as part of a coalition by coordinating, sharing information, and providing updates. On August 24th, labour groups including CUPE 3261 held a townhall discussing the science behind COVID-19. It has become clear to us that U of T continues to use out-dated scientific research on COVID-19 in their reopening plan, such as by not taking into serious consideration presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, as well as airborne transmission. 

Our hope is to ensure the University take into account the risks involved with allowing for any in-person classes at U of T. The risk of another outbreak is too high, and would put many of our members in serious risk. 

We continue to encourage members follow health and safety procedures at work place, including ensuring you have adequate personal protective equipment, and to follow physical distancing when possible.  COVID has been around for a while now, and we know many people are facing “pandemic fatigue.” Meanwhile, the reopening of most businesses has made it feel that we are almost back to normal. This is understandable, but the virus is still in full swing, so please do your best to keep everyone around you safe by following health and safety guidelines. And as always, if you do feel unsafe, you may carry a work refusal, and report any issues to your supervisor, manager, and union. 

Contracting out of Caretakers

Dear Members,

We have recently received emails and phone calls regarding CUPE member concerns of the ongoing contracting out of caretakers by the employer. Some members have inquired why the union did not attend the several meetings with caretakers and supervisors. The union was not invited to these meetings, and these meetings were held without official knowledge of the union. 

However, this does not change much of the situation. Under the Collective Agreement, the employer has the right to contract out work as long as existing CUPE 3261 members do not lose their jobs. 

We have raised our opposition to the employer about this move, and made it clear that they have the option to hire temporary CUPE 3261 employees, as well as hire from existing members who have been laid off due to COVID-19. This idea has been ignored. Instead, the employer would prefer to save money by hiring caretakers from a private company – justifying and normalizing low-wage labour under the guise of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. 

While the union will do what it can to protest this move, it is paramount that members take action as well to help us protest. The union leadership will be developing campaign material in the coming weeks, including posters, leaflets, videos, town halls,  online notices, and organizing potential action through pickets and protest. 

If members want to see U of T stop contracting out, then we must work together to raise awareness. Sign the petition if you haven’t yet, share it with your colleagues, and when the time comes, we will need your increased participation so that U of T hears us, and knows that contracting out will not be taken lightly by workers and the public alike.

In solidarity,

CUPE 3261 Executive

Sign the Petition to End Contracting Out


Click to here to sign the Petition to End Contracting Out of Caretaking Services

Dear Members,

The University of Toronto recently informed us that they will begin contracting out caretaking services in 16 buildings across the St. George Campus, including Robarts, Rotman, OISE, Innis, and others. Many caretakers have already been updated of the situation by their supervisors. The union has been aware for a few days now, and is updating you now after waiting for more details to roll in. 

In order to facilitate this process, U of T will be transferring many of our caretakers to new buildings to be replaced by contract workers as of Monday, August 17th. 

As some of you may already know, this move is permitted under our collective agreement. The language has existed for years, and the employer has insisted on maintaining this right despite the union’s attempt to prohibit it during every round of negotiations. 

However, this does not mean any of our members will lose their jobs. Our job security is guaranteed by the collective agreement, and the employer cannot replace you and your colleagues with contracted out workers. 

This practice is not without precedent. Despite our ongoing opposition, U of T constantly contracts out work that is normally done by our members (i.e. within caretaking, security, and even food services). A few years ago, U of T embarked on a policy of attrition, where they would wait for our caretakers to retire until a building was empty enough to be replaced by contract workers. During this time, we mounted a campaign to end this practice, and fortunately we have not seen this practice for two years now. 

However, because of COVID-19, U of T is looking to ramp up its caretaking operations across campus. Instead of hiring CUPE 3261 members, U of T is looking at cutting costs by hiring low-paid workers who will have no benefits and inadequate union representation. 

We have already protested this move by asking U of T to hire CUPE 3261 workers. For example, we already have many food service workers who are laid off waiting to come back to work, as well as a large pool of casual workers who have little to no hours as it is. We also informed U of T that even if they require workers for a short period of time, they can hire additional temporary CUPE workers, who would at least have access to decent wages and benefits. Although U of T told the union that it will “consider” these options, they immediately moved forward with their plan and informed supervisors the very next day. 

At a time when so many of us are facing income insecurity, U of T’s plan to hire low-paid workers serves to only worsen our collective situation. Instead, U of T has an opportunity to offer high-quality employment to both our members and the broader community. If U of T truly cared about maintaining good working conditions,  health and safety, and creating a high quality work environment, they would not contract out our work to private companies. 

We have we created a petition demanding U of T to stop contracting out. 

Please take 30 seconds to sign it!

We will continue our negotiations with U of T, but more importantly, we will begin organizing a campaign to demand U of T end its unjustifiable practice of contracting out. We simply cannot allow U of T to normalize low-wage work. By hiring CUPE 3261 members, workers will have access to good benefits, decent wages, and have a strong union that advocates for them.

But this all means we will need your support. All of us need to be ready to support one another, whether it’s something as simple as signing the petition, or when the time comes, coming out to rallies or pickets. U of T will not budge unless we act, and our president or executive cannot do it alone. We need to do this together. 

If you have any further questions, you can contact us by email or phone.

In solidarity, 
CUPE 3261 Executive

U of T’s Reopening Plan is NOT Safe Enough – Make Fall 2020 Online

Dear members,

CUPE 3261 and other unions and labour groups on campus are demanding U of T meaningfully involve us in developing safe reopening policy. We are coordinating with labour and student organizations to ensure safety for all even though U of T has taken the position that they will only meet with us separately. 

Unlike other universities, U of T has not yet decided to take Fall 2020 classes online, despite evidence showing that classroom instruction poses a huge health and safety risk for students and various groups of workers on campus. As many of you know, COVID-19 can be spread through airborne transmission, which can be facilitated by large numbers, poor ventilation, and louder talking. Furthermore, the administration has not taken into account the significance of presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission. This means sometimes it is virtually impossible to tell if someone has COVID-19. 

The best solution is to assume that everyone could have it. U of T’s current September plan is not safe enough. This means our members could be exposed to a much higher level of risk than they currently are on campus. 

As a result, CUPE 3261 and other labour groups have created a petition demanding that U of T put a pause and take Fall 2020 online. This is about the health and safety of everyone. This is about ensuring people do not get needlessly sick. This is also about equity – workers and students, including those who are racialized, experiencing economic insecurity, and more likely to live in cramped housing will face the highest risk of getting COVID-19. That is unacceptable .

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation for all of us. This also means taking unprecedented action. Having less students on campus may be difficult for some of our workers, especially those who are hoping operations return to normal so that work schedules are adequately restored. CUPE 3261 is taking the position that we want safe work for our members. Our members’ well-being is our top priority. 

Please sign the petition below to have your voice heard and support us in asking the University to take fall 2020 online. Join us in telling U of T that it needs to listen and work with labour and student groups while developing a reopening strategy. 


Please sign and share our petition to bring Fall 2020 online

The Varsity: “U of T must do better to support the lives and livelihoods of its workers during COVID-19”

A wealthy, globally-ranked public institution that claims to be a model employer dedicated to advancing the public good must do better for all members of its community. The funds are available; what we need is leadership from the senior administration, with meaningful consultation from the staff, students, and faculty who are most affected. Now is the time for leadership to mobilize our institution’s wealth and influence — to protect lives and livelihoods, and to sustain the important role of every member of our tri-campus community through this crisis.

Read the article here: 

Op-ed: U of T must do better to support the lives and livelihoods of its workers during COVID-19

New Union Office Hours

The CUPE 3261 office at 703 Spadina Ave. 2nd floor, will now have “office hours” every Wednesday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. 

As most members know, our full-time President Allan James works Monday to Friday from around 9:00am to 5:00pm. However, he may not always be at the office, or may be busy with other business or meetings. As a result, members have to set up an appointment if they want to directly meet with Allan. 

However, starting this week, the union will now be hosting a weekly office hours, where members can come to the office without appointment if they want to bring up any issues or concerns where they believe the union can help out. 

Because of COVID-19, we do encourage members to call or email Allan with your concerns. However, if you feel that an in-person meeting is necessary, you can call or email to set up an appointment, or utilize our new office hours and come in on Wednesdays between 1pm-3pm without appointment. 

As always, protective measures against COVID-19 are important, and we ask members to wear masks and maintain some distance from others when inside the office. 


COVID-19 Update – July 14, 2020

Dear members,

The executive has distributed more than 650 reusable non-medical masks to workplaces across St. George, UTM and UTSC. We have few masks left at the office, and ask you to contact us directly if you still need one. We have another shipment coming in 2-3 weeks, and we’ll be able to provide extra masks to all members then. 

U of T has also began distributing two reusable masks to each staff member. Some members have received theirs, while others are still waiting. Every member should receive their U of T masks within the next few days. 

Did you know that you can insert filters into your CUPE mask for extra protection? You can use paper products like coffee filters, paper towels or toilet paper,  or cut out a piece of a HEPA filter, or simply use a soft, breathable fabric such as nylon, cotton, or linen. 

CUPE 3261 continues to actively coordinate with other unions on campus to ensure workers are protected. We are working with the university to make sure that unions like ours have a say in the re-opening of campus. This involves active participation in the health and safety policies being developed for September to ensure a smooth and safe return for students and staff to campus. 

For more information on how the university plans on reopening, please visit UTogether2020: A Roadmap for the University of Toronto

In terms of how September will look like, what we do know is that at this point, it is estimated that roughly 90% of undergraduate courses will be offered online, with around one third providing optional in-person components. A higher proportion of graduate courses will be offered in person due to smaller class sizes. 

An online form has been made available by U of T for those who have questions about what September will look like. You can submit your questions here: https://www.utoronto.ca/covid19-contact 

New Facebook Group

To facilitate better communication between members and the executive, we now have a new Facebook Group. Members are encouraged to join the group, where together we can have discussions, share resources, ask each other questions, share concerns, and receive updates from the executive.  

To join the group, visit the link here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cupe3261/ 


The Varsity: “U of T temporarily lays off scores of service workers amidst COVID-19 pandemic”

“The reality is that workers were already suffering before the pandemic,” James wrote. “Now they are suffering more, and our future looks uncertain.” 

He urges all levels of government to address the bigger picture of income inequality and “invest in people, invest in strong public services, support decent work and fair minimum labor standards and focus on getting us through COVID and beyond without imposing any cuts or austerity policies.

– Allan James, CUPE 3261 President

See the article here:

U of T temporarily lays off scores of service workers amidst COVID-19 pandemic