February 27 GMM Update

Thank you to everyone who attended the last General Membership Meeting. 

Here are a couple of updates from the meeting: 

  • We are happy to announce that Wilson Franco has been acclaimed as the Full-time/part-time Unit Representative. Wilson is a maintenance technician at UTM, and we are excited to have him as part of the executive team. Welcome, Wilson! 
  • We encourage members who are interested in joining the fight for decent work to join the next meeting for UofT’s Decent Work Chapter on March 11th from 6-8pm. If you are interested, please email us at president@cupe3261.ca. The Decent Work chapter is about:
    • Minimum labour standards at U of T are winnable through a campaign approach – and can be coordinated to boost bargaining power
    • We can help boost the provincial campaign to win Paid Sick Leave for all workers in the ESA. This is about winning meaningful racial justice, as well as reducing community transmission.
    • Doing this campaign work now will position us well to organize members of our community (at U of T) to help get rid of anti-worker and anti-student governments
  • Members also discussed issues with lack of transparency by U of T on reporting cases of COVID-19. The union will continue working with the employer to make sure our members are informed and kept safe. 

Remember, if you feel unsafe at work, including for reasons related to COVID-19, you have a right to refuse. Talk to your union and inform your supervisor. 

All the best,

CUPE 3261

General Membership Meeting on February 27

Dear CUPE 3261 Members,

Your union is having its next General Membership Meeting on February 27th, 2021. The meeting will be held online via Zoom from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. 

Join the meeting with this link here. More information on how to join the Zoom meeting can be found below. 

We encourage all members to join! Even if you’ve never joined a meeting before, it’s a great way to learn more about what your union is doing, our financial position, the issues we’re facing, and opportunities for getting more involved. It’s also an opportunity to ask questions on any general workplace issues and share your thoughts on what the union should do. Remember, this is your union! 

Agenda for the Meeting: 

  1. Roll call of officers
  2. Reading of the Equality Statement
  3. Reading and approval of minutes of the previous meeting 
  4. Matters arising
  5. President’s report
  6. Nominations for full-time/part-time representative
  7. Unfinished Business
  8. New Business
  9. Adjournment

Position up for election
There is a vacancy in the executive for a Full-time/Part-time representative. We encourage any member who is passionate about fighting for better workplace conditions to run for the position! Nominations will be held at the meeting. If the nomination is contested, an election will be held at the following Membership Meeting in June. Feel free to consult the bylaws on page 13 under “Unit Representative” to learn more about the position. 

Holiday Message

Dear CUPE 3261 Members,

As we navigate through this pandemic it is very important to remember and remain hopeful for everything you have. The people you care about, your family and loved ones. When we are faced with adversity in our life, we have a choice to make.

We can choose to give up, or believe in the notion that our life is defined by the action we take.

I believe there is good in everyone, we sometimes let our ego take over in trying to convince ourselves about trivial things, or what society taught us to believe.

As a creation of excellence, let us not ignore our humanity and the true purpose of life. We all want to be loved, we all want to be accepted, we all must live and we all must die at some point, this is called life.

We live in an imperfect society, life isn’t always fair at times. Let’s not be defined by this, but by how we react to the challenges that are put in front of us. We all have the capacity to overcome anything we put our mind to, however, we must also be willing to put in the work to achieve this.

As this year comes to an end, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all members Happy Holidays.

Stay safe. Looking forward to seeing you in 2021.

Respectfully yours,

Allan James
CUPE 3261 Executive

Cancellation of Holiday Parties + Gift Policy

Dear Members,

At our last General Membership Meeting held on October 31st 2020 via Zoom, we regrettably informed you that there will be no holiday parties this December 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions currently in effect. We are disappointed we cannot meet one another, but we are committed to doing our part to limit community transmission by following these restrictions.

Some members have asked if it is possible to hand out gift cards or gifts to all members this year. After reviewing the CUPE National constitution and direction from the CUPE National President’s office, it became clear to the CUPE 3261 Executive Committee that this is not possible.

While CUPE National advises us that we can order food at events to encourage member participation and socializing, we are not allowed to hand out gifts to members using union dues. The main purpose of union dues is to advance our collective union work: to improve our working conditions and lives, and to make sure the employer respects our rights at work.

We work for an institution that has enormous resources at its disposal. But each of us pays dues so that, as workers, we can pool together our resources to fight for fairness at work, enforce our collective agreement language, prepare bargaining campaigns, book off members to build our power in the workplace, campaign against contracting out of our work, and contribute to CUPE National’s staffing costs to get the support of staff such as Leanne, Preethy, CUPE Legal, CUPE Research, CUPE Education, CUPE Health & Safety and more. Unions also often make donations to organizations that are also fighting for workers. These are some of the reasons why CUPE National does not allow the spending of union dues on gifts. Additionally, there could also be risk of tax implications for our members and our local if we violate this rule.

We value the health and well-being of all our members and hope to resume holiday parties next year.

In solidarity and always with you,

CUPE 3261 Executive Committee

General Membership Meeting 

Date: Saturday, October 31st, 2020
Time: 10am – 12pm

Dear members,

Your union will be having its next General Membership Meeting (GMM) soon and we encourage all members to attend. We will be providing an update on the issues facing our members and campus and what the union has been working on. We will also be providing a brief financial update. 

The position for Vice-President is also vacant and we will be holding nominations for the position. If you are interested, you will have the opportunity to nominate yourself during the meeting. If the position is contested, an election will be held at the February GMM.  As always, we encourage members who are passionate about making change to get involved in the executive. 

The meeting will be held online via Zoom this October 31st from 10am-12pm. Click here for the link.

If you have any questions about the GMM, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Yours truly,
CUPE 3261 Executive

Transitioning from CERB to EI

Hello CUPE members,

You all may know by now that the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is coming to an end on October 3rd. If you were receiving this benefit, your last payment should have been paid out already, and your transition to Employment Insurance (EI) is the next step. The new, temporary, version of EI that the government will be providing has made the eligibility requirements more lenient, in respect to the reality of the pandemic and its effect on jobs and the economy.

The new criteria is as follows and will be in effect for one year from September 27, 2020

  1. A minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% applies to all regions across Canada starting August 9, 2020
    • If your region’s unemployment rate is higher than 13.1%, we’ll use the higher actual rate to calculate your benefits
  2. You only need 120 insured hours to qualify for benefits because you’ll receive a one-time credit of:
    • 300 insured hours if you’re applying for regular benefits
    • 480 insured hours if you’re applying for sickness, maternity, parental or caregiving benefits
  3. You’ll receive at least $500 per week before taxes, or $300 per week before taxes for extended parental benefits but you could receive more
    • If you’re a fisher, we’ll look at the earnings from your 2018, 2019 and 2020 summer or winter seasons to determine your benefit rate and establish your claim for the same season
  4. If you received the CERB, the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended

Your transition from CERB to EI will happen in one of two ways depending on what government agency was providing you with your CERB payments. The following information has been taken directly from the Canadian Government website.

If You Received The CERB Through Service Canada

In most cases, you do not need to apply for EI benefits. After you receive your last CERB payment, continue completing reports. We (Service Canada) will automatically review your file and your Record Of Employment (ROE), then start a claim for EI regular benefits if you qualify.

Please Note: You can view your file, ROE, and claim through your My Service Canada Account (MSCA).

If you don’t qualify for EI, you’ll be notified by mail.

You will need to apply for EI after your CERB ends if:
    •    you have a SIN that starts with a 9
    •    you’re self-employed, or
    •    you declared that you returned to work full-time on your CERB report

If You Received The CERB Through The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

You need to receive all your CERB payments before applying for EI benefits. You can apply after the end of your last CERB eligibility period. Visit EI benefits and leave to determine which benefit is right for your situation and to apply online.
We (Service Canada) recognize that you may experience difficulties applying online as we’re receiving a large volume of applications. If you’re unable to apply online, please try again later.

Once we’ve determined that you’re eligible to receive EI benefits and have completed your first biweekly report, you’ll receive your first payment. This should occur within 28 days of applying. If you apply for regular or sickness benefits, you’ll have to complete reports for as long as you receive benefits to continue getting paid.

Additional Information

If you would like to review any of this information on the Government of Canada website, or inquire about other benefits you may be eligible for, we recommend you visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/notice-covid-19.html#h2.02

If you were receiving your CERB payments from Service Canada, and would like to contact a CERB agent about the transition to EI, please call 1-833-966-2099.

If you would like to speak to someone at the CUPE 3261 office, please call 416-946-7620, or email your president Allan James at president@cupe3261.ca

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

Tentative Agreement has been ratified

Thank you to all those that came out to our meetings and voted on the tentative agreement for the Full Time and Part Time Bargaining Unit this past Friday. 

The overwhelming majority of members voted in favour of the Tentative Agreement (Memorandum of Settlement). The results are: 

94% YES
6% NO

The Tentative Agreement is now available on the website for your review (under “Resources”). 

The agreement is in effect until June 30th, 2021, at which point we will resume negotiations for a new Collective Agreement. 

Thank you once again,
CUPE 3261 Executive 

“Service workers’ union petitions to stop U of T from outsourcing caretaking services”


Ron Saporta, Chief Operating Officer Property Services and Sustainability claims workers are being contracted out “‘to allow for flexibility as the COVID-19 situation evolves, and to ensure cost-effectiveness.’” “Flexibility” as we already know is just another term to describe employers having more control over workers. “Flexibility” means not worrying about workers reporting issues to a strong union, or having to deal with providing benefits, sick days, or other rights union workers have. And being cost-effective, well, it means exactly that. It means saving money by hiring private companies that pay workers poverty wages with low cleaning standards. 

He goes on to say: “‘We will continue to deliver high quality service, adhering to consistent cleaning protocols across campus and using cleaning products approved for use against COVID-19,’expressed Saporta, also noting that the staff of the external companies is unionized.” 

There are unions that actively represent workers and have historically fought for strong collective agreement rights. That’s what CUPE is. Then there are unions that sign away 10-year agreements, agreeing to provisions favourable to the employer while leaving workers in the dirt. The cleaners on St. George campus deserve strong union protection, and meeting the minimum requirement of having a union, in name only, does not mean workers are being advocated for or adequately represented. We urge the University to show us their collective agreement, and we can see for ourselves what kind of provisions they have. 

U of T made a choice to hire contracted out workers. But they also had a choice to hire CUPE 3261 caretakers. COVID-19 was announced as a pandemic in early March 2020, and the University had ample time to hire more caretakers in anticipation of the September reopening. Instead, they cancelled the contracts of temporary CUPE workers and moved permanent caretakers out of 18 buildings. When faced with operational changes, U of T has the option of hiring “term” CUPE 3261 employees, who can work up to two years and receive many of the same protections as their permanent counterparts. They can also hire “temporary” employees for up to 120 days, whom although are excluded from many benefits of the collective agreement, still have decent wages, strong union representation, and a preference for applying to permanent positions. But if their employment exceeds 120 days, these employees will receive all benefits covered by the collective agreement. 

These options were not considered, and U of T’s irresponsible and shameful decision to privatize cleaning services is a slap in the face for workers already struggling in this difficult COVID-19 economy, and to all community members who want the best health and safety standards on campus. 

We must end contracting out.  Sign and share the petition. 

Voting Locations for September 11th Ratification Vote

Our locations for in-person voting have been confirmed. If you did not register for online voting, you can attend in person. Voting is tomorrow, Friday September 11th. 

The booths will be open: 12PM-2PM, 5PM-7PM, 10PM-12AM

Make sure to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, and bring a piece of ID to confirm your identity.

As a friendly reminder, the vote tomorrow is for Full Time and Part Time members of the main bargaining committee. If you work at 89 chestnut, press/retail, faculty club, or are casual, you are not eligible to vote!  

St. George

  • Outside of Sidney Smith Hall – St. George Street side at the patio up the stairs(100 St. George Street)


  • Student Centre overhang between The Blind Duck and the convenience store


  • Humanities-Wing Patio

If you haven’t yet, please review the agreement. 

To see the bulletin, click here.

The full agreement is available here for your review.