May 082015

Free First Aid Training is a benefit guaranteed under each of our three Collective Agreements (CAs) and available to TAs/RAs in lieu (Article 18.13 of Unit 1 CBA), Sessional Faculty/Hourly-Rated Sessional Music Faculty (Article 17.13 of Unit 2 CBA) and Post Docs (Article 14.12 of the Unit 3 CBA).

The course, a Standard Red Cross certificate course, is offered being offered on a number of dates this spring through Athletics and Recreation, and the cost of registration is covered by the Employer. The course runs from 9-5 on both days, and the open dates are:

May: 5/6, 12/13, 23/24, and 27/28

June: 2/3, 11/12, 13/14, 18/19, and 23/24

You will need to attend both days in order to receive the certificate.

The sessions are being held on campus here. More information can be found in the McMaster Athletics and Recreation 2014/2015 Fall/Winter Program. If you have questions about the specifics of the material being offered, please contact Athletics and Recreation at ext. 24464.  They are the ones who are offering and teaching the class. Online registration is not an option.

More details are available here:

If you are a TA/RA in lieu and working in a different department/program other than the one that you are registered in as a student, registration should be done through your academic department.

Normally, the Administrator (Graduate Secretary) from your academic department or program will need to register you as they must provide the departmental code so the cost can be billed accordingly. This charge cannot be passed on to you.

May 082015

Our May General Membership Meeting will be held on Wednesday May 13th at noon in DSB B-105. Pizza and childcare (on request) are provided. We have some important items on the agenda, including a detailed benefits report and update, a campaign update on mental health services at McMaster, and the election of two trustees (needed to perform a yearly audit of the union’s finances). We hope to see you all there.



Apr 292015

Dear CUPE 3906 members,

On March 31, graduate students voted overwhelmingly to reject the administration’s proposed supplementary fee protocol, which was presented and debated at the Graduate Student Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The proposed protocol — lobbied for on behalf of the administration by the Associate Vice-President and Dean of Students, Sean Van Koughnett — was advertised as providing improvements to mental health, personal counseling, and career services, but would have resulted in a significant increase in the ancillary fees paid by graduate students each term.

During the AGM, individual members of the CUPE 3906 Executive Committee spoke out against the proposal, and raised concerns about the administration downloading the costs associated with these services onto the backs of students.

As a result of voting down this proposal, graduate students are now being threatened with service cuts, and we fear that these cuts are putting lives at risk.

Forward with integrity and compassion

The majority of graduate students value and support the expansion of these services, but are frustrated by the limited number of choices that have been presented thus far: either pay up, or prepare for cutbacks.

We believe that this approach only serves to polarize the conversation on terms that systematically disadvantage students from poor and low-income families, students enrolled in graduate programs with lower levels of guaranteed funding, international students who pay higher tuition, and those in most immediate need of mental health support. The outcome of such an approach is squarely at odds with McMaster’s new Student Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy, which speaks of a commitment to building “a culture of caring,” and fostering “a healthy, supportive and inclusive educational environment.” If McMaster truly wants to be a leader in “mental health and research expertise,” it needs to do better.

As many of you know first hand, post-secondary education is already unaffordable. Ontario graduate students pay the highest tuition fees in Canada, and are saddled with increasingly unsustainable levels of debt. This is particularly true for international graduate students, who regularly face steep tuition hikes due to a lack of provincial regulation, as well as additional fees not required of domestic students.

Sadly, McMaster’s Board of Governors has shown no interest in making the lives of students more affordable, voting each year to increase tuition fees to the highest allowable amount. As tuition fees and debt levels continue to rise, graduate students are forced to work more part-time jobs during their studies, acquiring more stress and anxiety as a result. These facts need to be part of every conversation that we are having about mental health services, academic success, and the future of our educational environment.

We agree with Sean Van Koughnett when he says that “without these support services, it makes your academic success much more difficult. In some cases, for some students, it’s absolutely critical that they have access to these services. They wouldn’t be here without them.”

That is why the CUPE 3906 Executive Committee is calling on the McMaster University administration to:

  • Immediately stop and reverse the planned cuts to mental health, personal counseling, and career services for graduate students; and
  • Allocate new funds in the upcoming 2015/16 operating budget to reflect a principled commitment to the mental health and wellness of students and workers at McMaster.

If you agree with us, please consider supporting our campaign by:

  1. Signing our petition — 
  2. Liking our campaign Facebook page — 
  3. Sending an email to Patrick Deane ( and Sean Van Koughnett (, letting them know how you feel about the cuts to our services
  4. Attending our next General Membership Meeting on May 13 at Noon, where we will be discussing this issue further (more information will be posted soon at

In Solidarity,

Evan Johnston
President, CUPE 3906

On behalf of the CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

Apr 292015

The Unit 2 Professional Development Fund (PDF) applications will be adjudicated by the benefits committee on May 19th and cheques will be processed shortly thereafter.  We apologize for the delay and any inconvenience that this may cause.


Apr 282015

Every year, around the world, unions mark the International Day of Mourning on April 28 to honour workers killed or injured on the job. It’s an important date for the labour movement: we remember those workers we’ve lost, and fight for better standards for today’s workers.

In 2014, six CUPE members lost their lives, and just four months into 2015 already five CUPE members have died on the job.

“It’s deeply troubling, the number of deaths we’ve seen recently,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Our hearts go out to the families and the friends and colleagues of these workers.”

We will be holding our McMaster observance in MDCL 3024 from 12:00 to 1:00