Finishing a PhD in 4 years? Probably not

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We’re asking our members to #LetUsKnow why they haven’t completed their PhD in 4 years, or why they know they won’t be able to do so. Support and Employment for 5th year PhD students is a key part of a #BetterMac and reflects the reality of doctoral studies



Strike Vote Results

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Dear Unit 1 (TA/RA in lieu) Members,

We would like to thank you for coming out to our polling stations over the last few days and for giving us a clear strike vote mandate.

We are heartened by the support that a 72% ‘YES’ result represents. This shows a real commitment to fair wages, job security, better working conditions, and a stop to further outsourcing of Unit 1 work on campus. Having heard the collective voice of our membership, we feel empowered to bargain a fair Collective Agreement for a #BetterMac.

We are going to put your support into action at the bargaining table and we are committed to continuing to engage you, our members, throughout the process.

The next step is conciliation. Keep an eye out for our updates and we look forward to seeing you at our bargaining support initiatives and General Membership Meetings.

In solidarity,

Your CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Team

Unit 1 (TAs/RAs in lieu) strike vote notice and information

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Member,


We are writing to you today with some disappointing news about Unit 1 bargaining. While it is true that we have made progress on several important issues for our members, the University’s representatives at the table (hereafter ‘the Employer’) has signaled to us that they believe they have come as far as they can on matters of wages, working conditions, job security, and outsourcing. Despite our Bargaining Team’s insistence that we would like to keep talking, the Employer informed us at our last meeting that they would not be able to meet with us for another two and a half weeks.

Your Union cannot accept the Employer’s position on these important issues, nor can we accept the tacit trivialization of these negotiations that their refusal to meet until the end of the month represents. So we find ourselves at a crossroads.

It is worth recounting, in brief, how we got to this point. Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants (in lieu) will recall that we reached out to them in January of this year with a survey asking what their bargaining priorities were. The results of that survey indicated that Unit 1 members wanted, among other things, better and more reliable funding through employment, increased benefits, and mental health supports. These priorities all fall under the umbrella of job security, fair pay, and access to good working conditions.

Your elected Bargaining Team then began meeting with the Employer in July. We were shocked to discover among the Employer’s initial proposals language that compromised the employment guarantee offered to incoming graduate students as well as proposed changes to the dental plan that were sure to result in increased costs to members or even the total erosion of the plan itself. Over the last few months, your Bargaining Team has successfully convinced the Employer to withdraw or modify these proposals. The graduate employment guarantee will be maintained and your dental plan is safe. On top of that, we have negotiated access to mental health supports under the Employee and Family Assistance Program for all Unit 1 members, an especially important victory in light of the recent cuts to on-campus services for graduate students.

All of this is good news for graduate and undergraduate TAs and RAs in lieu. But our work is not done.

There are still proposals on the table that either compromise or fail to address your job security, access to fair wages, and good working conditions. For example, the Employer has not offered a satisfactory reply to our proposal to protect TAs from being forced to divide their per-term contract hours between 3 or more courses, nor have they tabled a workable solution to the problem of how to support the increasing number of PhD students who lose access to funding through employment in their 5th and 6th years of study. We are also seeing the work of our unit devalued by outsourcing on campus, while the wage gap between undergraduate and graduate TAs continues to grow, putting our undergraduate members in a more vulnerable position while ignoring the principle of equal pay for equal work.

We believe that we can hold to our priorities and get a fair deal for TAs and RAs in lieu, but we need your help to do it. There is a time in the bargaining process where words at the table will not suffice. The Employer needs to see action.

    This is why we are taking a Strike Vote, beginning on November 1st.

A strong strike vote will empower the bargaining team with a clear mandate and will help to kick-start these negotiations. It is important to note, though, that a successful mandate from a strike vote does not mean that we are automatically going on strike. Rather, it gives the Bargaining Team the ability to call a strike later on in the process as a matter of last resort. While this is the last vote that will be taken before the end of negotiations, we will – as always – continue to consult with membership to help us decide what next steps to take.

There will be an opportunity for membership to bring questions and voice concerns about the vote at our upcoming General Membership Meeting, tomorrow, October 25, 2016 in BSB B136, beginning at 4:00PM.

    The vote itself will begin at the end of the Special General Membership Meeting on November 1st at 6:00PM at Westdale United Church (99 N Oval). Doors will be open at 5:30PM. This meeting will also be another chance to for us to hear from you. Voting will commence for 90 minutes following this meeting and will continue from 10:00AM – 5:00PM in the lobbies of Mills Library and Thode Library on November 2nd and 3rd. If you are currently employed as a TA or RA (in lieu), you will need Photo ID to cast a ballot. If you do not have an appointment until January or May, you will need proof of employment (an offer letter or equivalent).

The participation of our membership has been and continues to be crucial to the bargaining process. Do not hesitate to reach out to our President (Sarah Wahab), our Vice President (Graham Baker) or a member of our staff if you have any questions or concerns leading up to the GMM and the SGMM.

You can also visit our bargaining website at, where you can find an FAQ regarding the strike vote, as well as a more detailed bargaining bulletin.
In solidarity for a #bettermac,
Your CUPE 3906 Bargaining Team and Executive Committee

Changing your personal information on MOSAIC

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Dear Members,

Did you know? It’s important to keep your personal information up-to-date on the MOSAIC HR system for many reasons, such as receiving benefits reimbursements?  Keep your information current by visiting the following website:

Win A Gift Card! Help Build a #BetterMac: Collective Bargaining Update

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Dear Members,

Thank you for making last week’s FREE cupcake event a huge success! We received a lot of positive feedback from members who found the update and information provided there very helpful. So let’s keep the momentum going. In keeping with last week’s theme of having fun while learning, come by and test your CUPE knowledge in our fun quiz. A correct answer enters you in a draw to win a $25 Grocery Gift Card!!

Bargaining for Unit 1 to make a BetterMac for TAs, RAs and the students we teach continues. Although your bargaining team has made some significant gains at the bargaining table, there is still more work to be done—a final push to the finish line, so to speak. Make sure to stop by our table and find out what you can do ensure that we end up with a Collective Agreement that works for all of us.

The event details are as follows:

WHERE: McMaster University Student Centre – Main Floor

WHEN: Tuesday, October 25th 2016

TIME: Table from 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.

Let’s continue to work together to build a #BetterMac

We hope to see you there!

Joint Statement Regarding Unit 1 Bargaining

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

“McMaster University and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3906 Unit 1 (representing TAs and RAs in lieu working at McMaster) are currently in negotiations for a new Collective Agreement.

“The support of a Provincial Conciliation Officer from the Ministry of Labour has been requested to help facilitate a resolution; this is not an unusual process for any round of bargaining.

“The Parties will continue to meet in the interim on October 31st and November 2nd to work toward a new Collective Agreement at the Bargaining Table.”

Sarah Wahab, President, CUPE 3906

Geoff Tierney, Chief Negotiator, McMaster University

Unit 3 Agreement Ratified

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Postdoctoral Fellow (Unit 3) Members,

The ballots for the Unit 3 Collective Agreement Ratification vote have been counted.
The membership has had the opportunity to vote and the majority of voting members voted in favour of ratifying the Tentative Agreement.
The Agreement will take effect if the Employer votes to ratify the Agreement according to its processes. Once this process is complete, the Agreement will be made available on the Union’s website. In the meantime, we have draft copies available for your perusal in the CUPE Office (KTH B111).
On behalf of your elected representatives on the Executive Committee, we would like to thank you for your ongoing participation and support in the process.  The Agreement would not have been possible without it!
In solidarity,
Sarah Wahab, CUPE 3906 President
Graham Baker, CUPE 3906 Vice-President

#BetterMac article in the Silhouette

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The Silhouette (campus newspaper at McMasterU) sat down with President Sarah Wahab and Vice President Graham Baker to explore the #BetterMac campaign. It means job security, mental health support, and so much more. The full story is here.

An important excerpt:

Sarah Wahab, president of CUPE 3906, clarified the conflation between mental illness and financial pressure. “It’s precarious work… Poverty can definitely amplify mental illness. So we think it is very important they have access to [mental health care]… So that’s something that was specifically mentioned in the survey: mental health care. #bettermac is trying to make a space that we already care deeply about, better. We love McMaster– we want to make it a better space for everyone to work.”