CUPE 3906 OFFICE Information January 2023

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Please note that we are still located at our off-campus office (1046 King Street West, Hamilton ON) until further notice.  (Our KTH office is still temporarily closed.)

The off-campus office at 1046 King St W will be open during the following hours: 10am-4pm, Monday-Thursday. These hours are subject to change.

Until further advised, masks will be mandatory for those visiting the office.

Members who are not comfortable or who cannot safely visit the office are encouraged to continue to contact the union over email. We will continue to meet with members virtually as necessary. If you need to connect with us virtually to submit benefits claims, file a grievance, or any other union business, instructions for doing so can be found here.

We will provide members with further notice if and when our office location changes.  Thank you!

Did you know? TA pay can NOT impact your scholarship

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Wages have increased under our most recent collective agreement, but that does not mean that your scholarship can be reduced. The university cannot offset TA wage increases by reducing your scholarship.

Specifically, Article 16.04  of our collective agreement states the following: The parties recognize and acknowledge the distinct and separate nature of academic financial support that the Employer provides to graduate students on the one hand, and the entitlement o employment income in accordance with the terms of this Collective Agreement on the other hand. As such, the Employer agrees that an employee’s entitlement to the wages set out in Schedule “A” of this Collective Agreement will not result in a reduction of, or offset against, the academic financial support promised by the University to a graduate student. 

In short, TA wages and student-based scholarships/bursaries/top ups are completely separate from one another, and an increase to your wages cannot mean a loss of scholarship money.

Similarly, if you apply for an additional TAship and receive it, your department cannot reduce your scholarship entitlement as a result of this additional, unexpected work. We have been made aware of this happening, and if you see any reduction in your scholarship and believe it is linked to you getting an additional TAship or to an increase in your hourly wage, please contact us immediately and we can help to sort things out for you.

Increase in TA/RA Health Care Spending Account – now expanded to $350 per 24 month period

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Collective Bargaining works!!! Under the newly ratified Unit 1 collective agreement, we were able to bargain additional money for our Health Care Spending Account. The Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) enables members to claim a wide range of medical, dental and pharmaceutical expenses not covered (or inadequately covered) by OHIP, UHIP and student extended health plans administered by the GSA and MSU. Previously the maximum entitlement was $250 per twenty-four month period. We are pleased to announce that we have expanded the Health Care Spending Account to provide $350 per twenty-four month period. This expanded entitlement takes effect immediately and is retroactive back to September 1, 2022.

If you have yet to submit a claim, you will have the full $350 available. If you have submitted a claim for less than $250 since September 1, 2022, the expanded fund will cover the additional cost to a maximum of $350 in total claims. Please note that your access to this benefit will expire after August 31, 2023, unless you return as a Unit 1 member in the 2023-2024 academic year.  Reimbursements cannot be made for expenses incurred prior to September 1, 2022.

For those who have already made a claim since September 1, 2022, please email claims@prosure-group.com to receive the additional entitlement for eligible expenses. All other members should make claims as normal following the instructions on our website.

Please note, this fund costs you nothing and there are not deductibles or premiums associated with the HCSA. More details about the HCSA, including an application form, are available here: https://cupe3906.org/tas-unit-1/unit-1-benefits/

If you have questions about the fund please email Benefits@cupe3906.org

If you have questions about the whether an expense is covered under the HSCA please e-mail administrator@cupe3906.org.

Statement of Solidarity with Striking Academic Workers in Atlantic Canada

presidentUncategorized

The Executive Committee of CUPE 3906, representing 3,000 Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants (in lieu), Sessional Faculty, and Postdoctoral Fellows at McMaster University, stands in full support of striking faculty at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia and Memorial University in Newfoundland. After strikes in the fall by Teaching Assistants at Dalhousie University and here at McMaster, these strikes represent a growing movement of academic workers pushing back against the increasingly corporate, neoliberal governance of our institutions. 

We know that the decision to call a strike, especially during a cold Atlantic winter, is not one taken lightly. No one does it out of greed. We do it when we have no other choice. University governance is increasingly being ceded to lawyers and human resources professionals with little to no understanding of how public education and research work, or of the profound importance they have in society. 

Precious resources are being diverted away from supporting the workers who make universities function, and being allocated instead to supporting administrative bloat. Not only do the workers suffer, especially in the context of a once-in-a-generation cost of living crisis, but the students suffer as well. This especially true in Atlantic Canada, where the cost of tuition is rising rapidly, and yet workers are being left literally out in the cold.

We also wish to express our solidarity and support for CUPE 4600 Teaching Assistants and Contract Instructors, whose members will being undertaking a strike vote tomorrow, and the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union, who have set a strike deadline of February 24th. As many of our colleagues at universities across Ontario and the country prepare for their own rounds of bargaining and possible strikes, we hope administrations are taking notice of how serious this situation is. It’s time to restore true collegial governance, return dignity and respect to collective bargaining, and give academic workers the tools we need to do the job that students and our communities deserve, including fair pay and working conditions.

In support of these ongoing struggles, we have authorized a $500 contribution to the strike funds of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association, and the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union. United, we will win!

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

Snow Storm – Unplanned Leave Provisions for Sessionals

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Sessionals, as you know, there is a severe snowstorm outside in the Hamilton area which has made visibility and road conditions terrible. As of 4:00 pm, McMaster has not yet cancelled classes, and their twitter indicated that “a winter storm is expected to cause heavy snowfall” and that they “will continue to provide updates.” If they looked out the window, they would see that the winter storm has already caused heavy snowfall and has made commuting dangerous. If you feel that the roads are dangerous and you are uncomfortable with commuting to campus, please review the unplanned leave provisions from your collective agreement (below):
18.01 Unplanned Leave
(a)(i) In the event that an employee requires an unplanned leave it is the responsibility of the employee to both advise their Supervisor and to make up for any missed class and lost time that was missed. When making up the class(es) is a practical impossibility, an alternate arrangement, approved by the Supervisor, will be made. An unplanned leave is without loss of pay, subject to Articles 18.01 (b), (c), (d) and (e). Unplanned leaves may include, but are not limited to; sickness leave; bereavement leave; court leave; jury leave; family responsibility leave; domestic violence leave, and any exigent circumstances preventing access to classrooms.
A snowstorm such as today‘s is certainly something your union views as an exigent circumstance that prevents access to your classroom. If you believe the road conditions to be unsafe, you will need to inform your supervisor and you should let your class know as well. There are various ways to make up the time, but we encourage you to consider your safety (and that of your students) if you have class this evening.
Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

CUPE 3906 is proud to endorse Sarah Jama for MPP in the upcoming Hamilton-Centre byelection

presidentUncategorized

At the November General Membership Meeting, the union voted to endorse Sarah Jama for MPP in the upcoming Hamilton-Centre byelection. Our union doesn’t often offer endorsements to political candidates, but many of us know from firsthand experience that Sarah is an incredible force for good in our community. We need fearless leadership and representation now more than ever, and Sarah’s candidacy is a breath of fresh air that cuts through the cynicism so many of us feel about party politics. Sarah will make an excellent MPP and we’re excited to do what we can to support her.

For more information about Sarah’s campaign and to find ways to get involved, visit https://www.sarahjama.ca/.

Working Groups and Committee Updates – Winter 2023

Brad WalchukUncategorized

At the upcoming GMM we will be discussing new and existing working groups and committees that you can join to become more involved in the union. This includes:

NEW – Raise the Floor Working Group
The Raise the Floor Working Group aims to continue to push McMaster to elevate the existing funding floor for graduate students at McMaster. You can learn more about raise the floor campaign here.

Full-time graduate students at McMaster need your help. We need to come together as a community—whether you’re a student, a member of the faculty, or university staff—and call on McMaster’s Graduate Council to Raise the Floor! To get involved email: raisetheflooratmac@gmail.com 

Communications Committee
The Communications Committee designs and circulates information about CUPE3906 to the general membership and broader McMaster community. Currently, the committee is working on CUPE3906 FM , a podcast series about our union (found on Spotify).

This term the Communications Committee will meet on Thursdays, from 1:30pm to 2:30pm, and will take place on the following dates (roughly every other week):

  • January 26
  • February 9
  • March 2
  • March 16
  • March 30
  • April 13

If you would like to join the communications committee please contact: comms@cupe3906.org

Women’s Committee
The first Women’s Committee meeting of 2023 is scheduled for this Friday, January 20 @1pm on Zoom. In this meeting we will be reframing the objectives for this committee to be more inclusive and discussing the upcoming CUPE women’s conference.

If you would like to join this committee please contact: vicepresident@cupe3906.org

Upcoming GMM – Wednesday Jan 18 @ 1pm on Zoom

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We will host our first GMM of the Winter semester on January 18th at 1pm. The meeting will take place online over Zoom.

We have some important business to take care of, including elections to fill the following positions: Recording Secretary, Chief Steward Unit 1 (TAs/RAs), CUPE Ontario Convention Delegate (8 positions), and CUPE Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee (OUWCC) Conference Delegate (5 positions).

For more information about these positions, head over to http://www.cupe3906.org/meetings

Register for the meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrdOmsqTIuHtIj1LT-TYwVyIBqkfOiNciS

Post-GMM Social at the Snooty Fox (Westdale) @4:30pm

CUPE3906 will be hosting an in-person social at the Snooty Fox after Wednesday’s General Membership Meeting, at 4:30pm.

Everyone is welcome to swing by and have a chat with us after the GMM!

Unit 2 Dental Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Sessionals,

As you may have noticed on your most recent pay cheque (December 2nd), the employer finally made the dental deduction ($170) from those who did not opt out of dental coverage. This means that coverage is now active (backdated to September 1, 2022 and until August 31, 2023) and you can submit claims to Equitable Life of Canada. The dental coverage provides 100% reimbursement on many procedures and offers up to $1000 in coverage for eligible expenses for each of 2022 and 2023. The amount does not carryover from year to year.

If you have received or underwent any dental procedures between September 1, 2022 and now, you can go ahead and submit these claims. If you have been waiting until your insurance is active to go to the dentist, you can go now and we encourage you to use your remaining 2022 entitlement and get to the dentist before December 31st. You can find more details about coverage, entitlement, and eligibility here: https://cupe3906.org/sessionals-unit-2/unit-2-dental-coverage/

Please note that some dentists may have you pay up front and will submit on your behalf, while others may make you submit directly to Equitable Life. Policies vary from dentist to dentist, and, whenever possible, we recommend your dentist getting you a pre-approval in advance.

Sincerely,

CUPE Benefits Committee

Hardship Fund for Unit 1 Members Participating in the Strike

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Our Union has established a hardship fund for striking Unit 1 members (TAs and RAs in lieu). The purpose of the fund is to assist those people experiencing significant financial hardship because of the strike.
To apply, you must be participating in the strike. Everyone will experience short-term financial implications of being on strike, but not everyone will experience hardship. Some of the criteria of experiencing financial hardship because of the strike include things such as being likely to miss a rent payment, having to skipping groceries, etc.
The CUPE Local 3906 strike committee administers this fund, and all applications will be kept strictly confidential.

Under the fund, you can apply for a maximum of $300 for individuals or $600 for people with dependents. Please note that not all applications will be approved, and those which are approved may not be approved for the full amount. This fund covers over 2,600 striking workers and is available only as funds permit.

To apply, please visit https://zfrmz.com/igwkfzjJYzNQticQXRpA