McMaster Teaching and Research Assistants vote “yes” to ensure high-quality academic jobs on campus

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Teaching assistants (TAs) and research assistants in lieu (RAs) at McMaster University stand united in their fight to ensure high-quality academic jobs for over twenty-five hundred student academic workers.

In a historic strike vote held earlier this week, 90% of TAs and RAs voted “yes” to send a strong message to the university’s administration. TAs and RAs are demanding that McMaster table a fair and reasonable offer to protect students from tuition increases, address their concerns about the rising cost of living in Hamilton and a lack of work opportunities for graduate students, and to end inequitable wages between undergraduate and graduate TAs.

“Academic workers at McMaster are demanding better,” said Chris Fairweather, president of CUPE Local 3906. “The status quo of limited job security and inadequate wages is no longer sustainable for our members, especially when any wage increases can be clawed back by tuition hikes.” TAs and RAs at McMaster – nearly all of whom are students and pay tuition to McMaster – are facing once-in-a-generation inflation and raising house costs in Hamilton, yet wages and funding packages remain stagnant, inequitable, and unable to support student workers for the duration of their studies.

Your elected bargaining team is calling on the administration at McMaster to table a proposal that offers protection against future tuition increases, recognizes the job insecurity faced by graduate student-workers, and ends a significant wage discrepancy between undergraduate and graduate teaching.

“Not only are the proposals we have tabled around protections against tuition increases and extended work guarantees for graduate students reasonable and well within McMaster’s means, they also exist at many other comparable universities in Ontario” added Fairweather.

CUPE 3906 is seeking protections against future tuition increases in the form of a reimbursement, like those at the University of Ottawa and Carleton, and extended work guarantees for graduate students, similar to those that exist at the University of Toronto, York, and Carleton.

“With this strike vote, our members are overwhelmingly clear: we will not accept a contract that is more of the same and which fails to recognize the growing challenges and realities we face in simply getting by. We demand better of McMaster,” Fairweather explained.

A positive strike vote does not mean that TAs and RAs are on strike, nor does it set a date for a strike. It authorizes the bargaining team to call a strike in the event that talks break down at the bargaining table and after a provincial “no board” report has been issued. Further updates will be sent to your McMaster email accounts.

Quick Facts:

  • Since 2016, McMaster University’s yearly consolidated surpluses have totalled over $730 million
  • Despite representing roughly 1/3rd of McMaster’s total workforce, TA wages make-up just 3.7% of McMaster’s total payroll
  • While the average yearly rent in Hamilton has gone up $4,572 since 2019, the maximum yearly gross pay for graduate student TAs/RAs in lieu at McMaster has increased by only $575.87
  • Doug Ford’s Bill 124 capped wage increases for TAs/RAs to 1% per year for 3 years starting in 2019. Had these wages kept pace with inflation during that time, TAs/RAs in lieu would be earning $5/hour more than they are today
  • The wage gap between undergraduate and graduate TAs is nearly $19 per hour, despite both groups performing equivalent work
  • CUPE 3906, Unit 1 represents over 2500 TAs and RAs (in lieu) per year – nearly all of whom are students

For more information, please contact:

Chris Fairweather, President, CUPE 3906 – president@cupe3906.org

Mary Ellen Campbell, Chief Negotiator, CUPE 3906 – mary@cupe3906.org

Off-Campus Office Will Open Tuesday, August 2, 2022

presidentUncategorized

In March 2020, we made the decision to close our campus office in KTH to protect one another from Covid-19. After several years of online meetings, preparations are underway for a return to more in person union activity. In an effort to restore more face-to-face connections between members of the union and its officers and staff in an environment we can control, CUPE 3906 has secured off-campus office space.

Beginning on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, 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.

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

The Inspiring International Student of the Year Award Program (2022-2023)

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Overview:

The Inspiring International Student of the Year Award Program is implemented and overseen by CUPE 3906 and shall be given to international students who made notable, outstanding efforts to build the McMaster community.

 Value

Two awards are available each worth $300.

 Eligibility:

Any international student. This award is won only once.

 Application package

The application consists of three documents (in pdf format):

1-    Up to 500-700-word personal statement addressing the three points mentioned in the evaluation criteria below.

2-    A one-page nomination letter from a McMaster student, faculty or employer. The letter must be signed and includes the contact details of the nominator.

3-    A one-page reference letter from a McMaster faculty or employer. The letter must be signed and includes the contact details of the referee.

Note: Please make sure that each of the three files is named as follows: name of the document_your last name, (e.g., Personal Statement_Adam)

 Evaluation criteria:

The applications will be assessed and given scores based on three elements:

  1. Impactfulness,
  2. Initiative for the betterment,
  3. Spirit generosity.

 Review process:

Applications are reviewed by the Award Review Committee that consists of non-applicant members from the International Committee and external reviewers from other organizations on campus. The International Officer oversees the review process, yet is not a reviewer to minimize bias.

 Deadline:

Applications open on November 15th, 2022, and close on December 22nd, 2022

 Results:

Results to be announced on February 15th, 2023.

 Submission portal

Please submit your application here (https://forms.office.com/r/YUSMHsqviT)

 General guidelines:

1. Please note that the failure to comply to the above format will lead to the exclusion of your application.

2. Please note that the disclosure of any incorrect or misleading information will lead to the denial of your application and may affect your ability to apply to any award programs at McMaster.

 For any question:

Please contact the International Officer, Sarah Elshahat at international@cupe3906.org

Update re/ Ratification of New Unit 2 Collective Agreement

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Sessionals,

On October 27th, the University’s Board of Governors formally ratified the new CUPE Unit 2 Collective Agreement (the agreement that you ratified in July). As such, the new Collective Agreement is in full force and effect – a tentative draft version can be found here. The Union will have hard copies printed soon for members who need one.

On the next pay period (November 18th), each Sessional who is currently being paid at the previous base rate ($7630.55) will see a one-time payment of $153.38 per 3.0 unit course taught on their pay stub. This accounts for the negotiated wage increase through to the end of the semester, but your bi-weekly pay will remain the same through to the end of the semester. New contracts beginning in January will see no less than current base rate of $7783.93 paid out over 8 equal payments. For those of you teaching a 6.0 course, the one-time payment of the wage increase will be pro-rated accordingly. Effective September 1, 2023, the base rate will increase by 3.5% to $8056.37 per 3.0 unit course.

As part of the ratification process, Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty will see a one-time payment representing the difference between hours paid at current rate compared to new rate (paid November 18th). Going forward, the new hourly rate will be applied for the balance of the term. We expected that Sessionals employed in MELD will also see a one-time increase representing the difference between hours paid at current rate compared to the new hourly new rate, though we are finalizing the remaining details. Going forward, the new hourly rate will be applied for the balance of the term.

The new Collective Agreement also contains important increases to the Health Care Spending Account (increased from $93,000 per year to $166,000 this year and up to $180,000 next year) and the Family Dental Supplement (increased from $10,000 per year to over $37,000 this year and up to over $41,000 next year). The benefits committee will examine any further potential changes to individual entitlements. The new agreement also contains increases to the dental fund and the professional development fund.

Resulting from these increases, our benefits committee recently announced an increase to the Health Spending Account (up to $500 per year at 100% reimbursement). We also recently announced an expansion to the Professional Development Fund to allow the submission of various technological items.

Your bargaining committee also won a supplemental benefits fund ($7,000 this year, increasing to $10,000 next year) that the Benefits Committee will earmark for a Gender Affirmation Fund, similar to what we previously secured for TAs and RAs in Unit 1. Further details are still being developed.

Finally, the new Collective Agreement also contains a $42,000 supplementary fund to be used for various benefits purposes. Your benefits committee will be meeting to determine how to best allocate this money based on the needs of our membership.

The benefits committee plays an important role in determining entitlement for all of our benefits and adjudicating various applications, such as Professional Development. The committee normally meets once every 4-6 weeks for between 1 and 2 hours. The time commitment is limited, all meetings are virtual or hybrid. We are always looking for new and diverse voices to join the committee. Please email beneifts@cupe3906.org if you would like to join or have questions about participating.

In solidarity,

Your CUPE Unit 2 bargaining committee

CUPE 3906 Support OSBCU Education Workers

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Since the summer, members of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) have been in bargaining with the provincial government. The union, which belongs to 55,000 workers at primary and secondary schools and school boards across Ontario, has been fighting for a collective agreement that delivers some semblance of economic justice for severely underpaid educational workers, many of whom earn just $39,000 a year.

The OSBCU is also fighting for a collective agreement that ensures safer, healthier, and more effective public schools by committing the government to hire more educational workers, adequately staff school libraries, guarantee healthier cleaning standards, and tackle maintenance backlogs. To back these demands, OSBCU members voted 96.5% in favour of strike action.

Rather than bargain in good faith with these essential workers, many of whom have made profound sacrifices to keep our schools running throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Ford Government has tabled legislation to override their constitutionally protected right to strike and impose a four-year collective agreement. By invoking the “Notwithstanding Clause” the government is also attempting to shield its legislation from judicial review, because it knows what it’s doing is otherwise unconstitutional.

This legislation is an assault not just on the OSBCU members who are seeing their constitutional rights trampled, but on every single worker in the province. There is no reason to believe that the legislation applies to us, but this move signals that the Ontario Government has no respect for the right to strike and bargaining collectively.

In response, CUPE and a number of other labour organizations across the province will be supporting OSBCU members at picket lines and demonstrations tomorrow, November 4th. We are strongly encouraging all CUPE 3906 members to participate and show support.

Some CUPE 3906 members will be participating in the picket line at MPP Neil Lumsden’s constituency office tomorrow morning between 8:30 and 10:30am. His office is located at 115 Hwy 8 in Stoney Creek, and is accessible by bus. If you’re interested in joining, please let us know. We may be able to arrange transportation (so if you have a car and are willing to drive a few people, please also let us know!).

There will also be demonstrations happening from 8-4 tomorrow at Limeridge Mall and Eastgate Square. If you live outside of Hamilton but would like to attend a picket line or demonstration near you, you can used OSBCU’s picket line finder by punching in your postal code at www.cupe.on.ca/dontbeabully.

If you plan to attend a picket line, please consider printing out a sign to bring with you, in colour if you can. If you get any pictures of yourself on a picket line with a sign, feel free to share it on social media and tag us in your post!

Click here to download a sign.

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

 

Solidarity with CUPE School Board Workers!

presidentUncategorized

Since the summer, members of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) have been in bargaining with the provincial government. The union, which belongs to 55,000 workers at primary and secondary schools and school boards across Ontario, has been fighting for a collective agreement that delivers some semblance of economic justice for severely underpaid educational workers, many of whom earn just $39,000 a year.

The union is also fighting for a collective agreement that ensures safer, healthier, and more effective public schools by committing the government to hire more educational workers, adequately staff school libraries, guarantee healthier cleaning standards, and tackle maintenance backlogs. To back these demands, OSBCU members voted 96.5% in favour of strike action.

Rather than bargain in good faith with these essential workers, many of whom have made profound sacrifices to keep our schools running throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Ford Government has tabled legislation to override their constitutionally protected right to strike and impose a four-year collective agreement. By invoking the “Notwithstanding Clause” the government is also attempting to shield its legislation from judicial review, because it knows what it’s doing is otherwise unconstitutional.

This legislation is an assault not just on the OSBCU members who are seeing their constitutional rights trampled, but on every single worker in the province. The right to come together in a union and bargain collectively is meaningless without the right to back your bargaining with a strike. The entire labour movement must come together in opposition. The right to strike wasn’t won in the courts, it was won on the picket lines. We must defend it there as well.

OSBCU has already announced that some form of job action will happen as scheduled on Friday, November 4th, whether or not there is legislation that purports to ban it. When this happens, CUPE 3906 members will be there in support, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with education workers and anyone else who stands up for workers’ rights, for better schools, and for a better world for all of us.

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

CUPE 3906 Temporary Office Access Notice

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Please note that there is ongoing construction outside of the front of our temporary office at 1046 King Street West in Hamilton.  Our temporary office is open for regular office hours during the construction, although accessibility has been impacted due to the removal of parts of the sidewalk.

Please note that members can still get in touch with us via email, and benefits claims and applications can still be submitted via email.

Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Adjusting Hours of Work Forms

Brad WalchukUncategorized

DID YOU KNOW?  Adjusting hours of work!
Are you finding that you are working more than your assigned hours, you are having trouble meeting deadlines, or you have a major academic deadline that conflicts with your TA deadline?
You can request adjustments to your hours of work!  Article 12.04 (below) outlines the process for requesting adjustments to your hours of work.  You have the right to request adjustments in several circumstances.  Please feel free to reach out to the Union if you have questions about this process, or require some assistance with it.  The specific language in our Collective Agreement is:
12.04 Hours of Work Adjustments/Additional Hours of Work 
(a) If, at any time during an assignment, either the employee or Employment Supervisor wishes to amend the allocation or number of hours on the Hours of Work Form, either party may request and will be granted a meeting for this purpose within 5 business days.  
(b) As soon as an employee has a reasonable belief that they will be unable to perform the duties of the position within the hours specified, they shall request and will be granted a meeting with their Employment Supervisor within 5 business days. 
(c) Any changes to the employee’s assignment will be attached to the Hours of Work form and such revisions will be initialed by both parties. A copy of the revised form will be retained by the Department and forwarded to the Union. 
(d) If the matter is not resolved to the employee’s satisfaction, they may then meet with their Employment Supervisor and Department Chair (or their delegate) or their Department for a final determination. If the employee chooses to have a Union Representative present at such a meeting, any subsequent grievance would be filed at Step 2 of the grievance procedure as outlined in Article 10. 
(e) Unless the Steps provided for in 12.04 have been followed, and written permission received, no employee shall be requested or permitted to perform work beyond their originally allocated hours.  
(f) If an employee accepts a request to work additional hours, the employee will be paid in accordance with Schedule “A”.  
(g) The Employer shall offer assistance and provide a supportive environment to its Employees experiencing domestic violence, including accommodating a leave(s) of absence, adjustment of work schedules, giving consideration in the situation of discipline or other supportive responses as may be appropriate in the circumstances. In all responses to domestic violence, the Parties shall respect employees’ confidentiality. 
(h) Where an employee is experiencing difficulty meeting their employment obligations, for reasons of language or otherwise, they are encouraged to speak with their Employment Supervisor.

Unit 2 Professional Development Fund and Tech Items- Reconsideration

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Following the recent changes to the Unit 2 Professional Development Fund, the Benefits Committee voted to retroactively consider certain expenses that were previously ineligible for reimbursement under the previous PDF guidelines. Until November 10th 2022, all Unit 2 members that taught during the 2021-2022 academic year may submit claims for tech and software items that are now included under the NEW 2022-2023 guidelines, but which were previously excluded this past academic year.
 
To clarify, this applies ONLY to previously ineligible tech and software items, the committee will NOT be reviewing any non-tech or software expenses from the 2021-2022 academic year.
 
In order to be considered members must have otherwise been eligible (had money left under the fund at the end of 2021-22) and have taught during the 2021-2022 academic year. To apply please submit a completed tech-specific PDF application found here and relevant receipts to Benefits@cupe3906.org
 
Please note, all applications are still subject to approval by the committee. 
 
As always, members can continue to submit applications for the 2022-2023 year. More information about the fund is available here: https://cupe3906.org/sessionals-unit-2/professional-development-fund-unit-2/ 
 
If you have any questions regarding eligibility or the resubmission process please reach out to Kyle Morrison at Benefits@cupe3906.org

Solidarity with Striking Academic Workers at Dalhousie!

presidentUncategorized

This morning, Teaching Assistants, Markers, Demonstrators, and Part-Time Academics at Dalhousie University in Halifax began strike action in pursuit of a fair collective agreement. While workers at Dalhousie have been facing staggering increases in the cost of living, their university’s wage proposals promise only to put them further behind.

All across the country, public universities and colleges have fallen increasingly under the control of lawyers and corporate executives whose only goal is to generate profits and create student debt for the big banks at the expense of students, workers, and the communities post-secondary education is meant to serve. In some cases, universities are generating hundreds of millions of dollars in profits each year while putting very little back into their communities. In others, reckless governance of this kind is putting universities at risk, as we recently saw with the catastrophic mismanagement and subsequent insolvency of Laurentian University in Sudbury.

As part of their relentless pursuit of profit, universities are increasingly exploiting the labour of precariously-employed academic workers. Rather than creating more full-time, tenure-track positions and other secure, fair-paying academic jobs, our universities are becoming job insecurity machines. This undermines not just our quality of living, but with it, the quality of the research and teaching our universities can produce. Academic workers, our students, and the communities that depend on us deserve better.

As Teaching Assistants at McMaster take their own strike vote over so many of the same issues, the CUPE 3906 Executive Committee stands in solidarity with CUPE 3912 and everyone else fighting for better post-secondary education across the country. We encourage members of CUPE 3906 to share their support for CUPE 3912. We call on academic unions and workers across the country to do the same. We join the growing chorus of groups demanding that Dalhousie return to the table and offer these vital workers a fair contract. In support of their struggle, we have also authorized a $500 contribution to the CUPE 3912 Strike Fund.

Your fight is our fight, and together, we will win!

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee