Supplementary COVID-19 Related Resources for Sessionals and Postdocs

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Please see below for some more insights and resources that have been made available over the past few days.
Topics include:1. Alternate Duties and Your Right to (Paid) Applicable Training
2. Advice Regarding Online Courses, from an Experienced Online Instructor
3. Useful “FAQ” Link from Employee/Labour Relations
4. In-Person Office Hours
5. General Concerns


Department Heads and Supervisors are in the process of assessing and delivering information for the transition to online teaching and for any duties that might not require members to be at the University/allow members to work from home.  You should have already received communication about this, or will very shortly.  If you have not received information, or have questions about your duties, we encourage you to speak to your supervisor right away.

As President Farrar has alluded in a recent letter to the McMaster Community, supervisors should be encouraging members of the campus community to stay home wherever possible. If you have ideas about how your work can be completed from home, feel free to bring them up to your supervisor.  Please see point 5 (below) if you have concerns about what you are being asked to do.

Per Article 19.03 of your Collective Agreement, if you are asked to conduct alternative duties involving online or technological resources,  you must be provided with training on any systems with which you are not already familiar. Please make a request for training with your supervisor if are not familiar with the technologies you are being asked to use.


In relation to the above, Dr. Rebecca Barrett-Fox recently wrote a compelling essay entitled, “Please do a bad job of putting your courses online.” Contentious title aside, we would encourage all instructors who have elected to move their courses online to read the article in full. It is important to remember that neither you nor your students signed up for an online course, and the emergency circumstances of an ongoing pandemic will likely be made all the more challenging through sudden shifts in teaching modalities. Whatever you decide, we hope that it allows for you and your students to be well – both physically and mentally.


The Employer has provided a useful “Frequently Asked Questions” style link for CUPE 3906 members:

If you have questions that are not addressed by this link, please do not hesitate to contact us (see: point 5).


For those who teach, we do not believe it is reasonable to expect in-person office hours to be performed. This unnecessarily exposes both yourself and students to unneeded public contact and potential COVID-19 exposure. Such a demand is also not inclusive for workers and students with compromised immune systems. The employer has sent an advisory to all Chairs, Directors, and Deans urging flexible work arrangements and work-from-home options where appropriate. The most recent letter from McMaster’s president also states that supervisors should allow employees to work from home whenever possible.  Electronic office hours are a much safer option in the present instance. If your supervisor is requesting or demanding in-person office hours, please feel free to express your concerns directly to them, your chair, or the Union.


If you have concerns about the work you are asked to perform, or if you face barriers to performing the work you are asked to perform, it is best to bring them up with your supervisor as soon as possible. You can also contact the Union with any concerns ( or

Please note that individual arrangements may vary from department-to-department and course-to-course.  If you have an inquiry that is specific to you, please don’t hesitate to follow up with your supervisor and/or the Union.