COVID-19 Resources & Information

presidentUncategorized

For CUPE 3906 Members

Union Business (Office Closure / Benefits claims, etc.)

UNIT 1 (TA/RA in lieu) Work

UNIT 2 (Sessional Instructor) Work

MELD Sessional Instructor Work

UNIT 3 (Postdoctoral Fellow) Work

McMaster University’s CUPE Member FAQ Page

A Compelling Essay about Putting your Courses Online

For CUPE & Non-CUPE Members

Accessing Aid & Leaves if your Income is Cut-Off / Reduced

Q & A on Income Supports Available During COVID-19 Pandemic

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) FAQ

 

Postdoctoral Support Fund- Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Your Union has a quick update on the Postdoctoral Support Fund, the application for which can be accessed here.

We’ve been told by Employee/Labour Relations to relay the following information to our members:

Effective immediately, applicants do not need to complete the Estimated Expenses and Estimated Income table in the application form. Members must submit receipts or quotes for any expenses that they are submitting for reimbursement from the fund.”

For now, the actual application form looks the same as above, but you needn’t complete the table that asks for estimated expenses and income. A new form will be made available soon, and we will send it as soon as we have it.

Please also note that in addition to one time, unexpected emergencies, we have expanded the fund to cover family UHIP costs and child care expenses.

Relatedly, if you have a child in public schools or daycare centres located in public schools, you can apply for funding from any recent strike days here.

* * *
We thank everyone for their patience as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances together. As a reminder, we have compiled a list of COVID-19-related resources specific to CUPE 3906 members here.  McMaster has also been providing frequent updates as the situation evolves, found here.

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

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

1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

The Employer has provided a useful “Frequently Asked Questions” style link for CUPE 3906 members:   https://hr.mcmaster.ca/information-for-cupe-units-at-mcmaster/

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

4.

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.

5.

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 (staff@cupe3906.org or mecampbell@cupe3906.org).

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.

MELD Sessionals COVID-19 Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear MELD Sessionals,

By now, we assume that you’re already aware of the cancellation of classes and exams, and we hope that you’ve ready our recent message sent to all sessional faculty. We’re sending this as a MELD-specific follow-up.

At this point, we’re unsure how the program plans on proceeding with the remainder of the academic year. We have reached out and are awaiting a response, and expect that many of you have done the same. It is our understanding that the MELD program will be closed like undergraduate and graduate classes.

Despite working on an hourly-rated model, we do not foresee the closure of classes to adversely impact you or your access to income. The decision to cancel classes was the employer’s – not yours. As such, we do not believe that the employer is in a position to withhold pay from you. While missed work normally has to be made up within five business days in order to get paid, this is because of changes to the unplanned leave provisions. Unplanned leave is initiated by an employee, not by the employer. The current situation is not one in which you’re unable to attend work and perform the related duties, but rather, one in which the employer has elected to close classes. The unplanned leave and make-up provisions do not apply in this situation.

Unfortunately, it remains unclear what the next steps are for MELD classes, and we will update you as soon as we have some additional clarity. There are various ways to provide make-up learning opportunities for students. We know that you are willing and able to work, and at this juncture, that is all that matters.

We have been informed that there is a joint cc/dd meeting on Monday at 12:30. We advise you all to attend via Zoom rather than travelling to campus.

If you have any additional questions, please let us know.

Unit 3 COVID-19 Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Postdocs,

By now, you’re likely aware of McMaster’s decision to cancel classes. Specifically, McMaster has determined that all in-person classes for undergraduate and graduate students will end at the end of the day Friday March 13th and that no in-person exams will be held at the end of this term. We applaud McMaster for the decision to put the safety of students and staff at the forefront.

Please note, however, that while classes are cancelled, the university is otherwise opened. Paradoxically, the Employer expects non-teaching staff to continue to attend work.

Your safety is our first priority. We recommend you make personal decisions that are consistent with your sense of well-being and current health. Please note that your Collective Agreement affords you “10 paid business days per appointment year, or a pro-rated portion equivalent thereof for any portion of an employee’s appointment that is less than 12 months and for employees holding partial appointments.” For clarity, please be advised that “Such days are to be utilized for absences due to personal illness or injury. When an employee utilizes such day(s) they must include such days on the weekly hours of work report given to their Department Administrator. There will be no carry-forward of sick days from one appointment year to the next and there will be no cash payout of unused sick days.”

Please note that “in the event that an employee takes a leave of greater than 5 consecutive business days, the employment supervisor can require a doctor’s note to substantiate the employee’s absence subject to 21.03(a).” To be absolutely clear, we feel that doctor’s notes are antiquated, a burden to an overstretched and underfunded health care system, and put you in harm’s way. Of course, if (self)quarantined, they are not an option in that case. That said, “if requested, an employee must provide medical documentation supporting the absence to their employment supervisor that includes confirmation of an in-person assessment by a physician; workplace restrictions, if any; and a return to work or reassessment date. Where the requested medical documentation includes the foregoing information, the Employer will, to a maximum of $50.00, reimburse the Employee 50% of the cost of the first medical documentation requested for each period of absence due to personal illness or injury regardless of length.”

We would strongly encourage you to reach out to your supervisor to discuss the possibility of work-from-home arrangements and other amendments to your typical work.

If you feel that attending work represents a clear and imminent danger to your health, please let us know.

As it pertains to the next few weeks with public elementary schools closed, our Postdoctoral Support Fund has recently been expanded to include support for childcare. A separate email to this effect will follow in the coming days.

If you have any other questions, please let us know. Please note, however, that we have a large volume of emails and a response may be delayed. We will prioritize emergent situations. Finally, we would like to recognize that McMaster Human Resources has been in regular contact with your Union. We appreciate the transparency and information that they’ve provided to us.

Unit 2 COVID-19 Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Sessionals,

By now, you’re likely aware of McMaster’s decision to cancel classes. Specifically, McMaster has determined that all in-person classes for undergraduate and graduate students will end at the end of the day Friday March 13th and that no in-person exams will be held at the end of this term. We applaud McMaster for the decision to put the safety of students and staff at the forefront.

We are sending this email to you in your capacity as an employee. We encourage you to reach out to your Chair, Director, or Dean to confirm next steps for how you expect to finish the balance of the semester. The Employer has noted that instructors are asked “to work with their Chairs, Directors and Deans to be prepared to communicate with students by Wednesday, March 18th to let them know how the remainder of their courses will be managed and grades assessed so that they can complete their credits within the normal timeframe of the winter term. These solutions will vary from course to course.”

Online teaching is one possible option, but by no means is it required or mandatory and it may not be applicable in all classes. Article 19.04 of your Collective Agreement states that “The Employer will not, without training, require an employee to use technological skills other than those agreed to at the time of hiring.” In any situation, we strongly recommend, however, that you do not make any alternative in-person arrangements with students.

We do not foresee any loss of pay as all work should be restructured in a way that it can easily be made up. In some instances, material can be put on Avenue to Learn, but in other cases focusing on the final assignment may be more appropriate, especially if your final classes are simply provided material for a now non-existent in person examination. You know your class and your students the best; the Employer must be reasonable with your proposals and best judgement.

For Hourly Rated Sessional Music Instructors, we would recommend you check in with your supervisor. While alternative arrangements may be made, you should not be teaching after April 17th, nor should you be required to move teaching offsite. In the event that work cannot be reasonably be made up, you should not experience a reduction in income. Please let us know if something to the contrary is suggested.

A separate post will be forthcoming for MELD Sessionals.

For those of you with TAs, you are likely to reallocate many of their remaining tasks. In some instances, tasks may be cancelled altogether. Normally, any changes to TA duties require a signed amendment to their Hours of Work forms; given these exceptional circumstances, we recognize this may not be feasible. In any situation in which TA expectations are changed from the original Hours of Work form, you should endeavor to provide them with clear instructions (written is preferred). TAs will be encouraged to log their hours. In no situation can TAs pay be reduced, even if work expectations are. Likewise, you cannot assign additional hours without the approval of your Chair or Director.

If your Chair or Director instructs you to restructure work in a way that you feel is not reasonable, please let us know. If you feel additional hours are required in light of the circumstances, please let us know. Under no circumstance should you be expected to perform any additional work over what you were originally allocated without proper compensation. Finally, you must be paid for any tasks that you are no longer expected to do. The cancellation of classes should not lead to any loss of income.

Article 18.01 of your Collective Agreement provides you with unplanned leave, which may be necessary depending upon your personal and familial circumstance. The agreement notes that “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.”

Please note that each course – and perhaps even each section of a course – is likely to be different. We recognize that a one-size-fits-all solution is not possible in such a situation.

If you have any other questions, please let us know. Please note, however, that we have a large volume of emails and a response may be delayed. We will prioritize emergent situations. We would like recognize that McMaster Human Resources has been in regular contact with your Union. We appreciate the transparency and information that they’ve provided to us.

Finally, please make use of the Employee Family Assistance Program if you are experiencing additional stress, anxiety, or any issues related to your mental health. A flyer outlining the program can be found here. You can access the program directly by visiting https://homeweb.ca/.

Unit 1 COVID-19 Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

By now, you’re likely aware of McMaster’s decision to cancel classes. Specifically, McMaster has determined that all in-person classes for undergraduate and graduate students will end at the end of day Friday March 13th and that no in-person exams will be held at the end of this term. We applaud McMaster for the decision to put the safety of students and staff at the forefront.

We are sending this email to you in your capacity as an employee. Decisions around your responsibilities as a student will come from your department chair or graduate chair. We encourage you to reach out to the instructor of the course to which you are assigned to determine next steps and expectations for your role in the remainder of the semester. We do not foresee any loss of pay as all work should be restructured in a way that it can easily be made up. If it is restructured in a way that you feel it cannot be made up, please let us know.

Normally, any changes to your existing responsibilities must be accompanied by a revised Hours of Work form from your supervisor to be signed by you. Work cannot be unilaterally changed by your supervisor. Given that these are exceptional circumstances, the Union recognizes that completing these protocols may not be feasible. In lieu of official changes to your hours of work forms, we want to encourage members to request clear instructions (written is preferred) from their employment supervisors regarding any changes to their duties and to log their hours from now until the end of their current TA assignment. If you feel additional hours are required, please inform your supervisor. New duties should not deviate far from duties normally expected to be done by a TA. Under no circumstance should you be expected to perform any additional work over what you were originally allocated without proper compensation. Finally, you must be paid for any tasks that you are no longer expected to do. The cancellation of classes should not lead to any loss of income.

Article 19.02 of your Collective Agreement provides you with sick leave equivalent to 10 working hours per term. Please use these at your discretion and be sure to inform your supervisor if you require the usage of these days.

Article 19.01 of your Collective Agreement provides that, with the approval of the employment supervisor(s) concerned, you are able to arrange to exchange your work with or by a qualified person, for periods not to exceed 1 week, 10 days at a time, and not to exceed 3 weeks per term. If the employee cannot find a suitable replacement, the employment supervisor, upon request, will assist in finding a suitable replacement. If such an arrangement would be useful, please reach out to your supervisor.

Article 19.02.1 provides you with access to paid family medical leave in the event that this is needed. Please contact your Union if such a situation arises.

Please note that each course – and perhaps even each section of a course – is likely to be different. We recognize that a one-size-fits-all solution is not possible in such a situation.

If you have any other questions, please let us know. Please note, however, that we have a large volume of emails and a response may be delayed. We will prioritize emergent situations. We would like to recognize that McMaster Human Resources has been in regular contact with your Union. We appreciate the transparency and information that they’ve provided to us.

Finally,  please make use of the Employee Family Assistance Program if you are experiencing additional stress, anxiety, or any issues related to your mental health. A flyer outlining the program can be found here. You can access the program directly by visiting https://homeweb.ca/.

COVID-19 Update

presidentUncategorized

Dear Members,

As you may have heard, McMaster has just announced the suspension of all in-person classes effective the end of the day, March 13th.  We are currently in communication with the University to get clarity on what this means for TAs, Sessionals, and Postdocs. Members will experience NO disruptions of pay. Please watch for updates from us, McMaster, and your departments, and contact us with any questions or concerns regarding your employment (pay, alternate duties, etc.) by emailing president@cupe3906.org or staff@cupe3906.org

As for Union business, I can confirm with you now that our office will be closed, effective immediately. Below are instructions for how to submit benefits claims while the office is closed:

For Healthcare Spending Accounts, UHIP Rebates, and Childcare rebates, please continue to leave forms in our drop-box (directly outside KTH B111) or mail them directly to the Prosure Group:

PROSURE GROUP ADMINISTRATORS LTD.

2225 Sheppard Ave East, Suite 1400, Atria III.

Toronto, ON. M2J 5C2

For Dental claims, please create a login at www.equitable.ca with Policy Number 97528 and your employee number as your certificate number (if you do not have a specific employee number, then use your student number), and follow Equitable Life’s instructions for submitting online claims.

For Professional Development Fund applications, please email benefits@cupe3906.org.

For further assistance, please contact administrator@cupe3906.org or mecampbell@cupe3906.org.

Members who have arranged to pick up their menstrual cup next week will have to wait until further notice. We appreciate your patience at this time and look for to getting your menstrual cup to you in the future.

Also, our Annual General Membership meeting, which normally should be scheduled for the end of March, will be postponed. The AGM is where our executive officers are elected, meaning the election process will also be postponed. It would be irresponsible of us to request that our members gather together in these circumstances, even for something as important as executive elections. The current executives will remain (unless any need to resign, individually), to ensure the operations of the local for the time being. As soon as it is deemed safe to return to campus, we will schedule our AGM.

 

Sincerely, and In Solidarity,

Nathan Todd

President

Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3906