Dear fellow academic workers at McMaster,
My name is Maxwell Lightstone, and I would like to nominate myself to serve as your Benefits and Advocacy officer. During my time with the Union I have served as a Steward and as a member of the Bylaws and Finance committees. I am proud to be a member of this local and to work with it to bring the best experience possible to our community.
If elected as your Benefits and Advocacy Officer, I will:
- Proactively work with Departmental Stewards to share Benefits information both ways
Our collective agreement gives us certain benefits (Health Spending Account, Gender Affirmation Fund, ect), and we have other benefits as employees of McMaster. I will work proactively with Departmental Stewards to make sure that they have the information they need to advise their colleagues, and also feel comfortable bringing back any issues they run into. One recent example is key deposits for work obligations, where some members were told that since their department hadn’t generated an account code yet, those members would have to pay for their own keys. By making sure those Steward relationships are in place early, issues like that can be addressed effectively.
- Invest surpluses back into our membership
Our local has been fortunate to have surpluses over the past few years, including in our benefits budgets. I will work with the Benefits committee and any interested members to see what that money could be used for in a sustainable, long term way that increases the benefits our members can access and reaches underserved communities.I also intend to work with our Equity Officer to ensure that any searches or consultation campaigns are done within an equitable and inclusive framework.
- Advocate with an eye towards the future
Our members in Unit 2 and Unit 3 are often working towards tenure track positions in academia, and joining their faculties as Professors. Unfortunately, currently there is no way to opt in to the University’s Pension Plan, despite the years of work put in at McMaster. I will start the conversation around pension plan access with stakeholders in Units 2 and 3, and with a communally appropriate plan begin laying the groundwork for this to become a reality in the future. For the future to happen, we must begin now.
I will also work to make sure that everyone who qualifies as a Union member under the collective agreement is considered on with all the benefits that entails. Currently, full time contracted Research Assistants who are not enrolled as graduate students are not considered CUPE or UNIFOR members, and as such lack all the benefits that go along with Union membership, from workplace support to Dental insurance. I will work with these Research Assistants to ensure that they are counted if they should be, or have the opportunity to organize and join the Union.