Unit 2 Strike Prep Bulletin- Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Sessional Faculty,

Your Bargaining Team will resume bargaining on Monday, June 13, with the help of a government-appointed mediator, in hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement to avoid a strike or lockout. As you know, the union and the university are still very far apart when it comes to a number of priorities, including fair wages, job security, retirement security, and training. Following the 85% strike mandate given to the Unit 2 Bargaining Team, strike preparations are well under way. This email contains two important updates related to strike preparations.

Strike Committee – June 17 at 1pm (Zoom)

The union has formed its Strike Committee and elected Unit 2 member, Simon Orpana, as its Chair. The next meeting will be held virtually over the Zoom platform on Friday, June 17, beginning at 1pm. At this meeting, we will pull together all of the existing strike materials as we work through CUPE’s Strike Preparation program. We will need to find volunteers to serve in various capacities on the Strike Committee, and make important decisions about picket line locations and times, approved picket duties, the location of an off-campus strike office, and so on. All Unit 2 members are encouraged to attend and participate; so long as you taught at some point in the 2021-2022 academic year or you have a contract in hand to teach next year, you have an interest in the outcome of this round of bargaining. Please email Simon at strikecochairs@cupe3906.org if you plan to attend the meeting, or if you can’t attend but want to be kept in the loop for future Strike Committee activities.

Picket Captain Training – June 30 at 1pm (In-person)

The union has organized Picket Captain Training, which will take place on June 30 from 1-4pm. This training will happen in person at the CUPE Hamilton Area Office downtown (21 King St W, Hamilton). Picket Captains are responsible for maintaining safe and effective picket lines. A well-trained roster of Picket Captains will be vital to the success of a strike, should one become necessary. If you are willing to serve as a Picket Captain and you would like to attend this training in person, please RSVP to me in writing and I’ll get back to you with more information. If you are interested in serving as a Picket Captain, but you are unable to attend the training in person on June 30, please let me know and we’ll see what alternative arrangements can be made. More training sessions may be made available if necessary.

I know this round of bargaining has been tremendously stressful, and I want to thank you for your continued patience and support. A union is only ever as strong as its members are willing to work together and fight for a better workplace. Please email me if you have questions or concerns.

In solidarity,

Chris (he/him)
President, CUPE 3906

Congratulations to Mike Skinner Award Recipients

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Each year, the local recognizes the contributions of an individual or group to the struggle for social and economic justice within the union, or in the McMaster or Hamilton community more broadly.

This year, the union is proud to present the award to Fernando, a Unit 1 member (and former Acting President) whose contributions are almost too many to list. Fernando played a key role in revitalizing and relaunching the Coalition of Student Employee Unions, building links with student workers’ unions across the continent. Inside the union, he’s known for his inspiring spirit, his ability to bring people in, and his willingness to make sure the hard work gets done.

Sonia, Co-Chair of the union’s Indigenous Solidarity Working Group, was given the award last year in recognition of the amazing work they put in to resurrect the working group and establish its Community Impact Fund, which supports grassroots Indigenous sustenance, wellness initiatives, and the ongoing efforts toward Indigenous Sovereignty.

Both recipients were presented with the award last week in person at the Union Social. Congratulations Fernando and Sonia!

Bargaining Support Meeting

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The Bargaining Support/Strike Committee will also be meeting on Friday, May 27, 2022 at 1pm, also on the Zoom platform. We will discuss plans to mobilize Teaching Assistants and Postdoctoral Fellows for their upcoming rounds of bargaining, and we will also begin necessary strike preparations in case a strike or lockout of Sessional Faculty becomes unavoidable. If you are interested in attending, or to find out more information about the Committee, contact Unit 2 Mobilizer and Committee Co-Chair, Walter, at mobilizer@cupe3906.org.

June General Membership Meeting

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The union will be holding our first General Membership Meeting of the summer on June 1, 2022 at 1pm on the Zoom platform. After the recent strike vote in Unit 2–in which Sessionals voted 85% in favour of authorizing a strike if necessary–and with Units 1 and 3 heading into bargaining soon, attendance at these meetings is more important than ever. In addition to discussing plans to support ongoing bargaining efforts, the union will also be looking to elect a new Undergraduate Officer, Chief Steward (Unit 3), and a Three Year Trustee (expiring in 2024). More information about these positions can be found in our by-laws.

Please register in advance for the General Membership Meeting by visiting the link below:

Unit 2 Sessional Faculty Vote in favour of strike action

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Hamilton, ON – 13 May 2022 – The front-line instructors responsible for a significant proportion of undergraduate teaching at McMaster University have concluded a strike vote after three days of online voting.  Sessional Faculty and Hourly-Rated Sessional Music Faculty at McMaster University, comprising CUPE Local 3906 (Unit 2), voted 85% in favour of providing their Bargaining Committee with a strong strike mandate should negotiations the table with the McMaster Administration fail. 

The Local witnessed a record number of members participating in the vote between May 10th and 12th, held online due to pandemic safety measures. “The bargaining team is grateful that a record number of members demonstrated such strong support for the Union’s proposals on the table,” says Chris Fairweather, the Local’s President. This strong mandate speaks to the sky-high inflation rates faced by members, the increasingly precarious nature of employment at postsecondary institutions, and the compensation restrictions imposed on public sector workers by the Ford government’s ‘Bill 124’ legislation. At the same time, the Employer refuses even to discuss options for retirement security and improved job security for members, many of whom have spent decades working at McMaster.

This 85% strike mandate highlights the Employer’s need to take members’ concerns to heart immediately or face job action.  The Employer must work with the Union to find ways to improve job security to support Sessionals in continuing to provide the high quality teaching excellence on which McMaster prides itself as one of Canada’s top-ranked employers.  “We have also seen the Employer issue significant pay increases to upper management and administration over the past few years,” says Fairweather. “Now that we are coming out of our mandatory wage-restriction period, our members – who often juggle multiple jobs – deserve wages gains that address the realities of inflation and keep pace with a rising cost of living in the spirt of respect, equity, and inclusion,” he adds.

The results of this vote do not mean that a strike is forthcoming, but empower the bargaining team to call a strike should further negotiations not provide meaningful gains to members. The employer walked away from our last meeting on April 27th after one hour of bargaining, declared an impasse, and filed for conciliation. The next step in the bargaining process is conciliation, in which a Provincially-appointed conciliator will meet with the parties.

Local 3906 is eager to put the support of its members into action at the bargaining table and is committed to membership engagement throughout the process. Please watch for further updates and additional bargaining support initiatives.

CUPE Local 3906 (Unit 2) represents over 600 Sessional Faculty and Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario each academic year.


Chris Fairweather, President – president@cupe3906.org

Brad Walchuk, Staff Representative- brad@cupe3906.org

A PDF version can be found here: https://bettermac.ca/files/2022/05/CUPE-3906-strike-vote-release-final-2022.pdf

Employment Insurance Information- Spring 2022

Brad WalchukUncategorized

It is the end of the semester, and many due to McMaster’s insistence on a precarious employment relationship, may sessionals will find themselves out of work. This means that you may find yourself without income – or with a major deduction in your income. We encourage you to apply for Employment Insurance, or EI.

You should be/should have been able to collect EI beginning on April 17th if you have enough insurable hours. For information on EI, click here. If you did not apply for EI immediately, it is not too late to apply. More information can be found at the link above.

If you have already served a withholding period in the past 52 weeks, you should have been able to collect EI as of April 17th. If you have not served a withholding period, you will need to serve one now (April 17 to April 23rd) and you should be able to collect as of April 24th.

If you are not working this spring semester, we would encourage you to apply to EI. Service Canada will determine your eligibility. In certain instances, it is possible to both work and collect EI (with some clawbacks) if the amount of work have in the winter has dropped substantially from the work you had during the fall term. More information is available here.

If you are teaching in the spring semester, you should be reporting to Service Canada that you are back working as of May 2, 2022. If McMaster is your sole employer, you should report your first day worked/first day for which paid as May 2, 2022. This means that you can collect EI from either April 17th to May 1, or April 24 to May 1.

The employer has already uploaded your ROE automatically to Service Canada for the past semester.

The final pay date for the winter semester was April 22, which covers the period from April 3rd to April 16th. April 16th is the date that you can report to EI as your last day of work/last day for which paid if you are applying to EI over the spring. The full pay schedule can be found here: https://cupe3906.org/files/2021/09/Pay-Dates-for-CUPE-TA-and-Sessional-Faculty_2021_22.pdf

If you have any additional questions, please contact brad@cupe3906.org or Carolyn (chiefsteward_sessionals@cupe39306.org)

Postdoc Support Fund

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The Postdoctoral Support Fund is a fund secured by your Union in collective bargaining. The fund provides postdoctoral fellows with access to up to $500 to cover expenses for various circumstances. Previously the fund provided support for one-time, unanticipated emergencies. In the current COVID crisis, you and your family may find yourself in such a situation. We are happy to announce that under the terms of the new collective agreement, the fund can also provide support for childcare subsidy and extended UHIP for employee and/or dependents.

Unit 3 members are eligible to apply to the Postdoctoral Fellow Support Fund to address areas of financial need. The fund is currently limited to a maximum of $500 a person, and is administered through the School of Graduate Studies. In our most recent round of bargaining, CUPE 3906 secured a representative on the adjudication committee to advocate for our members who apply.

The fund has historically been a total sum of $20,000 per year; however, effective September 1, 2020, the fund increased to $40,000 per year. This was another change we secured through our collective bargaining efforts.

More specific details about the eligibility, process and requirements to apply for this fund is laid out in the documents found at the link below.

For more information about the fund application process and for a link to the application form, please visit: https://gs.mcmaster.ca/app/uploads/2020/01/postdoctoral_support_fund_2017.pdf

End of Semester Updates- Unit 2

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Large Class Supplement

We have also heard that some sessionals have yet to been paid the Large Class Supplemental Fee. For those of you earning the base rate and teaching a class with more than 75 students, please note that your last pay stub should reflect an additional supplementary payment of $2.00 per student per unit for each student above 75.  For a typical 3-unit course, this would amount to $6.00 per student for each student above 75. If you taught a class with more than 75 students and you have yet to see the supplemental fee added, please reach out to your department ASAP to confirm that this additional supplement will been paid on April 8th if it has not been already.  If the payment is not processed by the end of this week, it will need to be paid on April 22nd, so please follow-up with your administrator this week and let us know if there are any issues.

Post-Contract Work

Any post-contract work (that is, work requested by your supervisor and done after your final grades have been submitted) is separate from your contract and payable at a rate of $67.37/hour. This would include reviewing grades that are being challenged, marking exam that have been deferred, and dealing with cases of plagiarism. This is not an exhaustive list, and more information, including the appropriate form you’ll need to fill out and submit to get paid, is available here. If you are asked to perform this work and are collecting EI or CERB, please let us know.


Once your marks have been submitted (the main list, this does not need to include any deferred exams or extensions based on accommodations), your contract is over and this triggers the beginning of the post-contract period.

Free First Aid Training

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We would like to remind you that Free First Aid Training is a benefit guaranteed under your Collective Agreement and available to all CUPE 3906 members.  This is a Standard Red Cross certificate course offered on a number of dates this spring through Athletics and Recreation (dates listed below). Further information: available here. You will need to attend both days in order to receive the certificate.

Red Cross Standard First Aid

Wed/Thurs  May 4/5

Thurs/Fri May 12/13

Tues/Wed May 17/18

Thurs/Fri May 19/20

Thurs/Fri May 26/27

Sat/Sun May 28/29

Wed/Thurs June 1/2

Tues/Wed  June 7/8

Thurs/Fri June 9/10

Tues/Wed June 14/15

Sat/Sun June 18/19

Standard First Aid Recertification

Wed May 11

Wed May 25

Thurs June 16

The sessions are being held on campus. If you have questions about the specifics of the material being offered, please contact Athletics and Recreation at ext. 24464. They are the ones who are offering and teaching the class. Online registration is not an option. If you are a TA/RA in lieu and working in a different department/program other than the one that you are registered in as a student, registration should be done through the department in which you are employed. Normally, the Administrator from the department that employs you will need to register you as they must provide the departmental code so the cost can be billed accordingly. This charge cannot be passed on to you. There are occasionally issues here so please let us know if there are issues with your registration.

New book club on labour and organizing

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Several of our members have started a book club on relevant issues to our union, including labour and organizing. Taking a cue from the Organizing4Power training series, we will kickstart the club with Jane McAlevey’s book No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. Our first meeting will happen via Zoom, where we will discuss the organizing of future meetings (presentially, hybrid, Zoom etc.). If you are interested please get in touch with us: bookclub3906@proton.me