Free First Aid Training

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We want to remind you that Free First Aid Training is a benefit guaranteed under your Collective Agreement and available to all CUPE 3906 members.  The course, a Standard Red Cross certificate course, is offered on a number of dates this spring through Athletics and Recreation, and the cost of registration is covered by the Employer. Dates for the ten different two-day sessions, and further information, are available here. You will need to attend both days in order to receive the certificate.

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.


October 18th- Vaccination Update and Campus Access

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Below is the most recent update we have from McMaster regarding vaccination status and access to work/campus, effective today (October 18th). Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, if you have been informed you’ll be placed on unpaid leave (or other forms of disciplinary action), if you have an exemption request denied, or general questions and concerns about your safety and the safety of your workplace.

As of Monday, October 18th, if you have not uploaded proof of vaccination or received an approved exemption you will not be permitted to access campus or McMaster-affiliated sites for any reason. 

Employees who are currently approved to work remotely 

In some areas of the University staff and faculty are working fully remotely this fall, with approval of their VP. If you have been working remotely and are not expected to be back on site for the balance of the fall term, please speak with your supervisor to confirm that you can continue with this work arrangement until the end of 2021. During this time you are not permitted to access campus or a McMaster-affiliated site for any reason.  

As of Winter 2022, all employees will be expected to work on-site at least occasionally. Any staff or faculty who are not in compliance with the Vaccination Policy as of January 2022 will be subject to termination of employment (or faculty removal proceedings). 

Employees who are currently working on site 

As of October 18th, employees who have been working on site (in a full or part-time capacity) but have not uploaded proof of vaccination to MacCheck will not be permitted to access campus or McMaster-affiliated sites for any reason.  

If you are in this situation, please notify your supervisor as soon as possible and follow normal protocols for reporting an absence. 

You may be placed on an unpaid leave of absence as early as Monday, October 18th. You may use any earned vacation, compensating time off or personal days before starting unpaid leave. Ultimately, ongoing non-compliance with the Vaccination Policy may result in the termination of your employment with the University. 

We recognize that in some cases individuals have started the course of vaccination, but are not yet considered fully vaccinated. Once individuals are considered fully vaccinated, they will be able to return to normal duties this Fall. 

HR is working with supervisors to clarify the situation for individual employees and you will be contacted by HR the week of October 18th to discuss specifics related to your situation.  Any approvals for remote work must be approved by the appropriate Vice-President.  Such arrangements will be very limited and VP approval is required to ensure a consistent approach is used across campus and across all employee groups. 


We recognize that this is a challenging time for many of our employees. If you need support, the Employee and Family Assistance Program may be accessed for wellness advice or referrals 24 hours per day, 7 days per week ( or 1-800-663-1142). 

CUPE National Pension Summit

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Join CUPE members from across the country for our virtual National Pension Summit to share strategies about how to improve access to pensions for part-time and other precarious workers.

The summit will take place entirely online October 27, 2021, from noon to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Registration is open now and closes on October 22, 2021.

Mandatory Vaccination Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

UPDATE: The Ontario Human Rights Commission has published a statement where it defends that vaccination requirements are generally permissible, and that personal preferences and singular beliefs are not protected: . While the OHRC’s opinion is not law, it is an authoritative statement and is a good indication of what courts could decide on this matter.
Our staff has elaborated a great guide for vaccine questions! It can be viewed by clicking on this link: (a PDF version is available for download at the bottom of the page)

In related news, CUPE Ontario recently held a Vaccination Policies Town Hall with experts discussing the appropriate policies, law and medical data. If you were unable to attend or want find out more relevant information, visit: . More resources can also be found at:

Overworked? Your Collective Agreement Can Help

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We regularly hear of TAs being overworked, primarily because they are provided more assignments than they can reasonably mark in the time allocated. We often hear of TAs being allocated 10 to 15 minutes for an entire essay and are expected to provide feedback to students in that time. Under your Collective Agreement, the employer cannot act in a way that is unreasonable or arbitrary, and assigning too much work without detail of how it can and should be completed is a violation of your rights. Article 12.02(c) or your Collective Agreement states that your professor must provide you with “…details about the nature, number, and scheduling of specific assignments and the estimated hours of work each will involve. The employee and Employment Supervisor will discuss this information, taking into account course enrollment, nature of assignments, and expectations for grading, in determining reasonable workload.” If your Hours of Work form does not reflect this level of detail and direction, you are being set up to be overworked. If you have concerns, please reach out to us and we can provide assistance and support.


Overworked Employees: Signs and Prevention - Great People Inside

COVID vaccination documentation update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We have had questions about the following statement from the Employer on their communications about uploading COVID vaccination forms:

It is critically important to upload your documentation into MacCheckWe encourage you to do this as soon as possible and well in advance of the October 17th deadline.  

We have followed up with Employee-Labour Relations and we can confirm that it is meant to refer to the requirement to upload proof of vaccination vs. a comment on exemption processes.

In terms of exemption requirements, employees who are seeking exemptions are to complete the exemption forms as outlined in the vaccine mandate FAQ *see 4B – this includes non-medical and medical forms (medical forms need to be completed by a physician or RN). Employees can otherwise submit any additional information they felt the University should be made aware of to support assessment of their exemption request. Otherwise HR teams may follow-up if additional information would be helpful for the assessment process.

Please let us know if you have any other questions –

COVID back-to-work questions

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We’ve been hearing many questions and concerns from members regarding the back-to-campus protocols that are in place (and, in many cases, that are absent). The Union has a number of health and safety related questions in light of the return-to-work in the midst of the pandemic that we posed to Human Resources. The question are below, with the topic bolded, and HR’s answers to the questions are below, in italics.

Among other things, your union remains concern with the lack of distancing in learning spaces (permitted, sadly, by our provincial government) and that fact that McMaster has enforced anything more stringent. We are also concerned by the cleaning schedule of common office spaces that many of our TAs and Sessionals occupy. We believe that the university’s once-per-week cleaning schedule is insufficient.


air filtering-what, if any, updates to air filtering have occurred at McMaster?

Earlier this summer, Facilities Services reviewed campus ventilation systems to inform McMaster’s updated ventilation plan and implementation for the fall. McMaster’s Utilities team is working closely with Environmental & Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS) to ensure that the university ventilation systems are functioning as designed and that any additional ventilation guidelines from Public Health are implemented.

The government of Ontario has recommended that elementary and secondary learning environments adopt the approach of installing standalone high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in buildings without a mechanical ventilation system.  McMaster is updating its ventilation plan for the fall to include this approach.

This is in addition to: assessing and making any required updates to the ventilation systems in buildings on campus; maximizing fresh air and keeping air recirculation to a minimum in all buildings with mechanical ventilation systems; and installing high standard air filters (called MERV-13 air filters) in all buildings where air is recirculated before in-person learning begins.

Here is a full list of buildings on campus noting their ventilation type.

Detailed information is available here: and here:

cleaning schedule for shared office space-what is the current schedule/frequency of cleaning for classrooms and shared office space (ie/ TA and sessional offices)?

McMaster has a comprehensive cleaning plan in place for the Fall. As part of this plan, Custodial Services will clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, like door handles and light switches, in high traffic areas with increased frequency. Classrooms and lecture halls will be cleaned nightly and then treated with electrostatic disinfectant spray. Public washrooms will be cleaned twice daily at a minimum. Every evening, common spaces like libraries and eateries will be cleaned. Meeting spaces will be cleaned once per day and offices will be cleaned once per week. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are provided in classrooms and common spaces for personal use.   

Facility Services cleaning information is available here –

More information is also available here:

PPE (in particular eye shield)-what is the status of freely available PPE for staff, including eye shields?

Masks are available from your department if you do not have one.  Information on mask guidelines are located at this link:

A face shield is not equivalent to a face covering.  If you are working with someone within 2 metres and they are not able to wear a mask due to an exemption, then you should also wear safety glasses along with your mask.   For work purposes those safety glasses would be supplied by the University.

virtual office hours-we are hopeful that, whenever possible, virtual office hours will be permitted and encouraged in an effort to reduce contact in small spaces? Is this something that has been passed on to employment supervisors?

There are virtual office hours for many staff and faculty, and in-person discussions are encouraged by appointment so planning can be undertaken to prevent congregating, and also planning with respect to use of MacCheck and ensuring all parties are cleared to be on-site if meeting in person.

Outdoor spaces have been equipped with additional seating and increased Wi-Fi capacity to provide more opportunities to safely learn, study and collaborate in the fresh air.

percentage of in classes online-on a faculty-specific level, what is the percentage of classes being offered remotely?

As discussed at LMC, there are in person parts of many courses. There are approximately 50% of classes that have in person components for the fall term – either as a requirement or an opportunity – labs are in person, lectures are online for example. It is expected that on campus presence will be increasing into the winter term, staying closely aligned to health and safety direction from the province and public health.

Plexiglass shields-are Plexiglas shields set up in classrooms in front of the primary speaker? If not, what is the process to obtain these?

Plexiglass is not set up in individual classrooms in front of the primary speaker as this is not recommended. All individuals in classrooms are required to wear masks or face coverings.

More information is available here:

Availability of sanitizers in campus building- to what degree are sanitizers available in buildings and in individual classrooms?

Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are also available in each classroom.

More information is available here:

Masking- Avenue’s “Back to Mac” training says that level 1 surgical masks are required where physical distancing of 2 meters can’t be maintained. Will the employer be providing these to folks who may need them? How/where will these be obtained?

If physical distancing cannot be maintained in a space that requires it, due to the type of work that is being performed, the surgical masks can be ordered from the FHS Scientific Stores.   If this is part of an employee’s work it would be supplied by University.

Numbers of campus- what is the number of CUPE 3906 members who are expected to come onto campus for work this term?

This is not tracked centrally – each department is supporting employees on in person needs and is expected to vary day to day based on operational requirements.

Capacity- what is the percentage-based capacity for in-person classes?

The province permits instructional spaces without physical distancing; however, at McMaster larger classrooms are being used for in person learning, where available.  Specifically, only 2% of in-person class components have between 51 and 100 students and most are in rooms where the room capacity has been kept under 50% allowing students to spread out.  The University adjusted room assignments in September to have as many classes as possible in larger rooms. Almost 60% of classes with on campus classrooms have enrolments of less than 25.  In addition, lecture halls have been fitted with tools that allow students to attend remotely, even if the class is being offered in person. 

Relocating- is the employer willing to move tutorials out of small basement rooms into larger rooms not in use if members find those rooms to be unsafe? What is the process for this?

Classes / tutorials have been arranged based on available rooms, and the specific teaching and learning needs for students.  The health and safety of each space on campus has been reviewed and confirmed. If there are specific questions regarding health and safety of specific spaces, please advise and they will be reviewed by the EHOSS and facilities teams for response.

Distancing- since physical distancing measures have been reduced, what is the science that supports that change in health and safety controls/protocols?

The University is following direction from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities with respect to physical distancing requirements – both where they are required, and where they are not required. Please also see additional information above regarding current capacity considerations for the fall term.

Ill-effects of vaccination- should someone get sick from receiving their first or second does of vaccination, what is the employer’s process? What is the employer’s process for long-term illness from the mandated vaccination?

It remains a personal decision whether to get vaccinated and which vaccine may be most appropriate for the individual’s unique circumstances. If employees have questions about what it will mean for them from a health perspective, they should speak with their healthcare provider about their circumstances.

Exemption requests based on human rights grounds, including medical / disability will continue to be reviewed even if submitted beyond the deadline – they may require additional time for consideration given volume of requests received. Information regarding the exemption process can be found at:

Vaccination Record Access- Will front-line (or direct) employment supervisors have access to an employee’s vaccination record or test results as a part of the operation of this policy?

Supervisors do not / will not have access to an employee’s vaccination record or test result as a result of the MacCheck digital tool. They will only see “cleared” or “not cleared” to attend on-site.

Mandatory Vaccination Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

As you may have read via MacDailyNews or in an email sent by McMaster:

McMaster’s Vaccination Policy requires that all faculty and staff upload their proof of vaccination by October 17th, 2021 at 11:59pm. This requirement applies to everyone, including those who may currently be working remotely. After this date, if you have not provided proof of vaccination or received an approved human rights exemption, you will not be permitted to attend McMaster’s campus or any McMaster-affiliated location. 

If you have submitted a request for exemption from vaccination due to a protected human rights ground, please disregard this message and thank you for your patience. These requests are being thoroughly and confidentially reviewed in the sequence in which they were received. The University will provide further communication to you as soon as possible.

It is critically important to upload your documentation into MacCheckWe encourage you to do this as soon as possible and well in advance of the October 17th deadline.  

The Vaccination Validation Team (part of Human Resources) will continue to review vaccination receipts. Once you have uploaded your information, the status will read as ‘pending’ until your submission is reviewed and validated.  Please do not worry about this pending status – it will not prevent you from receiving clearance to attend a McMaster site when you complete the Daily Check In on MacCheck. The proof of vaccination reviews are being completed as quickly as possible.

If you have questions or require assistance, please let us know.

Wanted: CUPE 3906 seeking additional department stewards

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Stewards hold one of the most important positions in our Union, they are our eyes and ears in every department and are vital to inform both their departments and the rest of the Union about what is going on. We are constantly looking for more motivated people to fulfill this role.

If you want to do this crucial service to your fellow workers, please fill out one of the forms here and send it to us! There is also a small honorarium set in our budget in recognition of the valuable work our Stewards do.

We are also planning to host one of CUPE National’s training for Stewards. If you are a Steward, or if you wish to become one, we highly recommend that you take this free training. You only need to send an email to expressing your interest!

Lastly, if you want to participate more in the Union, but not as a Steward, we encourage you to check out our other committees and get in touch with their chairs, your help is always appreciated and needed!

New CUPE 3906 Face Masks are in stock

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Newer, better CUPE 3906 face masks have arrived! These ones have adjustable ear loops and a metal nose insert to help keep your glasses from fogging up. Supplies are somewhat limited, so if you’d like to receive one from the union, please fill out the request form here.