Solidarity with CUPE School Board Workers!

presidentUncategorized

Since the summer, members of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) have been in bargaining with the provincial government. The union, which belongs to 55,000 workers at primary and secondary schools and school boards across Ontario, has been fighting for a collective agreement that delivers some semblance of economic justice for severely underpaid educational workers, many of whom earn just $39,000 a year.

The union is also fighting for a collective agreement that ensures safer, healthier, and more effective public schools by committing the government to hire more educational workers, adequately staff school libraries, guarantee healthier cleaning standards, and tackle maintenance backlogs. To back these demands, OSBCU members voted 96.5% in favour of strike action.

Rather than bargain in good faith with these essential workers, many of whom have made profound sacrifices to keep our schools running throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Ford Government has tabled legislation to override their constitutionally protected right to strike and impose a four-year collective agreement. By invoking the “Notwithstanding Clause” the government is also attempting to shield its legislation from judicial review, because it knows what it’s doing is otherwise unconstitutional.

This legislation is an assault not just on the OSBCU members who are seeing their constitutional rights trampled, but on every single worker in the province. The right to come together in a union and bargain collectively is meaningless without the right to back your bargaining with a strike. The entire labour movement must come together in opposition. The right to strike wasn’t won in the courts, it was won on the picket lines. We must defend it there as well.

OSBCU has already announced that some form of job action will happen as scheduled on Friday, November 4th, whether or not there is legislation that purports to ban it. When this happens, CUPE 3906 members will be there in support, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with education workers and anyone else who stands up for workers’ rights, for better schools, and for a better world for all of us.

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

CUPE 3906 Temporary Office Access Notice

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Please note that there is ongoing construction outside of the front of our temporary office at 1046 King Street West in Hamilton.  Our temporary office is open for regular office hours during the construction, although accessibility has been impacted due to the removal of parts of the sidewalk.

Please note that members can still get in touch with us via email, and benefits claims and applications can still be submitted via email.

Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Adjusting Hours of Work Forms

Brad WalchukUncategorized

DID YOU KNOW?  Adjusting hours of work!
Are you finding that you are working more than your assigned hours, you are having trouble meeting deadlines, or you have a major academic deadline that conflicts with your TA deadline?
You can request adjustments to your hours of work!  Article 12.04 (below) outlines the process for requesting adjustments to your hours of work.  You have the right to request adjustments in several circumstances.  Please feel free to reach out to the Union if you have questions about this process, or require some assistance with it.  The specific language in our Collective Agreement is:
12.04 Hours of Work Adjustments/Additional Hours of Work 
(a) If, at any time during an assignment, either the employee or Employment Supervisor wishes to amend the allocation or number of hours on the Hours of Work Form, either party may request and will be granted a meeting for this purpose within 5 business days.  
(b) As soon as an employee has a reasonable belief that they will be unable to perform the duties of the position within the hours specified, they shall request and will be granted a meeting with their Employment Supervisor within 5 business days. 
(c) Any changes to the employee’s assignment will be attached to the Hours of Work form and such revisions will be initialed by both parties. A copy of the revised form will be retained by the Department and forwarded to the Union. 
(d) If the matter is not resolved to the employee’s satisfaction, they may then meet with their Employment Supervisor and Department Chair (or their delegate) or their Department for a final determination. If the employee chooses to have a Union Representative present at such a meeting, any subsequent grievance would be filed at Step 2 of the grievance procedure as outlined in Article 10. 
(e) Unless the Steps provided for in 12.04 have been followed, and written permission received, no employee shall be requested or permitted to perform work beyond their originally allocated hours.  
(f) If an employee accepts a request to work additional hours, the employee will be paid in accordance with Schedule “A”.  
(g) The Employer shall offer assistance and provide a supportive environment to its Employees experiencing domestic violence, including accommodating a leave(s) of absence, adjustment of work schedules, giving consideration in the situation of discipline or other supportive responses as may be appropriate in the circumstances. In all responses to domestic violence, the Parties shall respect employees’ confidentiality. 
(h) Where an employee is experiencing difficulty meeting their employment obligations, for reasons of language or otherwise, they are encouraged to speak with their Employment Supervisor.

Unit 2 Professional Development Fund and Tech Items- Reconsideration

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Following the recent changes to the Unit 2 Professional Development Fund, the Benefits Committee voted to retroactively consider certain expenses that were previously ineligible for reimbursement under the previous PDF guidelines. Until November 10th 2022, all Unit 2 members that taught during the 2021-2022 academic year may submit claims for tech and software items that are now included under the NEW 2022-2023 guidelines, but which were previously excluded this past academic year.
 
To clarify, this applies ONLY to previously ineligible tech and software items, the committee will NOT be reviewing any non-tech or software expenses from the 2021-2022 academic year.
 
In order to be considered members must have otherwise been eligible (had money left under the fund at the end of 2021-22) and have taught during the 2021-2022 academic year. To apply please submit a completed tech-specific PDF application found here and relevant receipts to Benefits@cupe3906.org
 
Please note, all applications are still subject to approval by the committee. 
 
As always, members can continue to submit applications for the 2022-2023 year. More information about the fund is available here: https://cupe3906.org/sessionals-unit-2/professional-development-fund-unit-2/ 
 
If you have any questions regarding eligibility or the resubmission process please reach out to Kyle Morrison at Benefits@cupe3906.org

McMaster Teaching and Research Assistants vote “yes” to ensure high-quality academic jobs on campus

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Teaching assistants (TAs) and research assistants in lieu (RAs) at McMaster University stand united in their fight to ensure high-quality academic jobs for over twenty-five hundred student academic workers.

In a historic strike vote held earlier this week, 90% of TAs and RAs voted “yes” to send a strong message to the university’s administration. TAs and RAs are demanding that McMaster table a fair and reasonable offer to protect students from tuition increases, address their concerns about the rising cost of living in Hamilton and a lack of work opportunities for graduate students, and to end inequitable wages between undergraduate and graduate TAs.

“Academic workers at McMaster are demanding better,” said Chris Fairweather, president of CUPE Local 3906. “The status quo of limited job security and inadequate wages is no longer sustainable for our members, especially when any wage increases can be clawed back by tuition hikes.” TAs and RAs at McMaster – nearly all of whom are students and pay tuition to McMaster – are facing once-in-a-generation inflation and raising house costs in Hamilton, yet wages and funding packages remain stagnant, inequitable, and unable to support student workers for the duration of their studies.

Your elected bargaining team is calling on the administration at McMaster to table a proposal that offers protection against future tuition increases, recognizes the job insecurity faced by graduate student-workers, and ends a significant wage discrepancy between undergraduate and graduate teaching.

“Not only are the proposals we have tabled around protections against tuition increases and extended work guarantees for graduate students reasonable and well within McMaster’s means, they also exist at many other comparable universities in Ontario” added Fairweather.

CUPE 3906 is seeking protections against future tuition increases in the form of a reimbursement, like those at the University of Ottawa and Carleton, and extended work guarantees for graduate students, similar to those that exist at the University of Toronto, York, and Carleton.

“With this strike vote, our members are overwhelmingly clear: we will not accept a contract that is more of the same and which fails to recognize the growing challenges and realities we face in simply getting by. We demand better of McMaster,” Fairweather explained.

A positive strike vote does not mean that TAs and RAs are on strike, nor does it set a date for a strike. It authorizes the bargaining team to call a strike in the event that talks break down at the bargaining table and after a provincial “no board” report has been issued. Further updates will be sent to your McMaster email accounts.

Quick Facts:

  • Since 2016, McMaster University’s yearly consolidated surpluses have totalled over $730 million
  • Despite representing roughly 1/3rd of McMaster’s total workforce, TA wages make-up just 3.7% of McMaster’s total payroll
  • While the average yearly rent in Hamilton has gone up $4,572 since 2019, the maximum yearly gross pay for graduate student TAs/RAs in lieu at McMaster has increased by only $575.87
  • Doug Ford’s Bill 124 capped wage increases for TAs/RAs to 1% per year for 3 years starting in 2019. Had these wages kept pace with inflation during that time, TAs/RAs in lieu would be earning $5/hour more than they are today
  • The wage gap between undergraduate and graduate TAs is nearly $19 per hour, despite both groups performing equivalent work
  • CUPE 3906, Unit 1 represents over 2500 TAs and RAs (in lieu) per year – nearly all of whom are students

For more information, please contact:

Chris Fairweather, President, CUPE 3906 – president@cupe3906.org

Mary Ellen Campbell, Chief Negotiator, CUPE 3906 – mary@cupe3906.org

Solidarity with Striking Academic Workers at Dalhousie!

presidentUncategorized

This morning, Teaching Assistants, Markers, Demonstrators, and Part-Time Academics at Dalhousie University in Halifax began strike action in pursuit of a fair collective agreement. While workers at Dalhousie have been facing staggering increases in the cost of living, their university’s wage proposals promise only to put them further behind.

All across the country, public universities and colleges have fallen increasingly under the control of lawyers and corporate executives whose only goal is to generate profits and create student debt for the big banks at the expense of students, workers, and the communities post-secondary education is meant to serve. In some cases, universities are generating hundreds of millions of dollars in profits each year while putting very little back into their communities. In others, reckless governance of this kind is putting universities at risk, as we recently saw with the catastrophic mismanagement and subsequent insolvency of Laurentian University in Sudbury.

As part of their relentless pursuit of profit, universities are increasingly exploiting the labour of precariously-employed academic workers. Rather than creating more full-time, tenure-track positions and other secure, fair-paying academic jobs, our universities are becoming job insecurity machines. This undermines not just our quality of living, but with it, the quality of the research and teaching our universities can produce. Academic workers, our students, and the communities that depend on us deserve better.

As Teaching Assistants at McMaster take their own strike vote over so many of the same issues, the CUPE 3906 Executive Committee stands in solidarity with CUPE 3912 and everyone else fighting for better post-secondary education across the country. We encourage members of CUPE 3906 to share their support for CUPE 3912. We call on academic unions and workers across the country to do the same. We join the growing chorus of groups demanding that Dalhousie return to the table and offer these vital workers a fair contract. In support of their struggle, we have also authorized a $500 contribution to the CUPE 3912 Strike Fund.

Your fight is our fight, and together, we will win!

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Strike Vote Information

Brad WalchukUncategorized

TODAY!!! Monday, October 17 at 4:00pm – HSC 1A5/Zoom

Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants (in lieu) will take a strike vote in our ongoing negotiations with the university. 

Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
 
The new Collective Agreement being negotiated will set our pay, benefits and rights for the entirety of its duration, which is usually for 3 years. While TAs and RAs are facing once-in-a-generation cost of living increases and an affordable housing crisis, our wages have been capped to a 1% annual increase for the last 3 years under Bill 124. This is the first time we can negotiate outside of that cap: unfortunately, it means that our wages have taken a hefty pay cut due to inflation alone. In raises alone, McMaster has offered is is offering far less than the rate of inflation as food prices and rent in Hamilton and the GTA skyrocket. In many departments, TAs depend on their TA pay to be able to afford basic necessities, like food and rent.
Just last year, McMaster had $232 million in excess revenues over expenses, $188m in more than what was projected for 2021. McMaster’s management can afford more, but it refuses to do so. The parties remain far apart on other issues as well, such as fifth year funding for PhDs, enhanced benefits, tuition assistance/reimbursements, and the large pay gap between graduate and undergraduate TAs.  A strong strike mandate will show the university that TAs are serious about our priorities at the table. On the other hand, if few of us vote “yes” during the strike vote, the employer will have no reason to change their current position. You can read more in our bargaining bulletins here: https://bettermac.ca/unit-1-tas-and-ras-in-lieu/bargaining-updates/.
 
All current TAs and RAs (in lieu) are entitled to vote, as are those who worked in Winter 2022 or Spring/Summer 2022 and those who have a “contract in-hand” to work later in the 2022-23 academic year.
 
As per our by-laws, voting will start after the Strike Vote SGMM and will continue until October 19 at 11:55pm. Voting will be conducted electronically online. You will receive a ballot from Election Runner (not CUPE) in your McMaster inbox shortly after the end of the meeting, though the exact time will vary. Check your spam/junk folder for an email from noreply@electionrunner.com, and contact brad@cupe3906.org if you have any issues. The SGMM will include a presentation about bargaining so far and an opportunity to discuss what’s at stake in the strike vote. We will also elect scrutineers, who are responsible for verifying the results of the vote.

Have Questions about the Strike Vote?

We know there are a lot of questions about the strike vote and the possibility of a strike. Answers to many questions are available in our Strike Vote FAQ document: https://bettermac.ca/unit-1-strike-vote-faq/

Executive Statement on the Racist Attack Against Ward 14 Candidate Kojo Damptey

presidentUncategorized

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee condemns the racist attack against Hamilton’s Ward 14 City Council candidate Kojo Damptey that took place on or around October 10th, 2022. Kojo’s campaign poster located at Upper Paradise and Mohawk Road was vandalized with white supremacist graffiti.

We share the view that this action was not a legitimate or spontaneous engagement in debate, but rather a pre-meditated and hateful attempt to silence and intimidate this candidate and BIPOC members of our community in general. The action exemplifies that white supremacy is a pressing problem in our communities, and should be treated as an organized and dangerous component by all people of conscience. The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee re-affirms our commitment against racism and white supremacy. We will be vigilant in our attempts to root out white supremacy and create safe spaces for BIPOC community members to seek voice and representation in whatever institutions they see fit.

In solidarity,

The Executive Committee of CUPE Local 3906

Executive Statement in Support of Sex Workers’ Legal Challenge

presidentUncategorized

On Monday, the Ontario Superior Court began hearing a challenge to the Protections of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA). The current challenge, undertaken by 25 sex workers and sex worker organization in Ontario, argues that PCEPA violates section 7 of the Charter. The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee stands in solidarity with sex workers in their fight for safer working conditions.

The current legal framework impacts sex worker’s access to safe working practices. While the sale of sexual services is legal under PCEPA, buying sexual services and advertising or communication for the purpose of selling sexual services are illegal. By criminalizing these aspects of sex work, workers have few options for vetting customers and negotiating terms. Further, the PCEPA has been criticized for conflating sex work with human trafficking and limiting sex worker autonomy and agency. Many sex workers also associate the current legal framework with police harassment, despite the sale of sexual services being legal under the current framework. This harassment, as well as the stigma surrounding this type of work, makes it difficult to take action when assault or a breach of terms occurs.

Sex workers rights are human rights!

In solidarity,

The Executive Committee of CUPE Local 3906

Expansion of Unit 2 Professional Development Fund

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Unit 2 members,
Recently the benefits committee voted to implement the following change to the Professional Development Fund (PDF) upon receiving several suggestions from the membership. This expansion is due to gains that were secured through our most recent round of collective bargaining and would not have been possible without the support of the membership.
Starting September 1st 2022, the committee will begin accepting PDF applications for software and limited tech items. These items will be considered on a case by case basis by the committee in order to ensure fair and equal access to the fund. While we will consider each case individually on the merits of its own claim, and cannot consider hardware items such as laptops, items such as HDMI cables and stylus pens are an expense that has a reasonable chance to be approved. If you have questions about a specific claim, we would encourage you to reach out to our benefits officer prior to purchasing the item. In order to claim these items members will be required to
a) Certify that they have first reached out to their respective departments requesting access to the required items. Members will be required to fill out the following form FOUND HERE detailing the steps they took to access these resources. Failure to do so may result in a claim being rejected by the committee. (maybe insert here some language citing collective agreement for info purposes)
b) Provide a detailed explanation highlighting there relevance to their professional development. Failure to do so may result in a delay or refusal of an application.
Please note, certain Tech i.e. Laptops, tablets etc. and Software i.e. Grammarly etc. will remain ineligible at this time. The full list of ineligible items can be found here (https://cupe3906.org/files/2018/02/Ineligibility-PDF-Application-Updated-2018-1.pdf). Stylus pens, which have always been included, will remain items included under the fund.
The total individual entitlement under the funds remains the same. That is, Sessional Faculty are eligible for $200 per 3 unit course to a maximum of $1000 per academic year.  Subsequent sections of individual courses taught by Sessional Faculty will be eligible for a Professional Development award of $100 for the first additional section taught and $50 for each subsequent section taught (up to the maximum yearly entitlement).
Hourly Rated Music Faculty (HRSMF) eligibility will be calculated according to the unit calculations in Article 20.02 of the Unit 2 Collective Agreement (i.e., 1 student = 1 unit, or 1 Special Studies in Chamber Music = 1 unit). (For every 3 units taught, HRSMF will receive $200; subsequent units/students will be prorated.)
If you have questions about the eligibility of an item and would like clarification prior to purchase please contact Benefits@cupe3906.org