Unit 1 Conciliation- TODAY!

Brad WalchukUncategorized

After months of pushing McMaster University to negotiate a new collective agreement that is fair and reflects the best interests of our members, the Unit 1 bargaining team will begin conciliation with the Employer and a government-appointed conciliation officer TODAY.
As a reminder, we have included some of the biggest challenges faced by TAs as well as a list of our key bargaining priorities below.
The problem:
  • McMaster provides zero university-wide training to TAs.
  • McMaster has tried to eliminate the standard number of hours per TA contract, thus further threatening our job security.
  • Almost all TAs earn less than $11,500 in wages each year while also having to pay close to $8,000 in tuition. In fact, many — especially undergraduate TAs — earn less than $5,000/year!
  • So far McMaster has refused to provide us with wages that keep up with the annual rate of inflation in Hamilton, which currently sits at around 2%.
    • Here it is worth noting that while the University attempts to negotiate within the parameters of a bill (not a law) that, if passed, would cap annual wage increases for public sector workers like us at 1%, McMaster’s Board of Governors somehow thought it reasonable to approve “performance-based” salary bonuses of up to 3% for the highest-paid members of the University’s Management Group: https://cupe3906.org/2019/10/30/the-audacity-of-mcmaster-3-salary-increases-for-managers/

What we want:

  • Paid TA training
  • Capping the number of students in each tutorial or lab
  • Job security in the form of a longer guaranteed TA period
  • Closing the pay gap between graduate TAs and undergraduate TAs
  • Wages that keep up with the rising cost of living
  • + more!
One of the best ways to avert a strike is by making the Employer feel the pressure of an engaged membership. We’re already off to an amazing start with an 87% strike vote — a historic mandate for Unit 1. Today we are asking that you help us build on this momentum by informing the University Secretariat and Board of Governors of your support for the CUPE 3906 Unit 1 bargaining team and the priorities ratified by our members. Consider taking 5 minutes out of your day to let the “right” people know it will be in the University’s best interests to negotiate a fair deal ASAP:
You can also use social media to share our most recent bargaining infographic (attached to this email) and/or stories about how your TAs have helped you. Keep us in the know by using #BetterMac or by tagging us @CUPE3906. TAs make the university tick, and ideally McMaster will come to realize this fact without us having to show them through a work stoppage!
We will continue to inform you of our progress at the bargaining table as much as possible. For a complete list of bargaining updates, please visit https://bettermac.ca.
In solidarity,
The Unit 1 bargaining team

The Audacity of McMaster- 3% Salary Increases for Managers

Brad WalchukUncategorized

As McMaster Proposes Capping Our Annual Wage Increases at 1%, Senior Administrators Vote to Give THEMSELVES “Merit-Based” Bonuses of Up to 3%

CUPE 3906 made quite the splash at McMaster’s Board of Governors’ meeting last Thursday. In the days prior we had sent the BoG this open letter, and for the first time, our demands were added to the agenda. Several 3906 members attended the open session of the meeting, and the EGS also submitted an open letter to the BoG in support of our bargaining priorities.

Our President, Nathan Todd, addressed the Board directly and demanded that they immediately mandate the University’s bargaining team to secure a contract that addresses our members’ concerns. Not long after, in what might seem like some sort of cosmic joke were it not so infuriating, the BoG approved the implementation of “merit-based” lump sum bonuses of up to 3% to some of the highest-paid members of “The Management Group” at McMaster. These TMG members, a number of whom also sit on the BoG, fall into pay bands ranging from $98,581 to $201,075 – more than most 3906 members could hope to take home over several years.

When our VP External, James Watson, stood up to challenge the Board on how these bonuses would comply with the 1% wage cap in Doug Ford’s Bill 124 should it pass, we got crickets in return. 🦗🦗🦗

This 1% cap amounts to about half the rate of inflation in Hamilton. As the cost of living continues to rise, we know that our members cannot afford further de facto pay cuts. And while we have pushed the Employer to quit negotiating within the parameters of this bill that is not yet law, they continue to act as though their hands are tied. But we’re onto them!

We read the the agenda/minutes from Thursday’s full meeting to find that the BoG decided to give themselves recourse to these 3% pay bonuses because *gasp* Bill 124 is not a law: “Please note that [the bill] is currently before the Ontario legislature, and is being closely monitored. To the extent that Bill 124 or other compensation restraint legislation gives rise to new regulatory requirements that impact this document, it will be amended to ensure compliance” (pg. 348).

Basically, while the BoG acknowledges Bill 124 as a possibility, they are willing to change things retroactively for themselves to be compliant with the law. For 3906 members, though, the University refuses to entertain the idea of negotiating within the bounds of current legislation only.

More about the University’s audacity on the matter of wages to come, so stay tuned! For now, we strongly recommend listening to the latest episode of CUPEcast, which covers the BoG meeting, Bill 124, and the implications of the recent federal election for CUPE 3906. We are incredibly grateful to our Physics and Astronomy Department Steward, Adam, for creating such a valuable resource for our members.


In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Team


CUPE 3906 Unit 3- Postdoc Bargaining Bulletin #6

Brad WalchukUncategorized

CUPE 3906 Bargaining Bulletin #6
Unit 3: Postdoctoral Fellows 
OCTOBER 23rd, 2019
HAMILTON, ON — On Monday, October 21st – and for the first time since mid-August – your Unit 3 bargaining team met with the Employer.

We have finally begun to see some positive movement on benefits (such as the health care spending account, family dental rebate, and professional development), and we believe this is the result of an engaged and mobilized membership. That said, Bill 124 remains a stumbling block as the Employer seeks to keep compensation to a minimum. We remain concerned about the employer’s proposals on vacation, which are a rollback from the current entitlement. The bargaining team hopes to secure additional dates with the Employer’s team in next month.

Our President wrote an open letter to the McMaster Board of Governors urging Board members to bargain according to what the Employer thinks Postdocs deserve, and not according to the Conservative Government’s draft legislation.  A copy of the letter can be viewed at: https://bettermac.ca/2019/10/18/open-letter-to-the-mcmaster-board-of-governors/

Unit 3 is CUPE 3906’s smallest unit with just over 170 members, and consists of postdoctoral fellows working at McMaster University. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.

Pets for CUPE 3906

Brad WalchukUncategorized

It’s no secret that academics love their pets! Less known, though, is the fact that our pets have been some of our strongest and bravest supporters in the current round of bargaining with McMaster. Be they dogs, cats, or guinea pigs – they’re all fed up with how the University has handled its negotiations with Units 1 and 3 and they’re not afraid to say it!

If you have a pet who loves TAs and postdocs, we’d love for you to participate in this campaign! There are several laminated signs in the union office (KTH B111) for folks to borrow. Some are specific to dogs and cats and some speak to key bargaining priorities such as TA training, 5th year TA guarantees, better wages, and closing the pay gap between undergraduate and graduate TAs. We will also be making printable PDF versions of these signs available in a separate post.

You can post your own photos to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tag us @CUPE3906, OR send them our way via Messenger or email using vicepresident@cupe3906.org. We hope that many of you will join us as we continue to increase pressure on the University and look forward to building even greater solidarity in the weeks to come!

#PetsForCUPE3906 #GoodDogsAgainstBadWages












General Membership Meeting- October 30th at noon- BSB 108

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Our next General Membership Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 30th at 12 PM in BSB 108. This GMM will cover the following:
  • Unit 3 bargaining updates
  • Any member questions regarding the conciliation process for Unit 1, set to begin on Nov. 5th
  • Election to fill the position of Alternate on the Unit 3 bargaining team
  • Voting on member and exec committee proposals 
  • Electing member delegates to attend this year’s OFL Convention
As always, food will be provided (vegan and Halal options included) and childcare reimbursements will be available to those who need them. We hope to see you there!

Unit 2 Dental Plan- Enrollment and Deductions

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The one-time $170 CUPE 3906 single dental coverage deduction is tentatively scheduled for October 25, 2019.
Unless you have submitted the proper opt-out form and documentation prior to the October 1st deadline, you will be automatically enrolled in CUPE 3906 Unit 2 single dental coverage.  The coverage is retroactive to September 1st, 2019, and will be available to you until August 31, 2020, regardless of your employment status at McMaster.
For more information on the plan, including the policy information you need to take to the dentist and for a link to the coverage booklet, please visit our website: https://cupe3906.org/sessionals-unit-2/unit-2-dental-coverage/
Any eligible outstanding claims form September and/or October 2019 will be paid out after the deduction and the information upload.  The earliest day eligible claims will be paid out will likely be November 6, 2019.
The deduction is a one-time deduction (however you will see a record of the deduction in the “year to date” section of your pay statement until the end of the 2019 calendar year).
If you have opted out of our coverage, you shouldn’t see the $170 “CUPE Dental” deduction on your October 25th pay statement.  If you do, please let us know at administrator@cupe3906.org.
If you have enrolled in family dental coverage, you will have the family dental deduction made from your bank account (not your pay statement) on November 1st and December 1st, 2019.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.  We hope you find the benefit useful and worthwhile overall.
In solidarity,
Your CUPE 3906 Executive

Letter of Support from the GSA

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The McMaster University Graduate Student Association (GSA) recently issued this letter of support:

It is abundantly clear that TAs and RAs in lieu are united in their insistence upon a fair offer from McMaster University. As the GSA rightly notes, the wages of graduate students are “barely enough to support a single adult, much less one who may be supporting a family.” Yet despite this, the employer is seeking to reduce the entitlement to a minimal number of hours associated with a graduate TA guarantee. This will see graduate TAs falling even further behind. A fifth year guarantee – which would be more consistent with the average duration of a graduate program – is needed to ensure that graduate students aren’t without income prior to their graduation. It’s time for a #BetterMac

CUPE 3906 Members Give Strong Strike Mandate

Brad WalchukUncategorized


Hamilton, ON— Over the past four days, CUPE 3906 (Unit 1) members have provided their bargaining team with a clear strike vote mandate and in so doing have sent a strong message to McMaster: bargain the fair contract that TAs and RAs in lieu deserve. Membership turnout for this vote was the highest in living memory, with 87% voting to authorize strike action, if necessary. These results highlight the importance of the issues at stake to the membership.

The union’s bargaining team is heartened and motivated by the support that an 87% ‘YES’ result represents. The outcome of this vote illustrates a real commitment to the needs identified by the membership, including paid pedagogical and anti-oppression TA training, strengthened graduate guarantees, equitable wages between undergraduate and graduate TAs, better representation for Indigenous members, an increase to the minimum number of hours on a contract, and protection against tuition increases. Having heard the collective voice of our membership, the union is empowered to bargain a fair Collective Agreement for a #BetterMac and deliver real gains to TAs and RAs in lieu.

The results of this vote do not mean that a strike is forthcoming, but do empower the bargaining team to call a strike should negotiations not provide meaningful gains to members. The next step in the bargaining process is conciliation, in which a provincially appointed conciliation officer will meet with the parties.

Local 3906 will put the support of its members into action at the bargaining table and are committed to membership engagement throughout the process. Keep an eye out for our updates and additional bargaining support initiatives.

CUPE Local 3906 (Unit 1) represents approximately 2700 teaching assistants and research assistants (in lieu) at McMaster University.

Brad WalchukUncategorized

When: TODAY (SEPT. 23) at 12:00 PM (voting to continue until approx. 4:00 PM)
Where: CIBC Hall (3rd floor MUSC)
Bargaining updates
Election of scrutineers
Kicking off the strike vote! 
Including remarks by John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Janice Folk-Dawson of the OUWCC, and Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario.
*Please bring photo ID to confirm you are a Unit 1 Member.*
You can also cast your ballot between 9 AM and 5 PM at any of the following locations until Thursday:

  • SEPTEMBER 24: Thode Library & MUSC 1st floor entrance
  • SEPTEMBER 25: Thode Library & MUSC 1st floor entrance
  • SEPTEMBER 26: Mills Library & MUSC 1st floor entrance
REMEMBER: A successful strike vote does not mean there will be a strike. It simply authorizes the bargaining team to call a strike should negotiations fail. In other words, a strong “yes” vote puts the Union in the best possible position to secure a good deal without needing to call a strike. This is where the strength of collective bargaining is found!

For more information, please see the attached infographic or visit our Strike Vote FAQ.

In solidarity,

The Unit 1 Bargaining Team