Annual General Meeting 2020: Elections to be hosted online starting May 28 @ 12 PM & closing May 29 @ 12 PM

Brad WalchukUncategorized

As you likely know by now, the current circumstances of COVID-19 require that this year’s Annual General Meeting (wherein our Executive Committee is elected by the membership) be hosted online. Nominations are now open, and will close May 25 at 5 PM. Elections will then be open from 12 PM on May 28 to 12 PM on May 29.

To learn more about the elections process, and how to nominate yourself or a fellow member, click here.

Reminder about the Unit 2 Bargaining Team Alternate election

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Sessionals, earlier this week, you were notified via email of an upcoming election for the position of Alternate on the Unit 2 Bargaining Team. We’d like to remind you that nominations close at 5 PM this Monday, May 18th. For more information on the position of Bargaining Team Alternate, and how to nominate yourself or a fellow Unit 2 member, read the full announcement here.

Survey by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) are hoping to to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on all types of workers from across the  province. OHCOW is a great organization that operates with the goal of improving the health of working people by providing clinical and prevention services, including research. The current survey is being offered in collaboration with health and safety union representatives as well as researchers from Duke University and the Institute of Work and Health. That being said, we would strongly encourage all of our members to not only participate in this survey, but also to share it widely within their personal and professional networks. You can find it here.

Unit 2 (Sessionals) Spring/Summer Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

IMPORTANT UPDATE for Sessional Faculty Working in the Spring/Summer 2020 Term: May 04, 2020

If you are a Sessional Faculty or Hourly Rated Sessional Faculty Member working in the spring/summer 2020 term (but did NOT work in the Fall 2019 or Winter 2020 term) and you wish to enroll your family in family dental coverage or opt out of the CUPE 3906 dental coverage, please complete the change of coverage forms (below, same forms for fall/winter change of coverage) and email them with any required supporting documentation to:  The deadline to submit these change of coverage forms is May 18, 2020.

You can find the opt-out form, family enrollment form, and other information and forms here.

CUPE 3906 Announces our Gender Affirmation Fund

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Finally, some good news! We are pleased to announce that CUPE 3906’s first-ever Gender Affirmation Fund is officially up and running. Unit 1 members (TAs and RAs in-lieu) who identify as Two Spirit, trans, or nonbinary can now be reimbursed for a wide array of costs associated with their gender affirmation, to a maximum of $1,250 per year and a lifetime cap of $2,500. To read more about the Gender Affirmation Fund, including eligibility criteria and instructions on how to submit a claim, click here.

We’d like to thank our sister Locals like CUPE 3902 and CUPE 4600, who have led the charge in providing benefits like these to academic workers at U of T and Carleton, respectively. Their own Trans Funds served as great examples after which we could model our own Gender Affirmation Fund. Many thanks, also, to the trans and nonbinary members of CUPE 3906 who assisted in the creation of this fund and the relevant application materials. Your input has been invaluable to ensuring that the Gender Affirmation Fund addresses the needs of those for whom this benefit is intended.

CERB Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We’d like to send an important update to our previous email about your potential eligibility for the CERB. At first, it appeared that there would be some internal checks, much like EI, where if you didn’t meet criteria that was, at best, unclear to begin with, you’d be denied. It now seems like a) almost everyone is being approved but despite this, b) many TAs shouldn’t actually qualify. Unfortunately, these programs are being rolled out in real time and limited parameters are being provided. We should also note that the criteria of “seasonal worker” is being applied in an especially narrow way.

CUPE National has provided some helpful updates on eligibility criteria through their Canada Emergency Response Benefit Q & A, noting that “Job loss or reduction of work hours must be related to COVID-19 and must have happened on or after March 15. Coverage also extends to workers who have received at least one week of EI benefits after December 29, 2019. This means students who are unable to find a summer job, seasonal workers who have not received EI benefits after December 29, 2019, and workers who were already unemployed and without EI benefits are not eligible for the CERB.” Thus, unfortunately, it would appear as though many of our members – particularly TAs and RAs in-lieu who already did not have spring/summer contracts pre-COVID – still are not eligible for the CERB. At this point, we are trying to determine the consequences of applying for and receiving the CERB when you do not, in fact, meet the eligibility criteria. For now, our recommendation to those who already applied for the CERB but are likely to be counted as ineligible per the above criteria is to avoid spending any CERB funds received, in case the federal government chooses to verify eligibility at a later date and recoup any funds dispensed to those who were not, in fact, eligible. We will continue to provide you with updates on this matter as we receive them.

To reiterate an earlier disclaimer: We are in no position to advocate or negotiate on your behalf in any way as it relates to the CERB and other COVID-19 governmental benefits. The distribution of any government benefit typically depends on highly individual information to which your Union is not privy, meaning that whether or not you qualify for the CERB will likely depend on several additional factors unrelated to your employment as a TA or RA in-lieu.

On a related note, the Canadian Labour Congress will be holding a live webinar on the CERB and EI in the context of COVID-19 TODAY at 1:00 PM EST. We would strongly encourage our members to attend, particularly if you are still wondering about your potential eligibility for emergency benefits in the coming months.

If you have any additional questions regarding the CERB, or about your employment in the context of COVID-19 more generally, please visit our COVID-19 Resources and Information Page. McMaster University has also been providing regular updates, which can be found here. Should you have further questions not yet addressed in these resources and prior communications, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or Responses may be delayed due to the high volume of emails we are receiving on a daily basis, and the need to prioritize particularly urgent situations. We are a small team of individuals servicing thousands of members, so your patience is much appreciated.

Parking Updates for Sessional Faculty

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Parking have confirmed that employees paying by payroll deductions had their deductions stopped on April 5 and will have them “…automatically restarted when we return to normal business on campus.” Employees that prepaid for parking by a method other than payroll deductions will have the month of April and any other subsequent months while the University remains closed, credited to their parking account.

Sessional Faculty have the following options available:

  1. They can request to have their deductions stopped sooner and restart later than other employees due to nature of temporary or contract work. The Sessional can email Parking Services with their preferred start and restart dates (if known).
  2. If the Sessional is paying parking by another method (not pay deduction) of payment and are not returning to work, Parking Services will issue a refund cheque as the credit on parking account will not apply in these cases.

Sessional Faculty End-of-Term Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Congratulations on (almost) reaching the end of another term – and quite possibly the most memorable yet! You’ll soon be there. We hope that you’re staying well in light of the current pandemic. Before the term comes to an end, we wanted to provide some updates that might be useful. This message contains important information about the following:

  • Professional Development Fund (PDF) Deadline Extension
  • Post-Contract Work
  • Large Class Supplemental Fee

Professional Development Fund (PDF) Deadline Extension

The deadline for Unit 2 Professional Development Fund applications was previously April 7th; however, in light of current circumstances, our Benefits Officer has extended this deadline to 5:00 PM on April 17th. We hope that this added flexibility can provide our members with some relief in these difficult times. The application form can be found herePlease note that electronic submissions are now preferred and should be sent to in a single document. Any questions should also be sent to

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 $66.70/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.

Large Class Supplemental Fee

We have also heard that most 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 has been paid on April 24th. If the payment is not processed by the end of this week, it will not make the April 24th pay and will come at a later date. This could adversely impact EI and CERB entitlement, so please follow-up with you administrator this week and let us know if there are any issues.

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

CUPE 3906 now hiring for the position of Member Mobilizer Book-Off (Casual)


Dear Members,

As you may already know, our Unit 2 members (Sessional Instructors, Hourly-Rated Sessional Music Faculty, and MELD Sessional Instructors) are entering collective bargaining this summer, with their contract expiring on August 31st.

With every round of collective bargaining comes the need for member mobilization, which requires a lot of additional work extending outreach to members and connecting with them one-to-one, in small groups, and in larger settings. In the past, the local has used external hires to take on a lot of this work. This year, we would like to first extend the opportunity to our members.

This position will be treated as a book-off, meaning it will be compensated at the rate of a graduate TA appointment ($44.07 per hour). Accordingly, the position will come with a general expectation of approximately 10hrs/week of work, understanding that this will fluctuate from week-to-week based on where we are in the bargaining process. Also, members may be eligible to be booked off from their regular employment duties where such Collective Agreement provisions apply. We expect the contract to end at the time that members ratify a new agreement.

This book-off will be open only to CUPE 3906 Members. Experience as a Unit 2 member (or sessional faculty elsewhere) will be considered an asset, though not a requirement. Unit 1 members who hold TA/RA in lieu contracts simultaneously with this one may be able to substitute this contract for their Unit 1 work.

Other relevant experience in bargaining, mobilizing/organizing, and outreach would be valuable for this position. Under the current circumstances, a willingness and ability to conduct telephone canvassing and electronic outreach (including via Zoom, Skype, or equivalent) is specifically needed.

For a complete description of the position and its duties, as well as instructions on how to apply, click here.

In solidarity,

The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee

Online teaching as Sessional Faculty in the context of COVID-19

Brad WalchukUncategorized

As you have likely heard by now, the spring semester will be online, and, barring some miraculous change in the next week or so, so too will the summer semester. The start dates for each will remain the same. We’ve had many productive discussions with the employer and believe that those who have already been hired will be given every opportunity to succeed and teach. What does this mean for sessionals?

The employer is aware that “The Employer will not, without training, require an employee to use technological skills other than those agreed to at the time of hiring” (Article 19.04 in your Collective Agreement). This bodes especially well folks who have already been appointed to a course that was not advertised as being online. The employer is also aware that “When an employee is required to attend or otherwise completes mandatory employment related training that has not been identified in the Letter of Appointment, compensation for such training shall be paid at the “Post Contract Work” rate, in accordance with Article 15.05(a)” (19.03b). The current rate of this training is $66.70 per hour.
All subsequent postings for the spring/summer will reference the course being online and that need to complete training. If such training is required and advertised, it is not compensated at the additional rate.
It’s unclear how much time will be allocated, but training is being done through MacPherson, and their training is both helpful and thorough in our experience. There is also some flexibility in terms of how technology can be incorporated (i.e. WebEx, Zoom, Echo360, A2L etc). The employer recognizes that these classes being housed online is both temporary and represents a quick turnaround in terms of preparation and execution. The expectation is that you’re simply to take your material and put in online – a sort of virtual classroom, if you will. This is different from, and much less labour intensive than, creating and developing a fully online class. Further, you will not need to create additional digital learning to supplement the existing material you have.
People who have been offered work to teach in the spring/summer and were unaware that the work would be online and elected to decline it due to the class now being online will be offered a $1000 cancellation fee. There is language in our Collective Agreement (Article 12.13) that speaks to your seniority and entitlement to First Consideration appointments in the event that you choose to decline an appointment.  Please contact us if you have any questions about your seniority and entitlement to future courses if you choose to decline an appointment.
Everyone teaching in the summer/spring online should also be provided a T2200. (Article 16.07). This also applies to ALL U2 members this term and will give a tax break for office usage, but should also apply to internet, etc. These are not due until Feb 28, 2021 (as they’re for the 2020 tax year). This is backburner stuff, but important that we’ve clarified.
The employer is also aware of Article 13.01, which states that “Best efforts will be made to provide reasonable access to the use of other facilities, services and equipment related to members’ teaching duties and responsibilities (e.g. McMaster University email, photocopying, audio/visual equipment, telephone, private/secure meeting locations) […] instructional materials related to the employee’s instructional responsibilities will be available on the same basis as faculty members in the academic unit.” These will need to be discussed with department chairs first to get an agreement on what is reasonable, and we can intervene if things aren’t to the members satisfaction. There seems to be a recognition that items such as a webcam, a microphone, secure high speed internet, etc. are necessities that you will need to be provided with at no cost. If you require such equipment/tools, please identify your needs to your supervisor (Department or Area Chair) as soon as possible.  Speaking to your supervisor is the correct and appropriate process for making such requests.  Should your department not make these available for you in a timely matter, please let us know.
On a related note, if you incurred any additional expenses related to your Winter 2020 course going online, please let us know as soon as possible as we believe that you are entitled to reimbursement. Examples would include webcams, microphones, computers, secure high speed internet, and other related expenses.
Finally, the wonderful staff at the Campus Bookstore have let us know they are here to help course instructors in this time of transition. In that regard, they have compiled a list of digital resources and other supports that you may want to access through their store while moving your course(s) online. You can find the list attached to this email.
If you have any additional questions about the spring/summer semester, please let us know by emailing
In solidarity,
The CUPE 3906 Executive Committee