Announcement from the Benefits Committee re: technology claims

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The Benefits Committee met during the last week of August and reviewed many U2 applications. The Committee decided not to renew technology funds unless the employer is willing to pay. There are many members who continuously request technology reimbursement for online teaching, and while the U2 Bargaining Team did try to incorporate a technology fund into the collective agreement that is currently under negotiation, this idea was not supported by the Employer. As such, and given that the the the professional development fund is designated for professional development activities only, the Benefits Committee is unable to make any exceptions during this difficult time. The Committee will continue accepting online applications, but please note that the volume of emails received is higher than usual. We ask that you allow at least 48 hours for the Benefits Officer to respond to any inquiries.

Unit 2 Social and Bargaining Support Meeting

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Drop by on Zoom on Monday, September 21, at 6:00 pm for some U2-specific updates from CUPE 3906. We’ll walk you through aspects of the collective agreement currently under negotiation, and discuss your rights and benefits as sessionals and hourly-paid music faculty. A brief update will be provided about what’s been going on in collective bargaining following our President’s message to members on August 31, 2020. You can be new to the union, or an old hat – it doesn’t matter. The key thing is to get to know each other as members and build solidarity for the sake of our teaching (in this virtual university) and for our future (in terms of what collective rights we might or might not achieve for the next two to three years). Let’s build strength in our employment! Bring your questions for our Unit 2 Chief Steward, Sylvia. All members are welcome to attend this meeting in support of Unit 2. The meeting can be accessed using this link. The meeting ID and password can be obtained by emailing 

Update on the Employer’s efforts to exclude out-of-province TAs

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We continue to pursue legal recourse for those TAs and RAs (in lieu of TAs) who are working out-of-province and are therefore being excluded from the Union by the Employer. It is important to note that TAs and RAs (in lieu of TAs) who are working out-of-province should not decline any work they wish to take because of this ongoing dispute. Whether or not a TA accepts or declines work that the Employer excludes from the Bargaining Unit by virtue of their out-of-province location does not impact the dispute. It does not hinder or help the Union’s (or the Employer’s) position, so this decision should not be based on any worry that one’s actions will negatively or positively impact the situation.

We are continuing to pursue other options behind the scenes, but in the meantime we would encourage those of you who haven’t already to sign and share this letter telling McMaster to stop excluding out-of-province TAs from the bargaining unit. Expect to hear more updates soon

Committee Meeting Updates

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The Political Action Committee will be meeting via Zoom on Thursday, September 24th, at 2:00 pm to discuss causes and events for donations, and other ideas for the upcoming year. Any and all CUPE 3906 members are welcome to join as we’re always looking for member-driven input and direction for our work. The Committee is also looking for two new co-Chairs for the year. Anyone interested in co-chairing is highly encouraged to join the September meeting, or, if you cannot make it, reach out to The meeting can be accessed using this link and the ID and passcode can be access by contacting
Committee signups: now online!
Interested in social, economic, or environmental justice? Want to know more about union business and connect with your fellow workers? Join one or more of our many committees or working groups! This year, signing up is easier than ever. Simply complete this form by indicating which groups are of interest to you, and wait for your first meeting to be announced via email. We look forward to getting to know you all!

Supporting Out of Province TAs

Brad WalchukUncategorized

As many of you know, McMaster has conveyed their unwillingness to recognize out-of-province TAs as Unit 1 members even though online course and tutorial delivery have become standard in the context of COVID-19. Of course, this is despite the fact that it was them who advised students and non-essential workers to stay away from campus in the first place. We are continuing to pursue all available legal avenues and other options, but in the meantime, we would ask that you show your support in at least one of the following ways:

  • If you have not already, please sign and share this form letter demanding that McMaster sign our LOU.
  • If you know of any TAs who are set to lose their union membership because of McMaster’s actions, please encourage them to share their stories on social media, and be sure to tag and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to help amplify the message.
  • Use your own social media to call attention to the fact that McMaster is stripping many TAs of access to free mental health counselling, multiple benefits funds, secure wages, and protections against unfair firing, discrimination, and harassment – all in the middle of a pandemic. Use the hashtag #BetterMac so we know how to find you.
  • If you know incoming out-of-province Teaching Assistants who are not yet receiving our communications, please share this information with them and encourage them to get in touch with us via email.

Please be on the lookout for further updates and calls to action as this situation continues to evolve. Your support – and that of the community – will be crucial to winning this fight.

FREE CUPE 3906 Face Masks (non-medical)

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Who wouldn’t want to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while also supporting their union?! We have a number of these reusable, non-medical masks available for FREE to CUPE 3906 members. No need to worry about picking yours up from campus; we can send it in the mail. Complete our Face Mask Request Form to reserve your CUPE 3906 face mask while quantities last!

**IMPORTANT: Unit 1 Dental Plan Opt Out Information**

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The following message applies to you and please pass this to fellow TAs in your departments if: a) you hold an undergraduate degree; and b) you hold a contract to work as a Unit 1 member in the Fall 2020 term.
Please note that our dental opt-out forms and family dental enrollment forms are now available on our website at
The dental opt-out and family dental coverage enrollment deadline for Unit 1 members working in the Fall 2020 term is September 25, 2020.
Please click on the link above for important information about the dental opt out and family dental enrollment processes and links to our forms.  You must complete the dental opt-out/family dental enrollment forms every academic year if you wish your opt-out/family enrollment to remain in effect.  (Otherwise, you will default to single coverage.  Members who wish to enroll in single coverage need not take any action.)
We are currently accepting forms submitted via email to given the pandemic office closure.
Please address all questions to our Administrative Coordinator at

Orientation Week- The Problems Have Already Started

Brad WalchukUncategorized

It’s orientation week! Have you heard? McMaster University is telling graduate student TAs living outside of Ontario they are not eligible for membership in CUPE3906! Being excluded from the union puts these TAs at risk of losing important employee protections and benefits all TAs normally rely on. Click here to tell McMaster stop attacking TAs during a pandemic!!
Have you also heard our Sessional Instructors and Unit 2 hourly paid music faculty have not received a meaningful offer from McMaster for a new contract at the bargaining table?
During this critical time for members of CUPE3906, we’ll be releasing weekly cartoons on our media channels highlighting issues important to the union as we begin the fall semester. Our first comic is about how the employer is threatening to take away benefits and rights from out-of-province TAs.
We want to hear from you as we roll out this weekly comic series examining the realities of McMaster education workers during campus closure amid a pandemic: What challenges both routine and new, do educational workers now face? We’re looking for a hashtag to use with this campaign. We came up with #direworld and #sessionalequality. But we think you can do better than that.
We’re also looking for cartoon submissions from members on topics related to the realities of educational work at McMaster. Have ideas? Email! The winning two cartoon submissions and the winning two hashtags will be used in our social media campaign, and will earn those members a $25 gift card! Start your doodling and hashtagging now!
No photo description available.

Unit 2 (Sessionals) Bargaining Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

After two weeks of negotiations with our Employer, the McMaster University Administration, we are disappointed to inform you that the parties have reached an impasse and we are seeking both the assistance of a government-appointed Conciliation Officer and a strike vote from our Unit 2 members.

The Union and the Employer made some progress at the table over the past few sessions.  For instance, we removed conditions that would limit members to teach two courses per term, and made some gains to supplemental fees for large classes.

Unfortunately, that progress was cut short by a few fundamental disagreements:

-improvements to job security and transparency in hiring.  Job security was a top priority for members according to our survey.  We continue to propose improvements to the existing first consideration appointment system and to transparent and fair hiring processes, but the Employer is not agreeable to any substantive changes.

-money.  The Employer states that it is limited to a 1% increase to wages and benefits due to the regressive legislation put forward by the Ford Conservatives last fall (Bill 124).  Paid training is not contemplated by the legislation, however, and we believe that members should receive extra compensation for health and safety training and/or professional training in addition to normal course preparation and delivery.  This is an opportunity for the Employer to offer gains outside of the restrictions of the legislation, and we think our members are worth it.

-proration of 3-unit courses.  The Employer has included a proposal that would allow members in one of our departments (MELD) to be paid 1/3rd of the value of a 3-unit course by claiming to have altered the workload of the course to 1/3rd of the workload of a “regular” 3-unit course.  This is an attack on our members, and we are concerned that, if we agree to this language, the Employer would be permitted to reduce compensation in any of our 3- or 6-unit courses.  The Employer also wants the Union to withdraw outstanding grievances on proration and job security as a condition of the agreement.

-technological support.  Especially given the move to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members require additional technological support for the tools and resources they need.  The Employer is having difficulty finding ways of facilitating this (although the Union has proposed several options).

-3-year contract. Given the uncertainties created by the pandemic and current legislation (Bill 124), we had hoped the employer would agree to a two-year agreement. This would have allowed both sides to go back to the negotiating table at a time when things hopefully have stabilized and some uncertainties resolved. However, the Employer is insisting on a three-year deal.

-Preventing job loss.  The Union requested that the Employer commit to not reducing the number of jobs as a result of any move to online teaching because of the pandemic (e.g., increase the student to instructor ratio to create online, “mega” classes).  The Employer did not agree to commit to this, and has already done this in at least one department.

-Guidelines on reasonable hours of work.  The Union proposed language to make sure that members were not required to provide instruction or student consultation between the hours of 10 P.M. and 8:30 A.M..  The Employer did not agree to this language.

More information about an impending strike vote and dates for conciliation will be forthcoming.

Please continue to check your email for information about your rights and your opportunities to be heard at meetings and consultations.

We remain open to meet with the Employer to arrive at a negotiated agreement.  This does not change in spite of our request for assistance from the membership and a Conciliation Officer.  We did not make this decision lightly, and we regret having to take this course of action given the pandemic situation.


Your Unit 2 Bargaining Committee

Important Information for Sessional Faculty (Unit 2) Dental Coverage Deadlines

Mary Ellen CampbellUncategorized

Dental opt-out forms and family dental enrollment forms for Sessional Faculty and Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty (Unit 2 members) for the 2020-2021 academic year are now available on our site.  The deadline to submit Unit 2 change of coverage forms is October 2nd, 2020.  Due to the office closure caused by the pandemic, please email a clear copy of your forms to

PLEASE CLICK HERE for important information about opting-out of dental coverage and enrolling in family dental coverage.

Please note that you must complete a change of coverage form (i.e., a dental opt-out form or a family dental enrollment form) and provide appropriate supporting documentation every academic year  if you wish your opt-out/family enrollment status to continue.   All members are automatically enrolled in single dental coverage every academic year (unless we receive a completed change of coverage form with appropriate supporting documentation).

If you are not teaching until the Winter 2021 (or the Spring/Summer 2021 term), you can submit these forms in the first 30 days of your employment in those terms.



For more information on our Unit 2 Dental Plan, please visit