The burden of tuition fees and student debt

Brad WalchukUncategorized

For decades in Canada, governments were the most important funders of post-secondary education. But over the past 30 years, that has changed.

To make up for the shortfall in revenue following funding cuts, universities and colleges have increased tuition fees for students. Over the past 30 years, tuition fees for undergraduates have doubled, even after accounting for inflation.

But tuition fees aren’t the only thing that have increased. Schools have also been dumping more “ancillary” fees on students – mandatory fees that are supposedly intended to cover things like health services, athletics, student associations, and in some cases, even graduation.

This backgrounder looks at what the consequences of this shift have been for students and graduates, including higher levels of student debt.

Learn more at

General Membership Meeting- Wednesday, July 24 | BSB 119 12:00PM

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Wednesday, July 24 | BSB 119
Open to all Members!
Lunch Provided (Vegan and Halal Options Available)
Childcare Reimbursement Available
Draw for Grocery Gift Card!

Let your Voice be Heard!

On the Agenda:

  • Announcement of changes to Bylaws
  • Bargaining Updates
  • Donation Requests
  • Information on upcoming Town Hall Meeting concerning Bill 124
  • Election of Delegates to CUPE National Convention

“Labor Unions are the leading force for democratization and progress.” – Noam Chomsky

Unit 1 Bargaining Update

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Your Unit 1 bargaining team had spent quite a few days in June bargaining with McMaster. At the moment, the Employer appears committed to severely limiting improvements to our contract based on the prospect of Doug Ford’s Bill 124. Given the pressure we are facing from the Employer’s Bargaining Team, McMaster’s Board of Governors, and the provincial government, we need your support now more than ever.

CUPE 3906 Bargaining Bulletin #1 — Unit 1: TAs and RAs (in lieu)

Bill 124

cupe3906vpPolitical Action, Postings, Unit 1 Bargaining, Unit 3 Bargaining

You have likely heard a lot about Bill 124 and its effect on Units 1 and 3’s bargaining. We at CUPE 3906 want to make sure our members are informed about the challenges that we and public sector workers across Ontario face.

What is Bill 124?

Bill 124 was proposed by Doug Ford’s government on June 5, 2019 to the Ontario Legislative Assembly.  If passed, the bill imposes a series of 3-year “moderation periods” that limit compensation and salary increases to 1% per year for affected workers.  “Compensation” is defined very broadly in the bill, and some interpret it to mean any increased cost to the Employer (e.g., for our units, benefits, increased hours of work, and, in our Employer’s interpretation, additional paid training, and even statutory deductions like CPP and EI).

The bill proposes that the government will enforce the 1% compensation limitations by reviewing any Collective Agreements or Arbitrated Settlements that are negotiated after June 5, 2019.  If the Agreements do not meet the government’s cap, the parties (i.e., the Union and the Employer) will be forced to renegotiate the agreement until it meets the government’s limitations (even though the parties already reached agreement independent of the government’s interference).

According to the bill, Employers and Unions are not allowed to negotiate increases to make up for the moderation periods once the 3 years have passed.

Who is impacted by Bill 124?

Many, many public sector workers would be directly impacted by the proposed bill.  Workers in hospitals, schools, non-profit long-term care homes, power workers, crown corporations, children’s aid societies, universities, colleges and more would be subject to this legislation.  Municipal and certain for-profit institutions are excluded.

Every worker in Ontario, however, would be indirectly impacted by this bill because it proposes to infringe on basic constitutional rights to free collective bargaining.

Why should I care about Bill 124?

Not only does Bill 124 restrict workers’ abilities to negotiate contracts that allow for increases that at the very least keep up with increases to the costs of living, it also restricts workers’ fundamental constitutional rights to free collective bargaining under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Workers—and employers—currently have the right to negotiate collective agreements that address workers’ needs and priorities.  If either side—the workers or the employer—feel that negotiations have ground to a halt, they can resort to a strike or a lockout according to the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

Bill 124 proposes to interfere with free collective bargaining by dictating what the kind and extent of gains can and cannot be negotiated.  Even if the Union and the Employer agree to a Collective Agreement that both parties think is fair, the government will have the power to tear up the agreement and make the parties start the negotiation process again if the Agreement doesn’t fit the demands of Bill 124.

If workers do not like the Agreement that the government imposes, their only legal recourse under the Ontario Labour Relations Act—the right to strike—becomes meaningless.  Similarly, employers are not free to bargain above the maximum increases according to the bill, even if they think their workers should get a better deal.

What can I do about Bill 124?

It’s important to realize that Bill 124 is, at present, just a Bill.  This means that it is not yet law.  With enough pressure from the public, it can be amended or struck down entirely.

Since Bill 124 is not law, Employers such as McMaster University are still free to negotiate Collective Agreements that they think are fair for their Employees.  We invited the Employer to join us in a campaign to defend free collective bargaining at McMaster University and throughout Ontario, but the McMaster Administration declined this offer.  It’s therefore up to workers, students, and community members to demand that the Employer negotiates according to what is currently lawful and right according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Workers, students and community members need to put pressure on the Ford government to drop Bill 124 before parliament reconvenes at the end of October, 2019.  Bill 124 is not law, and there’s still time to make sure it never becomes law.

Join our Bargaining Support Team or our Political Action Committee to get involved in the fight back.

Wanted: Benefits Committee Members

Brad WalchukUncategorized

We are actively looking for new members for our Benefits Committee. This committee plays an important role in helping to determine the level of benefits that the local administers, and also approves Professional Development Applications. The time commitment is minimal, and our local cannot function without an active committee.

If you’re a 3906 member interested in being on the committee, please let us know.

CUPE 3906 Solidarity Statement on Grassy Narrows

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The Executive of CUPE 3906 openly condemns the Canadian federal government’s failure to meaningfully address the mercury crisis that has impacted the community of Grassy Narrows First Nation for more than fifty years. The government of Canada has long eschewed its responsibility and broken many promises to address the consequences of the community’s long-term exposure to toxic levels of mercury, which started when a paper mill in Dryden, Ontario was allowed to begin contaminating the Wabigoon River. Recent studies have even shown signs of congenital mercury poisoning in infants and young children.

It is incumbent upon the federal government, the leader of which campaigned on the importance of fostering “nation-to-nation” relationships with Indigenous peoples, to rectify this incredible injustice in ways deemed suitable by the community itself. CUPE 3906 thus endorses the following demands being made by Grassy Narrows community members: (1) Compensation for everyone in Grassy Narrows for the ongoing
mercury crisis, and (2) That the government of Canada put the full cost of building and operating a Mercury Home in Grassy Narrows into a trust so that the commitment is fulfilled regardless of who gets elected this October.

These demands will be central to River Run 2019: Walk With Grassy Narrows for Mercury Justice, wherein members of the community will be in Toronto from June 17 to 22 to lead several events and raise public awareness about their struggle for environmental justice, culminating in a large march to Queen’s Park on June 20 at noon.

CUPE 3906’s Political Action Committee will provide $300 in financial support and send a delegation of members to Toronto in order to help ensure that the River Run is a success and receives the attention it deserves. We also call on other organizations and associations like ours to do the same.

An original signed copy of the letter can be found by clicking here

CUPE 3906 Statement on Racial Profiling at Congress

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The Executive Committee, Equity Action Committee, and Political Action Committee of CUPE Local 3906 have released the following joint statement on the recent racial profiling of Shelby McPhee of the Black Canadian Studies Association that occurred recently at Congress.

It reads, in part “We in CUPE 3906 stand in solidarity with Shelby McPhee and the BCSA in calling upon the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences to meet all four of the BCSA’s demands. We would also implore other organizations and associations like ours to voice their support of Mr. McPhee, the BCSA, and all other members of the academy who not only experience anti-Blackness on a regular basis, but also continue to do the difficult work of dismantling the structures of anti-Blackness that evidently pervade academia to this day.”

The full statement can be found by clicking here.