CUPE Supports Locked out USWA 1005 workers

Nancy MacBainNews, Political Action

CUPE 3906 members with 1005 President Rolf Gerstenberger and CUPE National President Paul Moist - photo by Greg Taylor

USWA Local 1005 was locked out on November 7th by the Amercian-owned U.S. Steel Canada Group after refusing to agree to pension changes. U.S. Steel wants to have all new hires enroll in a defined contributions pension plan rather than the current defined benefits plan. It also wants to remove indexing for all current and future retirees under the existing defined benefits pension.

On January 4th a delegation of CUPE members, including representatives from 3906, joined the picket lines for a presentation of a $10,000 donation by Paul Moist, President of CUPE National. The CUPE 3906 Executive has donated $500, the maximum allowed in the bylaws.

The OFL, CLC, USW Local 1005 and Hamilton and District Labour Council are calling for a massive province-wide mobilization to stop U.S. Steel and other foreign-owned companies from wrecking our communities and stealing our futures.

A provincial Day of Action has been called for
January 29th
Hamilton City Hall

For those who opted out of the GSA Dental Plan

Nancy MacBainNews

Dear New Unit 1 Members:It has come to our attention that some new CUPE 3906 members did not receive clear information about which dental plan they qualified for during the September 2010 opt out period.  As a result, some new members opted out of the GSA plan in error. We are thus extending the opportunity to members who meet the following criteria to opt out of the CUPE dental plan for until January 11, 2011:

  1. You became a CUPE 3906 member for the first time in September 2010
  2. You have a TAship or RAship in lieu of 130 hours or more in the 2010-11 academic year (in other words: you qualify for the CUPE plan, not the GSA plan)
  3. You opted out of the GSA dental plan in error
If you would fit the above criteria and would like to opt out of the CUPE dental plan, you will need to provide CUPE with the following information by January 12, 2011:
  1. A completed opt out form (available on the CUPE website or in the CUPE office)
  2. Appropriate proof of alternate dental coverage. Please note our requirements differ from the GSA’s requirements.  You must provide a document from your insurance company  which clearly shows that you yourself are entitled to benefits. The document must have your actual name on it, not your parent’s or spouse’s name. Insurance cards, claims histories, schedules of benefits and letters from the insurance company have been used as proof of coverage in the past.
  3. Proof that you became a new member this September. Such proof might include a copy of your letter of acceptance or a letter from your department.
  4. The email confirmation generated when you opted out of the GSA dental plan (or other proof that you opted out of the GSA plan).
Opt out forms and accompanying documentation should be submitted to the CUPE 3906 office in the basement of Wentworth Hall by January 11, 2011 at noon. Please use the drop box if the office is not open.
Late application will not be accepted. There will be no exceptions. You may want to make a copy of your opt out form and documentation for your own records.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your eligibility for this opt out or the history of this issue.
Rebecca Strung
Benefits & Advocacy Officer

Your Unit 1 Benefits Are Changing

Maria MustafaGeneral

Unit 1 members approved a new Unit 1 Benefits Model at the December General Membership meeting.  The new benefits model will take effect on January 1, 2011.

Please read this annoucement carefully.  The new Unit 1 benefits model will have a significant impact on benefits claims procedures and, depending on when you make your claim, the amount of money you may be entitled to receive.

NOTE: These changes DO NOT affect your Unit 1 Dental Benefits


Non-Dental benefits come from a $150,000 benefits fund, which the Employer is mandated to provide us with under the terms of our collective agreement.

Under our current benefits model, individuals are entitled to a maximum of $250/two years for vision care, $100/year for UHIP, and $100/year for childcare.  Claims are processed throughout the academic year on a first come, first serve basis.  Members always receive the maximum amount to which they are entitled, regardless of the amount of money remaining in the benefits fund.

Under the new benefits model, individual entitlements remain the same.  Total benefits expenditures for Vision and UHIP will be capped at $90,000 and $30,000 respectively during the regular academic year (September – April) OR until the cap is reached (whichever comes first).  A small amount of money ($20,000 for Vision; $5,000 for UHIP) will be held back for the summer months.

During the regular academic year (or until the cap is reached), Vision and UHIP claims will be processed on a first come, first serve basis.  Members will receive the maximum amount to which they are entitled.  During the summer months (or after the cap is reached), all claims are processed and reimbursed at the end of the semester.  Individual reimbursements will depend on how much money is left in the benefits fund. In other words, members who claim during the summer months will have their maximum entitlement reduced in years with high benefits expenditures. In years with low benefits expenditures, the maximum entitlement will not change during the summer months.

Childcare benefit expenses are negligible at present and will not be subject to a cap.

The maximum individual reimbursement is the lesser of the remaining funds divided by the number of claims and the current benefit ($250 for Vision; $100 for UHIP).


Entitlement: The maximum entitlement remains $250 / two years.
Claims Procedure: Vision Care claims are processed on a first come first serve basis during the Fall and Winter terms (or until expenditures reach the $90,000 cap).During this period, the amount of money applied for is the amount members will receive.
During the Summer terms (or after the $90,000 cap is reached), vision care claims are held until the end of the term. The maximum amount members receive depends on how much money is left in the Vision care fund. In some years, members will still be entitled to claim the maximum. In other years, members may be entitled to less than $250.

Entitlement: The maximum entitlement remains $100/ year.
Claims Procedure:  UHIP claims are processed on a first come first serve basis during the Fall and Winter terms (or until expenditures reach the $30,000 cap).During this period, the amount of money applied for is the amount members will receive.
During the Summer terms (or after the $30,000 cap is reached), UHIP claims are held until the end of the term. The maximum amount members receive depends on how much money is left in the Vision care fund. In some years, members will still be entitled to $100, In other years, members may be entitled to less than $100.

Entitlement: The maximum entitlement remains $100/ year.
Claims procedure
: Childcare claims are processed on a first come, first serve basis throughout the academic year.


Over the past five years, Unit 1 benefits expenditures have frequently exceeded the amount of money the Employer is obligated to provide for benefits under the collective agreement.We attempted to negotiate a reasonable increase to benefits funds during the last round of bargaining, but the Employer refused to contribute any new money to benefits—even after Unit 1 members went on strike.

After a week on strike, in November 2009 a slim majority of Unit 1 members voted to accept a collective agreement that did not include any new money for benefits. During the negotiation process, the bargaining team repeatedly informed Unit 1 members that: a) their benefits funds were in deficit and b) ratification of this agreement would result in benefits cuts.

The upcoming changes to Unit 1 benefits are necessary to restore the fiscal health of our over-stretched benefits funds in the absence of any new money for benefits from the Employer.


The benefits committee investigated several ways of achieving an overall reduction in Unit 1 benefits expenditures. We distilled our research down into three different benefits reduction models, which we brought to the membership for discussion at the October and December GMMs.One of these models was a straight reduction to individual benefits entitlements. The other two were capped distribution models. After a thorough discussion, the membership voted to accept the capped distribution model presented here.

Interested members can read the minutes of this discussion at the next General Membership Meeting.

Monday, Dec. 6 Memorial for Montreal Massacre and Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

Maria MustafaEquity

The McMaster University Anti-Violence Network and other organizations including the Equity Action Committee at CUPE 3906 have put together a memorial event for the McMaster community to mourn the loss of women who have died violently. The event will be held from 11-1:30 on Dec. 6, the 21st anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, but will also have a significant emphasis on linking the gender-based violence and racism and that has also been experienced by the hundreds (and probably thousands) of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The event will include a talk by Cheri Maracle and Shandra Spears Bombay about missing and murdered Indigenous women from 11-12. From 12-12:30 we will have a chance to mingle and make connections in addition to having advocacy and support information booths, and from 12:30-1:30 there will be a memorial service. All of this will take place in Convocation Hall, UH 213.

Gender-based violence is alive and well in our society, knows no boundaries of race or class, and touches the lives of an estimated 1 in 4 women. Look around you—that’s a lot of people.

Please come to remember with us and to hope and advocate with us. You are welcome to come for some or all of the event—we know that it will conflict with classes. And if you can’t make it at all, there will also be an event hosted by the Women’s Centre of Hamilton the evening of the 6th from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Worker’s Arts and Heritage Centre, 51 Stuart St., Hamilton. For more information on this event, contact 905-522-0127.

And if you have any questions or you need some support, please get in touch with us at


U.S. Steel Tries to Divide Generations as Lockout in Ontario Targets Pensions

Nancy MacBainNews, Political Action

Photo from LaborNotes, by Nancy Hutchison, USW

By Mischa Gaus
LaborNotesNovember 29, 2010

U.S. Steel is trying to drive a wedge between generations, locking out steelworkers in Hamilton, Ontario, when union negotiators would not take a deal that sold out past and future workers.

Steelworkers Local 1005 refused to bring a contract back to its 900 members that would have ended cost-of-living increases for 9,000 pensioners and dumped future workers into a shaky 401(k)-style retirement plan.

Current workers, meanwhile, were presented with a deal that would weaken their supplemental unemployment benefit, a key to survival for workers who have been idled for much of the last two years as steel demand dwindled. At the last minute the company backed down on concessions aimed at current workers, trying to convince them to forget about others.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Human Rights in the Aftermath of the G20 Toronto Summit

Nancy MacBainNews, Political Action

Wednesday, November 25, 7:30pm
Health Sciences Building Room 1A5
McMaster University
Free Event – Donations Welcome!


Panel Discussion with Keynote Speakers:
• Movement Defence Committee, leading the legal defence of G20 protestors.
• Julian Ichim, falsely accused as one of the so-called G20 conspirators.

Including presentations by local organizations active against the G20, including United Steelworkers Local 1005 & the Hamilton Coalition Against the G20.

General Membership Meeting – Oct 20th at 5:30

Nancy MacBainNews

The next General Membership Meeting will take place

Wednesday, October 20th
in MDCL 3020 (follow the signs)

Refreshments will be provided, and childcare costs can be reimbursed for the meeting.

Agenda items include:

  • Benefits Committee presents different models for Unit 1 Benefits (includes vote)
  • Elections – Chief Steward Units 2 & 3, Unit 2 Bargaining Team, Health & Safety Officer, Joint Health & Safety Rep for Sciences
  • Unit 2 Bargaining Update
  • Discussion on local policy for electoral endorsements

Emergency SEIU Solidarity Rally

Nancy MacBainNews

There will be an emergency solidarity rally for SEIU workers at McMaster

Tuesday, Oct 12th
Outside Gilmour Hall/Student Centre

Please come out and show your support for our sisters and brothers in SEIU as the clock ticks down towards a strike/lockout deadline.