CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Blog
~ your issues, your process, your contract ~

November 2, 2009 Update

Unit 1 Members,

We want to thank all of you who came out to the lines yesterday. You reminded the employer that your bargaining team speaks with hundreds of voices! The first day of a strike always needs a little finesse, as members get accustomed to taking job action; however, your support made the first day a great success!

Your bargaining team met with the employer this morning and with the hope the employer finally would join us in dialogue so we can work towards a new collective agreement that we can confidently recommend to the membership. We then spent the afternoon visiting the lines and joining the pickets while our strike coordinators met with a police liaison and campus security to address some overly rambunctious administrators we encountered earlier on in the morning. The issues have been addressed and tomorrow should be even better.

At 4:30 pm, we sat with the employer for 10 minutes at which time they told us that they would review our position document and meet us at the table tomorrow afternoon at 3:30. Although they have rebranded their current position as a best, and not final, offer, they have indicated that this may be the last time that we meet at the table. If you have not signed up for a shift, please drop by the strike office, or go to the lines and sign up there. We can’t wait those who have signed up for pickets tomorrow!

We are assessing our childcare needs, and hope to be able to provide accommodations for members soon. If you have children and need childcare accommodations then please contact Alex Diceanu at grievances@cupe3906.org
We have become aware that members are looking for alternative duties to perform. There are a number of different ways that you can contribute your skills to the effort. If you are interested in alternative duties please ask your picket captain. They have a list of positions that need to be filled outside of picketing (especially if you are currently doing double shifts).

Click here for a google map to our strike office

In Solidarity,

Your bargaining team, executive and strike support team

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123 Responses to “November 2, 2009 Update”

  1. At the meeting on Sunday we were told that there would be frequent General Membership Meetings throughout the strike. I would like to know when the next one is scheduled.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for your message. The executive committee is meeting this evening, and I believe that GMM will be announced once the details can be confirmed.

      Please watch e-mail and the blog for an announcement regarding the details shortly.

      Thanks for your message,

      Jesse

  2. When does the university’s offer expire (IIRC, they stated that it would be withdrawn on a certain date if it had not been accepted by that point)?

  3. ” they have rebranded their current position as a best, and not final, offer”

    Does that mean the next one may not offer as much?

    • I would think it means that they (the administration) believe it is the best one they have put on the table to date and that there might be another final (and hopefully improved) offer yet to come.

      • That’s the optimistic read. Could it not equally mean that any future offer will not be as good?

      • If we are going to get into a detailed analysis than I think it is important to take into consideration the spirit of the message as well the syntax. Our union is trying to inform us that the administration is back at the table (something they were previously not, as for early Saturday morning). By being back at the table it is a pretty distinct gesture that they are willing to continue negotiating (a stance I applaud them for). If they are willing to continue negotiating (even if what they said was recorded verbatim in the message above), why would they sit down again only to reiterate their inflexibility? So, while I agree that if you take the single phrase you quoted your interpretation is possible, I would like to point out that: 1) the union was posting this message to inform us that the administration is back at the table and showing some willingness to continue negotiations and 2) I highly doubt the phrase you quoted was written down verbatim based on what the employer said (so a pessimistic reading would be somewhat out of context with the message of hope it is meant to relay).

      • But, to be frank, it doesn’t sound as if your “B team” is willing to seriously negotiate. Offering to give up more demands for seniority in exchange for money at this stage of the game is laughable.

  4. I’m confused based on the tenses you’re using.

    You met with the employer this (Tuesday) morning and are meeting at 4:30 this afternoon and you already know what they’re going to say and then are meeting again tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3:30?

    Or did you meet yesterday morning and afternoon and are meeting again today?

  5. Hello all,

    After picketing for 2 days, in both the rain and the cold. After the rude shouts and general ignorance of some people I am uplifted by the number of people in support of our fight and our stance. Thank you fellow picketers and the bargaining team for your efforts. Hopefully we all see a reasonable solution in the near future!

    Off to get something HOT to drink!
    Erin

    • I’d like to echo Erin’s comment: I didn’t expect nearly as many people honking and waving in support, but it was very encouraging to see and hear! The number of vocal supporters /greatly/ outweighed the number of hecklers.

      • Even the undergrad students. If I was an undergrad, I would definitely hate TAs to make me walk more everyday. But fortunately some of them are supportive!

    • It isn’t ignorance Erin. It is their right to disagree with you. That’s the problem with union group-think. It perpetuates the belief that anyone who disagrees is ignorant and rude. Believe me, they think you are rude and ignorant. It cuts both ways. You are not wrong and neither are they. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and are permitted to vent their frustrations if they believe they are justified, just as you are permitted to picket if you feel it is justified.

      • Agreed, we should just be kind to everyone! They should also respect us as we do!

      • The ‘ignorance’ comment is in response to the people who shouted profanity at me, threatened me with umbrellas, tried to hit me with their car or told me I should “shoot myself later”. That isn’t venting … that’s ignorance. People who asked questions and opened lines of debate are welcome to discuss this with me, as some have and I appreciated their frustration. If you would like to voice concern or let me know of some alternatives I gladly welcome your thoughts and opinions. Just don’t tell me you wish me to “lose my home for this, and my family” or I “should shoot” myslef. That’s not honest disagreement at all. And not welcome or justified, if I have this right those threats are unwelcome as well.

        Erin

      • Erin, don’t get disappointed. Every where these people can be found and they’re not few. Just be patient and respect everyone!

        In Solidarity, V!

      • Erin, since you’re the only person here who has claimed to have been threatened with umbrellas or almost hit by cars I think you might be engaging in a bit of hyperbole here, and that does not help your cause in any way. Funny how nobody else has claimed this in any of the thousands of posts on this blog and have only complained about one administrator acting like an idiot. You are obviously exaggerating and, as I said, that does not help your cause.

      • Just to clarify – I am encouraged by our support thus far. I look forward to an early end but support the bargaining team. That’s the purpose of my original post.

        Thank you all
        Erin

      • Erin wasn’t engaging in hyperbole. I was at the sterling gates at the intersection side and saw all of these things. The guy with the umbrella was in her face and yelling at her and the picket captain about how stupid they were.

        Another driver got angry and almost backed over me to exit the block and go into the intersection. This same fellow told us we should be shot and he hopes we lose our homes, but the campus security gentleman who was standing there stopped the car and spoke to the guy and ‘calmed him down’.

        Its not everybody, we did get lots of kind people who waited patiently and gave us cheers as they drove by, but I wouldn’t say she’s exaggerating. Another guy got angry and drove his car through the intersection when he wasn’t instructed by the officer almost caused an accident. The officer stopped him and actually had to argue with him that what he did was wrong, and to put on his seatbelt.

        We never saw this administrator that everyone was talking about, so its pretty safe to say that we were in different places with different things happening.

        Let’s hope it doesn’t happen anymore, but these things definitely happened. Hopefully they’ll complain to the school and make this end sooner.

      • Sci TA, Erin and ones that are picketing:

        It’s awesome to see the support for the union and picketers taking a stand and creating awareness.

        Just testing the water here, but I was wondering what people might think about having some sort of a youtube video blog/channel that captures the supporting and threatening voices the picketers have seen? Just to show the good, bad, and the ugly of what’s out there for the ones on (and may only be able to perform, for now) alternative duties, as well as for everyone else?

  6. Just came back from the picket lines today–my second shift so far! The mood has been cheerful at the Sterling gates. We had many cars and students honk and wave at us in support. We’ve also been consistently being visited by members of other unions and some faculty members. The music has been helping us lift our spirits as well. So if you’re picketing tomorrow at Sterling, please bring some tunes on your iPod or mp3 player!

    Thanks bargaining team and fellow picketers! Try to remember that those on the negative side of the strike do not necessarily represent the views of the majority. Many of us fall somewhere in the middle. Keep your heads up!

  7. I agree! The cold weather hasn’t weakened our resolve. There was a lot of support today from the public and members of other unions. We’re staying strong and positive. Keep it up!

  8. Hi everyone,

    I’m just back from the lines too and am feeling optimistic. I spent my shifts over the last two days primarily as a greeter (handing out pamphlets to and chatting with drivers during the 5 minutes that they are between the barricades). And while certainly not everyone wanted to chat, I was invigorated by the number of supporters we have. And, most importantly, I had a chance to speak with some people who were against us, but when they had a chance to have their questions answered, became very supportive! Those were the highlights of my day! I want to send out a big thanks to people who approached our lines with lots of questions (and sometimes some hostility), but who had open minds and were willing to listen—you made my day.

    I also want to send a shout out to our amazing bargaining team—thanks so much for your hard work! All of you, I think, should start wearing tights and capes, because you’re superheroes, as far as I can tell!

    Here’s hoping the strike ends quickly and with a result that is good for everyone! But, as my sign yesterday said, I don’t want to strike, but I will. Let’s hope that today’s round of bargaining yields a fair contract that our bargaining team can recommend to us! And if it doesn’t, then I’ll see you all on the line tomorrow and every day after that until a fair deal is reached.

    In solidarity,

    Shar

  9. I want to second Malissa’s comment! I’m inspired by the support, patience, and courtesy of the Mac community at the Sterling picket lines. Thanks, fellow picketers, local law enforcement, and strike committees!!

    As a TA who once held the Mac admin in high esteem, I regret that it has come to this, but if they are unwilling to address the priorities I set for my bargaining team (which are NOT wages) at the bargaining table, then I feel that the picketing is the only voice I have left. I sincerely hope that they’re listening, so that I can get back to work as soon as possible.

  10. I completely agree with Malissa and CT. I have only done one shift of picket duty (but will be doing a second one tomorrow) at the Sterling gates and it was a very respectful and supportive atmosphere. I am pleased that the administration are continuing to meet with my bargaining committee throughout this week. I remain hopeful that by striking we are putting pressure on the university to return to negotiations and that a compromise will soon be reached.

  11. I’ve done 2 days of picketing at Sterling and agree with everyone’s comments about the generally positive response we’ve received there. I’ll be there every day until we get a good contract!

  12. This is question and answer that was sent today through the Mac e-mail.
    I find the answer to be quite confusing and ambiguous ( I think we are all union members and it doesn’t matter that we signed up actively).
    Would someone please clarify this?
    __________________
    Can the union take legal action against me if I choose not to participate in the strike and come to work?

    The union has rules and regulations that allow them to impose fines, etc. against union members for a variety of activities including crossing a picket line to work during a legal strike. However, those rules and regulations can apply if the TA is a union member, and the law provides that those fines, etc. that the union may otherwise impose on its members must be reasonable.

    Unless the TA actively signed up to be a union member the penalty provisions of the union’s constitution and by-laws do not apply to him/her and cannot therefore be used to prevent him/her from crossing the picket line and coming to work.
    ________________

    Thank you.

  13. This is a question and answer that was sent today through the Mac e-mail.
    I find the answer to be quite confusing and ambiguous ( I think we are all union members and it doesn’t matter that we signed up actively).
    Would someone please clarify this?
    __________________
    Can the union take legal action against me if I choose not to participate in the strike and come to work?

    The union has rules and regulations that allow them to impose fines, etc. against union members for a variety of activities including crossing a picket line to work during a legal strike. However, those rules and regulations can apply if the TA is a union member, and the law provides that those fines, etc. that the union may otherwise impose on its members must be reasonable.

    Unless the TA actively signed up to be a union member the penalty provisions of the union’s constitution and by-laws do not apply to him/her and cannot therefore be used to prevent him/her from crossing the picket line and coming to work.
    ________________

    Thank you.

    • I think that means that unless you signed a card to join the union, the union cannot sanction. If you are merely a member of the bargaining unit because you are employed as a TA and therefore dues have to be taken from your pay, and you never signed anything to joing the union, then you are not a member of the union and they can’t sanction.

      There is an important difference between union member and bargaining unit member and your union should know that.

    • The employer is simply trying to confuse us all by using ambiguous and non transparent language. Don’t fall for it as it is a negative bargaining tactic. Everyone is a part of the union when they become an RA or TA. Signing a union card only occurs when a new unionization drive is occurring at a workplace.

      • Wrong answer, Max. Everyone is a bargaining unit member when they become a TA. You have to actively join the union to become a member of the union.

      • Hi all,

        To be clear, our By-Laws state that all dues paying bargaining unit members in good standing. You DO NOT have to actively “join” the union in any special way (such as signing a union card). If this was true, then many members (for example, those who haven’t signed a union card) would not be able to vote at GMMs and such.

        Thanks for raising that issue, and in solidarity,

        Jesse

      • Then you need to bring your by-laws in line with the Ontario Labour Relations Act, which I’m sure trumps them.

      • Oh I see… You aren’t actually saying that every dues paying bargaining unit member is a member of the union, because of course they aren’t. But that sure is an interesting way of saying it. Confusing, one might even say.

        I didn’t raise the issue, Max misinformed someone who asked about it.

      • Gord,

        Can you please inform regarding some of your law background? How long have you been practicing and do you practice in the area of labor directly?

        Also, if you have a little time, could you refer directly to some case law regarding the interpretation of the OLRA which you offered? No big deal if you don’t want to look everything up directly, but am I correct in assuming that your interpretation is based directly on case law?

      • Dan, I could equally ask you to provide case law that has supported your interpretation of the clause that says very clearly that people are free to choose which if any union they belong to. If taking a job means you’re a union member, then that freedom is meaningless, is it not?

        Many unions allow bargaining unit members to opt out of paying union dues, although I think generally the money goes to some charity or something, because they cannot force them to be members of the union and because it is agreed that they shouldn’t have some portion of their dues going to some national union office they dont’ belong to.

        What part of your members dues go to the union’s head office, BTW, just out of curiosity?

      • My law background isn’t really relevant. What’s yours?

        Anyway, CUPE itself says you have to sign a card to be a member, and that membership is kept secret from the employer. That isn’t really consistent with every bargaining unit member being a union member, is it?

        http://cupe.ca/join-cupe

      • Thanks for the clarification.

    • I think another important point that the university is trying to make with this statement is that if you chose to continue working during the strike the union cannot fine you for this action.

      In other words the union can’t punish you for crossing the picket line.

      • TA-P,

        To the best of my knowledge, no, the union cannot fine strikerbreakers. However, that does not change the fact that strikebreakers are undermining the union’s efforts to get a fair contract for us all. Strikebreakers=less pressure on the administration=longer strike and worse deal.

    • check this out and see if that helps you understand your position:

      http://cupe.ca/join-cupe

  14. I know that one of the union’s key issues is a very key issue for me: not losing take-home pay due to the increases in tuition. I remember at the end of the summer, the union sent around a sheet detailing the monetary considerations of their proposal, as well as the employer’s proposal, so that we could easily see the key differences.

    Is it possible to make such a summary, helping us to understand the essence of the position documents from both sides?

    MacTA

  15. I am home after picketing too and have spent some time with my ice pack. I’m going to have to go on alternative duty due to my body not being able to keep up with my soul. I find picketing to be creating a wonderful atmosphere of solidarity between TAs from every department and that is the best thing we will take away from this experience. We are working together to support our bargaining team and this is an incredibly valuable experience. Keep it up everyone and I will find a way to come and walk with you and I’ll tell everyone to join in! We will do this together!! Our bargaining team has all of our support!

  16. I’m soooooooooooo tired :(( I just got home after picketing from 9AM to 6:30 (someone should feel the free space of scabs I guess). I guess I have to shower first but oh well, checking the blog is more important 😀

    I have some comments:

    1. Music: I try to bring better songs tomorrow but we need more musics!
    2. Music band: Is there anyone knowing how to play guitar or something? We need some entertainment while picketing!
    3. Tea: I had a lot of coffee today, I don’t want to get addicted to coffee after the first week of picketing. I’m asking the union to please supply hot water so we can have tea as well 😀

    Thanks for all the people who showed up today. V!

    • I really want the tea too 🙂

      • Hi guys, I am totally with you on the tea!

        I’m sure the supply and logistics committee will get something together, but to tide us over I will bring a thermos of hot water and some tea bags tomorrow. I’ll be at the Sterling picket line bright and early for the first shift, but I may also be at Cootes for the evening shift. I drink my tea black though, so bring whatever it is you like in your tea (milk, honey, lemon, bourbon, etc.)

        Hope to see you there!

    • Stop with the scab talk Sep. People have as much right to continue to work as you do to picket.

      • Yup, I didn’t insult them, I just noticed that we miss them at the picket lines. Everyone is definitely free to go on strike or not!

  17. Hey Fellow TA’s and RA’s
    It’s great to hear so much positive feedback coming from the line. I’m sorry I wasn’t there today (sick toddler at home), but I’ll be back on the lines tomorrow. When I was out getting groceries tonight I passed several cupe-pin wearing folks, it was nice to see supportive people out there. Hopefully not too many people will be confused by the employer’s propaganda
    hang in there everyone!

  18. And I have a question about the university’s email to CUPE unit 1 members. Why are they so stupid? They’ve said:
    “The amount of lost pay will be a function of the actual date that the strike commences, the duration of the strike, and the period during which the TA participated in the strike.”
    I guess that profs cannot mark the assignments (someone said that it’s in their contract but I’m not sure, can someone check that?). So if we go on strike for 2 weeks, and we don’t mark assignments for 2 weeks, then who is going to mark them? I’m not ever going to do that if they’re not going to pay me for the weeks. I have a contract that says I’m getting payed that is function of just hours that I TA, not the job that I’ve done! That would be funny if the students have some assignments not marked!!!!

    • There is nothing to stop the professor in a class marking work, or restructuring the class so that work you would have marked is not turned in.

      • But would they if it is not in their contract and they’re not getting paid for it? If I was a prof I wouldn’t do that and as long as I know my prof he’s not going to do it. Not for doing an extra job just because it’s bad for the TAs.

      • Actually most professors will restructure there course such that they can complete it without a TA. That is just the way it goes. They aren’t going to put grades on hold till next January because TAs are on strike.

        If you are striking under the assumption that you are guaranteed “back to work pay” you might be disappointed. Just letting people know.

      • 1. They might restructure but not marking the assignments that is not in their contract, if they’re not on the university’s side, which most of them are not since the university administration is acting more like working for a corporation instead of a high quality university. Even if they’re, they would complain a lot for the extra job!

        2. Fortunately, I’m not doing this tiresome work for money. I’m pretty informed that I know in worst case I’m getting paid $300-400 less. But I’m happy that I’m doing something that I believe is right.

        Trent, instead of trying to disappoint members, why don’t you just help us to reach a fair deal. Or if you don’t want the strike why don’t you just go and do your work and scab and get paid as the university was paying you before union tries to protect us?

      • Do members of faculty have a contract for each course they teach that says what they will and will not do???? Surely not.

      • Well Gord, I don’t know how much you’re getting paid to post here and disappoint people. Whatever you say is ignored for me. Anyone else who has any trustable source please answers.

        As far as I know, Professors cannot perform TA duties.

      • Plus, during the strike, no one else can do TA’s duties!!! So it should hold for after the term as well.

      • SepSep, I’m surprised you aren’t pleased that people from the community are interested in your struggle. Maybe what happened during previous strikes will give you answers that you find credible. I was asking a question, BTW. It would seem absurd to me (and extremely expensive if you hired lawyers to do it) to draw up contracts for every member of faculty for each course they teach, and to tell them what teaching their course involves. I would expect them to know that.

      • I think Gord H has the right of it.

        Professors, specially tenured professors, are not having contracts drawn up for each class each year.

        Simple fact remains that if the strike continues the work that would normally be done will be re shifted so that students can complete the course, get credit and get a grade.

      • @Gord: As long as I’ve been following your comments, you’re not even a student. There’s no wonder why you don’t have any idea that for everthing that you do in the university you have a contract and faculty are working with a contract that definitely defines all of their duties. And I never said that they have different contracts for each course but it’s defined for sure what they should do. Again I say that our duties should not be done by anyone else according to law!

        I’ll be waiting for someone with information about it to answer instead of arguing with you. But I confess that you’re professional in what you do. Well Done!

        In solidarity. V!

      • A friend of mine who is a member of Mac’s faculty tells me that “the instructor is responsible for the course”. He also said that Mac’s faculty aren’t unionized, so there is no issue of one union doing another’s work.

    • Just so you guys can here it from an instructor we do not have contract drawn up every year and we can do all the work a TA does. For most of us that have an unmarked assignment we will leave t for a week and then just mark it ourselves. The rest of the class will be restructured to allow for the course to run with as many TAs as we have left (which s most cases is about half). Our grades still have to be in for a specific day in December (depending on when you exam is) and that will not change.

      • Sorry for the typos it has been a long day for everyone on the teaching front (and no, that was not meant as a ‘cheap shot’ of any sort).

      • I should thank you Mac Prof. But since you cannot trust anyone on a weblog, I cannot completely rely on your answer and I need exact information!

        I don’t understand what you say: “we can do all the work a TA does.”. So what is the point of going on strike? I’m going to copy the answer that CUPE gave earlier it might be useful a Mac Prof:
        “During a strike, your TA/RA work cannot be performed by members of other unions on campus, including Faculty (MUFA) and Sessional Faculty (CUPE 3906, Unit 2), or members of CAW, SEIU, and IUOE. These unions have recognized the right to strike by enshrining their contracts protections against being forced to scab. This means that, unless other TAs or RAs with whom you work decide to break the strike and perform your duties, your contracted work will be waiting for you after the strike is over.”

        Should I sign in as Peter George?

        In Solidarity, V!

      • SepSep – According to MUFA policy, ‘A faculty member is under no obligation to carry out the duties of any University employee engaged in a work stoppage (either a strike or a lockout) nor shall he/she be subject to disciplinary action for failing to do so.’ That seems to me to say that a (tenured) professor cannot be forced to do the work of TAs, but it in no way limits their ability to do so if they so desire.

      • SepSep (if that is your real name),

        I understand you not thinking I am a prof. Let me put it this way though (and ask any prof you like) we do not have a contract saying what we can and cannot do. Essentially it is our course and we ‘sub-contract’ duties to the TA. If a prof decides to grade everything one semester they are more than welcome to do that. There are areas such as guest lecturing that I believe fall under a bit of a gray area but to be honest I only let senior TAs guest lecture when they ask to do it for the experience. I have had courses with a lab slot and no TAs which I cover and courses with 15 lab slots which I cover none. It ranges greatly.

        The reason a strike can work is that it is unrealistic to run a class with over 100 people (and possible much higher) in terms of all the normal time and everything the TA did. If a person is teaching three classes this essentially becomes impossible. I know the sheet says faculty cannot do things the TA is scheduled to do but realistically that is not the case. It is my understanding and belief that labs and tutorials are not right of the TAs but they are done by TAs instead of a prof (and generally done well and often better than the prof would do). Please don’t take the word of an anonymous web blog (I really don’t expect you or anyone to do this) but feel free to ask faculty and I am sure you will get the same type of answer.

      • Thanks JC. This is called a valid argument. Here is the link for other people: http://www.mcmaster.ca/mufa/handbook/workstop.html

        So we go back to my point, they either don’t do it (morally) or they will complain to school. Either way, university is under pressure! They can just say that they won’t do it and university should pay the TAs to do it, and this is under back-to-work agreement.

        I wonder how evil a university can be!

      • Many departments have said they will put aside TA marking until TA’s resume work. I’m happy to say that in political science, all my marking will be there when I get back. That’s a good question to raise with your department.

      • Yes the profs definitely can do TAs’ job, but morally they shouldn’t in this situation. And as Sarah said, in pol sci. and I guess most of the social sci. programs, they have to mark tons of never ending essays that a prof will never waste his time to mark! So the university is bluffing when they say they won’t pay for those. Sure they can do it and hold the classes next term so the next TA marks them.

        I don’t care about MY own work (I’m not in social sci.) even if my prof does it and I won’t get paid, but that never-ending job of marking for social sci. TAs is I guess one of the issues of the union now. Isn’t it? I’m more than happy to support this union that is supporting them even if this does not have anything to do with MEEEEE! My TA job takes less than 130 hours by far and that is never going to be an issue for me, but WE are united!

        In solidarity, V!

      • Okay, there is no end date in sight for this strike and from what I understand the university has no intention of extending the term. If the strike continues past exam time, marks would need to be submitted. If your department has said that your marking would be waiting for you when you return, you might be disapointed, for the simple fact that the term might end before the strike does.
        Also, from what I understand, even though TA duties can’t be reassigned to a prof, etc. that doesn’t mean that a TA who choses not to strike can’t perform the striking TAs duties.

        So if a prof cannot mark, that doesn’t mean that (s)he can’t pass on the marking to a TA who continues to work

      • TA-P,

        That is all true, in theory. However, in reality, many departments do not have enough TAs to cover all that marking. In mine, for instance, nearly 100% of the TAs have withdrawn their labour. One or two have not. We all know that come exam time most of us work well over 10 hours/week to get the exams marked. Do you really think two or three TAs can do the grading normally done by ~40? Really? If they can–aside from being grossly overworked–do you really think it can be done fairly? Perhaps some departments have enough strike-breakers to make it work, but a lot do not.

      • Hey TA -P,

        I guess we have talked about this issue enough. I don’t know anyone in our department than can mark my assignments (except my prof) since I’m the only TA of the course. If they want to pay someone else to mark it why wouldn’t they pay myself? They’re just trying to be smart ass!

        In Solidarity, V!

    • Just (hopefully) the last comment on this comment, it’s good to refer to previous strikes to learn some stuff. Not even York that was closer to us and got 90% back, McGill’s strike had the same result. It’s good to know that there is something called Back-To-Work Protocol. In McGill’s it says:

      6.1 The University will pay the salary that is owed up to the end of the contract to the members who personally withdraw their complaints (by using the attached form in Appendix B) whose course supervisor and department chair confirm in writing (using the attached form in Appendix C) that they have completed all their work as a TA prior to the start of the strike;

      Check http://www.agsem-aeedem.ca/attachments/074_BtWUnofficialEnglish.pdf

      Mac will eventually sign something like this 😉 Hope it’s clear enough even for Lord Gord H now!

      • SepSep, it isn’t clear to me how, if faculty can and do do the marking that doesn’t get done by striking TAs, there would be anything for a TA to “get back”.

        Your morality may dictate that you shaft undergraduate students to get your way, a professor’s morality may decide that their responsibility is to the students they teach and not to making it easier for you to pressure the university to pay for your glasses and tuition.

      • Gord, there has been enough on this issue. Instead of trying to answer a lot try to answer precise. First read all the answers and then write random stuff every time! The answer to your comment is in the comments, please find it yourself. In a nutshell, they won’t do it, and even if they prefer the undergrads to the issue of problem of university and try to do it, a lot of them cannot! So go and find someone from heaven to it for you.

        In solidarity, V!

      • Sepsep,

        I am not trying to be argumentative but profs in many departments and faculties can and will grade assignments. I personally know profs that have set aside a week of their time to grade essays for a class and others who have already changed the course requirements that state if the strike does not end all missed assignments will be re-weighted to the final exam which will be multiple choice as there is no-one to grade it. The concept of morality only matters if people believe in the union which, most notably on the Science/Engineering side, many do not. Maybe in departments like Poly Sci things are different but it isn’t in many areas. Economics TAs are running first year tutorial, engineering labs are still going on, first year Kin is running as everyone (or close enough) crossed due to their disenchantment with the union. Again I am not arguing the concept of the union of the students rights but I do think it is fair that the membership acknowledges that this strike will fractionate the union even further. In hindsight it would have been smart to talk with the staff union coordinate efforts because that could have actually shut down the University and caused things to happen. At the moment the strike is just an inconvenience.

        I understand (sepsep) that you say you come from a place with no unions and people should support it. You do have a point but the beauty of this country is we can support whatever we want an if people do not support the union they show it by working.

        Again no disrespect is meant and I am not trying to give my opinion as much as I want to paint a realistic picture from those that may not know what the feelings are in science and engineering. Take it for whatever you like as I will not argue against those that think I am not telling truths. If you do not believe I encourage you to do some of your own research and find examples of your own that agree or disagree with me. We would all be better off if some TAs/RAs stopped believing everything they hear and go out and find their own information.

      • Hey (so called) Mac Prof,

        Please check CUPE 3906 – McMaster University’s answer in https://unit1bargaining.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/rights-and-responsibilities-of-undergraduate-students-during-work-stoppages-that-substantially-disrupt-academic-activities/
        . and please be more productive in posting on the blog. I don’t know any prof that has the time to spend reading all these junks that I write here and answer, unless they’re paid by the university to do so! If you’re that dedicated to the university to mark all those assignments, lucky university.

        But let me tell you that there are courses that have 25 students per tutorial and there are 4 TAs that all of them are on strike. They have an essay now that is 6 pages. So 6*25*4 = 1200 pages. Ask the university to pay him enough to read 1200 pages and mark them and see what the prof answers! Good Luck.

        In Solidarity, V!

      • Sepsep,

        I do understand that some classes are larger but I personally graded 65 essay type assignments this weekend that were not the duty of a TA. I have also marked final exams with written components in classes of 200 before. Many profs do take the time to grade as it gauges the students learning in the course.

        In terms of having marking and work ready for you when you get back that will be a product of the length of the strike and the size of the class. A large class with numerous lab sections will most likely have no work to come back to as the labs have been cancelled and the grads re-weighted to the final. Everyone has a disclaimer on their course outline that allows for changes in the course (and yes, even the grading scheme). York did get back 90% of their money in back pay but I would think that was because the semester was effectively postponed. In this case the semester is not being postponed and it is business as normal. If (and I hope it doesn’t) this strike goes of to December I would think the majority of courses will only have a final exam to grade. If that exam was made to be multiple choice then there will be nothing for people to do and therefore no pay.

        I could be wrong about this and if I am I would love to hear why. Again please excuse typos as I am in a bit of a hurry.

      • I really want to know which program of eng/sci you’re that you mark essays! Why don’t you go and do your assignments (undergrad) mac prof? They’ll be marked sooner or later!

        Please read CUPE’s comment on this and they’ll post sth soon! Let me know that so far that the same thing has happened everywhere! Last year McGill paid 0 of that and they’re worse than mac!

        In Solidarity, V!

      • Sepsep,

        You have broken down an intelligent discussion to one a accusations. Ask around many people profs marks exams and essays (remember they do not have to be formal like social science essays, they can be simply three page answers to complicated question).

        I am not sure what you are talking about anymore.

      • I’m talking about you being an undergrad student who hates TAs and wastes all of his time here writing comments as a Prof instead of studying. i have never seen a prof in my life that is in eng/sci and marks a lot of essays to piss of TAs and being dedicated to his students and reads everything that I write here and answers each of them and still works at mac and get paid for researching or something!

        Please be respectful.

        In Solidarity, V!

  19. Thanks the CUPE bargaining team and all the people who showed up again!

  20. I just came home at 8:00 pm from the strike. I liked mood of the people there. I just want say to other TA who are reading this blog to join the team and thanks to all the people who showed up.

  21. I have been out the last two mornings, Monday at Sterling and today at Cootes, and I gained a lot of resolve from just physically being out on the lines. It’s an experience that I’ve never taken part in before, but it was (painfully) enjoyable. There were some very informative conversations between picketers, especially between people from different departments. It was great to get a read on what’s going on across campus, as well as some of the misinformation that is out there (including my own)! Obviously none of us want to be on strike, but it was really encouraging to see that so many of us, from all kinds of different academic backgrounds and disciplines, were on the same page.

    See you again tomorrow 3906’ers!

  22. You are wrong. Having union dues deducted from his pay does not make a person a member of the union who gets the dues.

    Article 5 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act (read it in summary form on line) says: ” Every person is free to join a trade union of the person’s own choice and to participate in its lawful activities. 1995, c. 1, Sched. A, s. 5.” This could hardly be true if taking a particular job automatically made you a member of a certain union.

    Furthermore, Article 47 Section 2 clearly states that unions have the right to collect dues from employees [bargaining unit members] who are not union members: “(b) in the case of an employee who is not a member of the trade union, the dues referred to in clause (a), excluding any amount in respect of pension, superannuation, sickness insurance or any other benefit available only to members of the trade union. 1995, c. 1, Sched. A, s. 47.”

    The difference between union member and bargaining unit member may be why neither your proposal nor the university’s make any reference to union members.

  23. I’m confused. So although I pay union dues, because I haven’t actually signed up with the union, I’m not a union member?

  24. I’m wondering why Gord H is so invested in criticizing our union. At first I just found his numerous posts to be negative and annoying, but the fact that he is trying to undermine the potential unity and solidarity of collective action with his wonderfully insightful legal tidbits makes me wonder what his motives are? Union members can decide for themselves whether they will strike, scab, or just say home.

    • I am also finding Gord H annoying. Let’s just ignore him from now on. He’s got to be a plant or some other form of vegetation.

      • Hey Jane,

        I understand how some people might be annoying to the members. But please respect the others and please avoid insulting. Whatever you do and wherever and whenever you do it, there are always people like them. That’s a fact that we should face them and figure out how to deal with this phenomena!

        If some people are ignorant, we have to inform them. But Gord is definitely not ignorant, he knows what he’s doing. So the only thing that comes to my mind is to ignore him. Any other respectful idea?

        In solidarity. V!

      • “A plant or some other form of vegetation.”

        The quality of discussion on this board has sunk to a new low.

      • As a general post, and not directed at anyone:

        Lets keep the posts on the board respectful.

        I’d like to think the intent of this board is for swapping of opinions and facilitate discussions. Even differences of opinions and negative views should also be tolerated. Addressing another author of a comment should be done tactfully. The general spirit of a GMM, where one should feel free and not threatened to voice an opinion, should still apply here.

        Please lets all refrain from making directed personal remarks.

      • If you are personally annoyed by comments from an individual you can choose to ignore them privately rather than stating to the entire blog that you need to ignore him.

        Sorry just had to add this comment to this stream of comments.

      • @HRS: Agreed, I didn’t want to state it either.

    • I’m shocked that Max is informing you about whether you are union members or not, and that Jesse is at best obfuscating on it. It’s a legitmate question with one correct answer, and that it hasn’t been provided accurately or clearly should be disturbing. You want solidarity based on a lie (that seems to be intended to intimidate your members because union members, which most of you aren’t can be fined for working during a strike?)

  25. I think its ridiculous that members of this union cannot vote on the offer put forth by the university. I think the longer that the union drags this strike, the more it will hurt them.

  26. I’m not sure who the other Max is, but it is the case that, for all intents and purposes, anyone who pays dues is a member (and remains a member until the conclusion of 2 terms following their last dues-paying assignment). There is nothing but a semantic distinction between the two designations. This issue has already been settled by the labour board.

    I too would be interested in who you are Gord.

  27. Great unity on the picket lines today! Let’s keep it up so the admin will finally negotiate seriously so this can be ended

  28. I was expecting to see a large number of TA/RA walking out on class however all of my tutorials/labs are still going on. The same is with my friends in Life Sci and other eng disciplines. My question is Why is this strike not being fully supported by all/most of the TA’s. I was also expecting a huge line (around at least 300 students) at the Sterling street entrance but I saw far less than that. Once again why are the Grad TA not actively supporting this strike and if I am understanding this correctly they will be the one gaining the maximum out of the contract the bargaining board is putting forward.

    • Each TA/RA have their own opinions on the strike and some may choose to go on strike while others will continue to work. If all of your TA/RAs are still working then that is definetly lucky for you as there won’t be a delay in your course schedule. (This might be seen as unlucky since you’ll have to do all the required course work and you won’t get to go on a mini-vacation while the strike is going on.)

      Furthermore, a lot of the TA/RAs still have class so they cannot all just skip class to be outside all day picketing.

    • I completely understand that everybody is free to choose to go on strike or not. But something is shocking for me. I am from a country that union is something that does not exist at all or the government have them completely under control. Now here, I understand the importance of unions and how they’re there to save your rights and support everyone’s benefits (not MY benefits!!!). But I’m so disappointed to see most of the people here are not caring about their union and put their own (short-term) benefits before union’s. And even some of them trying to destroy the union or do something that the union loses its power. They’re just underestimating union’s power and importance, it’s not good at all!

      In solidarity, V!

      • I don’t agree with the strike and that is why I will continue working. I think we are well compensated for what we do and that there are equally important jobs out there (ex: social workers) that receive much less pay. I’m putting societal ideals before the union ideals, not my own benefits before the unions. Personally I think we are being greedy and disrupting many people who don’t deserve to be disrupted.
        I know I will be bashed for these comments, but understand that these are just my opinions. I respect your decision and reasons for striking but don’t agree with them.

      • McMaster TA:

        One thing I would like to point out is that the financial situation for a given TA varies greatly from department to department. In some, as my understanding goes, a TA/RA-ship is not guaranteed, and what the union is fighting for is their lively hood. As a worst-case example, the ones that most severely affected by the current offer are the ones that are already scrapping to get by, and the take-home cash from the new package could mean losing as much as two rents a year.

        As you said the decisions and opinions of a person is their own, and as such you should not be bashed for posting them. (That and I sincerely hope that you will not be, as your post, while it may come from a different angle than the rest of the comments, have probably raised the average maturity level of this entire thread.)

      • Hey TA that I don’t your name, I completely respect your idea, but I just have some questions.

        Do social workers pay crazy amount of money for tuition fee to their employee?

        Are they forced to work less than 260 hours a year?

        Are they getting payed way less than the year before (considering the living expenses that tuition fee is the major one for us now) and their employer justifies it with recession time and then employer gets 1.4 million $ for himself in the recession time? If this happens would they stay quiet?

        And a lot more that I don’t remember

        In solidarity, V!

        P.S: I’m so concerned about how unequal is the payment in the society but that is the problem that should be solved the country level not in the university level.

        P.S2: I guess social workers are getting waaaaaay better than TAs and they have a waaaaaay better benefits. One thing that I know is that their dental insurance is not $1000 but almost unlimited.

      • Thanks Eugene, you’re right. Most of the people that are against the strike now that I’ve seen are the people who are getting paid enough or don’t care about TA’s payment. I just want to say it again that now the union is under the pressure and not the individuals. We have to stand together to give power to the union. One day the people that are not under any pressure now and don’t care might be under pressure and then the union can help them if it has power. If we don’t support the union, that day there’s no one else to help you.

        In Solidarity, V!

      • Actually, just thinking back of when I started at McMaster was around the time of our last bargaining, and I sure had no idea the funding situation varied so drastically different from department to department. It was truly an eye-opener when I found out.

      • SepSep, I thought TAs worked part-time to underwrite the cost of being a student. Social workers aren’t students and don’t get degrees after several years on the job.

  29. Is there ever going to be any more discussion of another union meeting that gives those of us who missed sunday’s meeting a chance to understand what is going on?
    It seems that these questions have been pushed under the rug for the time being in the name of solidarity…
    I’d like our representatives to communicate more with those whom they represent, regardless of whether we choose to join the picket lines or not

    • I’m definetly in support of this and am hoping that we’d be notified of a meeting 2-3 days in advance. I understand the short notice for the meeting on Sunday and was very appreciative with the messages leading up to the meeting.

    • I too am in support of another meeting.

      However, I think that there’s little more one can expect from CUPE in terms of providing information. Their language might have a unionist tinge, but this is most likely due to the fact that they are a labour union. No less of an ideological colouring of language exists on behalf of the employer.

      I, for one, commend CUPE on their openness and transparency (subject to the aforementioned moot proviso).

  30. Three shifts in two days! I’m exhausted… But the support has been great and the mood very positive.
    If there are any TAs reading this that haven’t been out to the lines yet I really want to encourage you to come out and stand (walk?) with your fellow members. It’s great to feel like you’re actually actively making this job action a success.
    thanks to the bargaining committee for all their hard work!

  31. Ok, so lets seriously clarify this then. Will a high ranking member of the union (or multiple of them) please answer these questions clearly (and in order) since there seems to be a lot of half answers from both sides of the issue (and I’m not totally sure what Jesse wrote there, I hope its just that I’m tired from the picketing we’ve been doing), and there seems to be differences between “Union Members” and “Bargaining Unit Members” I know we are trying to maintain solidarity, but half truths lead to mistrust, and you have been quite honest and kind so far, and I hope you won’t change that:

    1. What are the actual differences between a Union Member and Bargaining Unit Member. We’ve heard what the university said, but it would be nice to hear your understanding.

    2. Can someone who is paying the dues only, and has not signed a union card or anything else, be fined for breaking the strike.

    3. Are the majority of grad TAs proper members of the union, and therefore able to be fined by the union?

    4. How can we check if we are full members of the union and therefore able to be fined (i.e. a list, email or number to call), in case we want to know where we stand- either to exercise the legal right to work despite the strike, or merely to see what rights/powers we have within the union as full fledged union members?

    Thank you very much for your honest answer.

    • My understanding of the law is that while bargaining unit membership is passive (you attain it by virtue of taking the job), union membership is something that you have to actively elect to undertake. It is based on your fundamental right of freedom of association – you can’t be forced to be a member of an organization (a union) simply by taking a job. The best analogy I can think of off hand is political party membership – you don’t become a member of a particular politcal party simply by making a donation to it or one of its candidates, or by voting for one of its nominees.

      • This is what the university has been saying, but what Jesse just posted on the front wall, makes it seem as if we are all finable members.

        CAN ANYONE WHO PAYS DUES BE FINED FOR BREAKING THE STRIKE?

        I have not broken the strike, but it seems like important info.

        Thanks

    • I’ve just come across this, and I think it will help answer part of your question:

      http://cupe.ca/join-cupe

  32. I feel kind of weird saying this (given that we’re currently on strike), but being on the lines is the first time I have ever felt like I was a part of this university. Even though it’s exhausting putting in as many hours as possible every day, I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow. Of course, I don’t want to be on strike and will rejoice when we can come to a fair collective agreement and I can get back to my job, but until then, I’m having a great time with all of you and hope to meet some more people tomorrow!


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