CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Blog
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RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS DURING WORK STOPPAGES THAT SUBSTANTIALLY DISRUPT ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES

The University recognizes that a work stoppage involving University employees that substantially disrupts academic activities may have a significant impact on the ability of students to carry out their studies. The University also recognizes the need to treat students fairly and equitably, and at the same time, to protect the academic integrity of the University’s courses and programmes.

Once a disruption is declared by the University:1.   Students shall be kept informed in a timely manner of any changes to the course requirements and the rescheduling of any academic activities. If accommodations to course requirements are made with the agreement of both the instructor(s) and student(s), the alternate arrangements cannot be reversed without the agreement of both parties.2.   Students may be unable, or may choose not to, participate in academic activities during a work stoppage; in such cases students shall not be penalized academically. Nevertheless, students remain responsible for meeting course requirements. Students, therefore, have a right to extended deadlines, make-up tests and assignments, reasonable alternative access to course materials, and/or other special arrangements as may be appropriate.  

3.   Course withdrawal deadlines (academic and financial) shall be suspended during a disruption, and extended until one week after the end of a disruption, whether or not the withdrawal deadline has passed, and, in any event, no later than the first day of the Test and Examination ban.

4.   Students may not have the same learning experience during a disruption; however, the University will make every effort to provide the highest quality of education possible at that time.  

5.   A student who considers that a disruption has unreasonably affected his/her grade in a course may appeal the grade in accordance with the procedures described in the Student Appeal Procedures. Any time limit specified in the Student Appeal Procedures that occurs during a disruption shall be extended accordingly.

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22 Responses to “RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS DURING WORK STOPPAGES THAT SUBSTANTIALLY DISRUPT ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES”

  1. I have a question about the university’s email to CUPE unit 1 members. I asked this question in another post too but I just got answer from Gord (who is definitely the most unreliable source for me on planet earth) 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!!!!

    • I find that last sentence somewhat disrespectful. The word “funny” does not find its way into my vocabulary when I am talking about anything to do with the current situation. Unless of course I were to say:

      I can’t believe someone would think it’s funny that students have their assignments not marked.

      To any undergraduates that may be curious about the current situation – I encourage you to seek out as many opinions as possible. You will hear many. Some are good, some are bad. But be skeptical about everything until you can trace things to a primary source for yourself.

      Oh yeah – and how did a post that seemed to be meant for helping undergrads with information turn into a place where TA’s expressed concern about their pay?

      • Hi SepSep. I am not 100% sure about this either, but I will share what I do know. Most professors I know have unequivocally stated that they will not engage in any duties their TAs were previously responsible for. In larger English classes it would be completely impossible for professors to mark all of the papers. I know the class I TA for still expects students to hand in papers (despite not having them graded). On coming back to work there will either have to be A) more hours given to me to mark the backlog of papers that have accumulated or B) the hours I put into my other duties as a TA (office hours, holding tutorials, etc…) will have to be redirected into solely marking until the backlog has been cleared (make sense)? I think it will be up to the course professor to decide which avenue to push for.

        Greg: I do not think it unfair for someone who is currently not getting paid (unless they are putting in the hours to get strike pay — which is not a lot) to be anxious about what sort of hours they have to put in once they return to work and how those hours will be compensated. We can be concerned about students and ourselves simultaneously. This is an emotional time for us all, please be considerate and give us some leeway.

      • To Mac TA: I do not think it unfair for someone not being paid to be anxious about what hours they need to put in upon returning to work and their compensation for it either. I did not say this, and never would. I simply stated that I do not think that a page that is referring to undergraduates and the situation from their standpoint should be followed by comments about TA’s concerned about their pay. This is a HUGE concern for people. I hope that people are concerned about both at the same time. However, the two are unrelated and there should be separate pages for this issue though. Or I see there’s an FAQ now here. Haven’t looked through it yet, but, might be answered there.

        I understand it’s an emotional time. I have chosen not to picket or strike-break right now, so the lack of money issue is not lost on me.

        I do not believe anything I said above was inconsiderate. I would just hope that this blog can remain in a fashion where people can find the information they are seeking without difficulty, and so, keeping comments relevant to the original post.

      • I have the answer in the previous post, if you want you can follow it there. That guy (or guys) called Gorg tries his best to reject it but I guess I found enough facts to show that university is just bluffing!

        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,

      This is entirely up to the professor that you are TAing for and what they want to do. I know some profs will not do any work and will just leave all the work for the TAs when they return to the job. Others (the ones with smaller classes) may consider doing some of the marking themselves.

      If there are a lot of unmarked assignment for your course then I’m sure the professor will re-prioritize and have the work done one way or another.

      (Side note: If you have a dislike for one of the members here that’s fine but to openly state it on a public blog just seems childish. If you find their source of information “the most unreliable source for me on planet earth” then simply ignore it. I know then if I don’t like your comment that I should take my own advice and ignore it but my comment is not written in an intent to hurt another but rather to simply help.)

  2. In solidarity, V!

  3. I don’t know if this is right or not, but I have heard that our hours of work won’t be a case by case basis, since that would a logistical nightmare for the payroll department. I think that when an agreement is reached it will include back to work language that will give us a percentage of our pay. At York, even though they were out 3 months, they still received on average 90% of their pay. Again, I don’t know if this is true, but it is what I have heard this week. The percentage is therefore part of the negotiation as far as I understand things. I suspect that the university’s email was just another instance of their intimidation tactics, just like their so-called “best” offer. Someone who knows better please correct me if I am wrong!

    • I think the same. Just wanted to comment on that and if anyone else has real facts about it corrects us.

      Thanks for the comment.

      In solidarity, V!

    • We cannot compare our sitution here to the situation at York in terms of back to work pay. The York strike resulted in the term being extended. If courses continue as normal (as a lot of them are) and the marking, and other normal TA duties are complete, I don’t see how it is possible for those on strike to make up their hours and get anything close to 90% of their pay. How can you get paid for a job that you did not do?

      • TA-P,

        There is a clear fallacy in your argument. Most TA duties are not being completed. In my department, all grading normally carried out by TAs has come basically to a stand-still. Who will do these duties? Not the professors; not the three or four TAs out of ~40 who are breaking the strike. Who? Where is this invisible army of markers? Either way, your argument amounts to “All the cool kids are going it, why aren’t you?”: “Your co-worker is strikebreaking, therefore there is no reason for you to withdraw your labour; strike break, too!” If there is a problem here, strikebreaking is the source, not the solution.

      • I think you might want to read that again. I did not say most courses, I said a lot…not quite the same thing. I think we can agree that we only truly know what is going on in our own departments. In no way am advocating strike breaking or not. I am just trying to give a different perspective on a constant comparison (between McMaster and York) made by many people on the blog and the CUPE exec. I think that people should form their own opinions so they truly know what they are getting into by strike breaking or not.

  4. You guys should have used a bigger font for the title of this blog post. Someone might accidentally miss it.

  5. Hi SepSep,

    This is a complex question, and we cannot be certain about what happen in terms of back-pay for members. To be clear, it is not absolutely guaranteed that all members who withhold their labour will receive all the their normal pay. The employer can withhold some of your pay for hours not performed during the strike, and can try to find ways to minimize the need to make up this work when everyone returns to work.

    That said, the union and the university administration AGREE that, during the 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), Post-Doctoral Fellows (CUPE, Unit 3) 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, it is reasonable to anticipate that most of your contracted work will be waiting for you after the strike is over.

    Especially if the strike is short, as is expected if members remain supportive, MEMBERS ARE NOT EXPECTED TO LOSE ANY PAY, as individual employment contracts will still need to be completed, and guarantees will still need to be honoured.

    This assumption is, in part, based on past experiences in which those who have supported a strike and then completed their contract hours at the conclusion of the strike have recieve 90%-100% of their regularly contracted hours. This HAS been the case in the past at McMaster and across the province in TA/RA strikes. We do not have any information that leads us to believe otherwise.

    Even in the event of a longer strike, IT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE that any contract hours that are performed toward your contracted hours of this term, even if they are performed next term, MUST be paid. How this will work will be negotiated into the ”Back to Work Protocol,” and negotiating a fair protocol is generally a key aspect to ending a strike successfully, so they are generally fair.

    The university administration seems more focused on releasing inaccurate information, designed to agitate our striking union members, than on bargaining a fair contract at the table and averting the strike. We believe this is not the best approach. We have asked that they return to the table tomorrow, in the presence of the government-appointed mediator, and work with the union to end the strike fairly, with a contract that can be recommended by teh bargaining team and ratified by the majority of members. Please don’t let the employer’s negative messaging get you down — we will continue to do our best to answer all inquiries as soon as possible.

    Thanks for your great work and great resolve.

    In solidarity,

    Jesse

  6. I fully expect to receive most if not all of my TA pay at the end of the strike, especially with a short strike. My department has canceled all
    tutorials for classes with multiple TAs and no one is doing my work. I expect I will have to do that work when the strike is over and get paid for it. Not that this should be a reason to strike, but I expect I will make more money this semester because of the strike since I will have received strike pay on top of my regular TA pay. These are my expectations and I feel confident of them given the history of strikes in this sector.

  7. Nothing would stop this strike faster than if students joined the picket lines. If even a couple hundred students came together, joined the lines, held rallies, sent letters to the university, started demanding a tuition rebate, it would put a lot of pressure on the university to negotiate fairly and end the strike ASAP. It can be done even at Mac. Remember, 180,000 Quebec college and university students went on strike in 2005 and they won 103 million dollars for their education. A couple hundred undergrads at Mac can end this strike and maybe even win some tuition rebates. It is all a matter of collective power. They got the lawyers and the money, the students and CUPE have the numbers and the ability to withdraw our labour, including our student work.

  8. “Students may be unable, or may choose not to, participate in academic activities during a work stoppage; in such cases students shall not be penalized academically. Nevertheless, students remain responsible for meeting course requirements. Students, therefore, have a right to extended deadlines, make-up tests and assignments, reasonable alternative access to course materials, and/or other special arrangements as may be appropriate.”

    Take advantage of this right. Use it fully.

    AlexD

  9. But what about TA’s who actually have even hours distributed about the term, i.e. tutorials or labs but no backended marking? The tutorials and labs are just being chopped, never to be made up by the students and the marks are being reassigned to other areas of the syllabus. They will receive non of the pay for the hours they will lose. This is unjust that some TA will make money during the strike and other lose money. Unity?

    If you do not stand to lose anything from striking, does it not make the decision to strike easier and, therefore, undermine the strength of the pickets? There should be some consequence to picketing for everyone and not just some of the members. Unity in the positive and the negative, that’s the deal.

    • I was thinking about that too. CUPE is claiming that the university is being biased with publishing back to work pay details and yet they themselves are not addressing the issue of the TA’s who lead the tutorials & lab groups.

      • Hi McMaster TA,

        Could you clarify what your question is? I’ll answer it if I see it.


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