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

Bargaining Bulletins

July 20, 2009

The Unit 1 bargaining process continues, with both sides presenting first packages on June 30th. The Union’s package currently includes no wage increase, but instead focuses on items designed to ensure that members’ net compensation and benefits increase. Key items include:

  • A tuition rebate program to prevent future tuition increases from eroding graduate student net compensation
  • Increased benefits through expanded funding of dental, vision and health coverage
  • Increased paid hours of work to 280 for a full 2 semester TA (from 260)
  • Guaranteed TA positions for 5th and 6th year of doctoral studies
  • A portion of compensation paid as a “grant-in-aid,” the equivalent of a scholarship so that no income tax is charged, and also no additional cost is incurred by the university.

The University also recently released the graduate tuitions fees for the 2009-2010 year which included an 8% increase in tuition fees for almost all graduate students. This jump means an additional $411, or $34 per month, will be taken from the compensation of Canadian graduate students. For international students, the increase amounts to $753, or $63 per month, out of pocket. This continues the employer’s pattern of offsetting any wage increase with a larger tuition hike.

For a full listing of the graduate student tuition fees see:  http://www.mcmaster.ca/graduate/fees.html

Since they were clearly taken aback by the Union’s preparation, the Employer’s first package reserved comment on any monetary items for later negotiations and contained mostly grammar and stylistic changes. However, the most significant addition to the contract by the Employer was the inclusion of a 1 month probationary period for every TA, for everyassignment. Reassuringly, relevant language from the Collective Agreements of the other two CUPE Units (Post-Doctoral Fellows and Sessional Faculty) has been imported into the Unit 1 contract by both sides. This includes important protections against harassment, violence and discrimination and will hopefully include similar protections against bullying in the workplace.

While the teams were scheduled to meet at 10:00AM on July 2nd and July 9th, the University bargaining committee took the entirety of July 2nd and until almost 2:00 PM on July 9th as their own caucus time. The two sides met for a little over an hour on July 9th and worked through some housekeeping details, mainly to make corrections to the employer’s already belated package. Even so, the university bargaining committee was unwilling to engage in meaningful discussions. The next scheduled bargaining session is July 28th and our bargaining team hopes that this time the university bargaining committee will come prepared for substantive discussions.

If you would like to get involved with the bargaining process, there are plenty of roles to be filled that may require as little as 30 minutes a week. To find out how you can contribute, please contact president@cupe3906.org or staff@cupe3906.org.

If you would like to see a copy of the membership mandated bargaining priorities and principles, please contact president@cupe3906.org or call the CUPE office at extension 24003.

Don’t forget to keep checking our Unit 1 bargaining blog at:  https://unit1bargaining.wordpress.com and our Facebook group (search for CUPE 3906).

In solidarity,

Your Bargaining Team and Bargaining Support Committee.

June 1, 2009

Unit 1 bargaining is underway! Our first meeting with the Employer’s team was Wednesday, May 20th, in which we decided on upcoming bargaining dates and presented the local’s bargaining groundrules that were passed by the membership at the April AGM/GMM. The groundrules outline guidelines to which the membership and the local hold both teams accountable. They are organized around principles of democracy (which includes no media blackout, sidebar and late night bargaining provisions), no concessions (that is, we do not accept a contract that claws away at existing rights, either directly or defacto), respect (which underscores the fundamental importance of members’ contributions to the university and collective participation in the process) and solidarity, coordination and autonomy (which underscores the local’s autonomy and implications in the broader labour movement and community struggles). To see a copy of the local’s groundrules, please visit our unit 1 bargaining blog at https://unit1bargaining.wordpress.com/.

The employer’s bargaining team is chaired by Assistant Vice-President Academic Peter Smith and includes Patrick Bennett, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, Laura Finsten, Professor of Anthropology, Mara Giannotti, Office of the Provost, Tony Petric, Materials Science and Engineering, Lisa Newton, Associate Director Employee/Labour Relations, and Grey McGarry-Ainslie, Employee/Labour Relations Advisor. Joining the Employer’s team is Al Orth, an external, contracted consultant.
Tentative bargaining dates have been scheduled for the third week of June, throughout July and the end of August. Both parties will exchange language in June.

What happens next?

As our Bargaining Team and Executive Committee are busy drafting language, our Bargaining Support and Strike Support teams are well underway with plans to continue reaching out to members to make sure that you are informed about the bargaining process. Look out for our bargaining support team members, who will be visiting your department over the next few weeks to have one-on-one conversations with you to pass on the latest information and answer any questions you may have about the process. If you are interested in finding out the latest bargaining information and sharing it with the colleagues in your department consider joining the Bargaining Support team. It is the best way to get the latest, most accurate information from the table. Please contact Mary Ellen at president@cupe3906.org for more information.

Our Strike Support team is also making preparations for the possibility of a strike or lockout. Strike/lockout preparations are necessary for every round of bargaining. Did you know that the best way to avoid a strike is to prepare for a strike? There are many components to strike preparation, which include setting up an off-site office, ironing out finances, including strike pay and hardship, making links within the membership and community, and gathering supplies. If you are interested in sitting on the strike headquarters committee, finance committee, hardship committee, communications committee, picket lines and picket captain squad, or supplies committee, please contact Mary Ellen at president@cupe3906.org.  Everyone is encouraged and welcome to participate. The success of this round of bargaining lies in your participation.

We are currently recruiting a Unit 1 international student for our Bargaining Team. If you are an international member and are interested in advocating for international members and students’ rights, this limited-commitment and honoarium-paid position is for you! Please contact president@cupe3906.org or staff@cupe3906.org for more information.

Finally, to see a copy of membership-mandated bargaining priorities and principles, please contact president@cupe3906.org or call the office at extension 24003.

Keep checking our Unit 1 bargaining blog for updates: https://unit1bargaining.wordpress.com/.

The success of this round is up to you!

In solidarity,

Your Bargaining Team and Bargaining Support Committee

One Response to “Bargaining Bulletins”

  1. “The success of this round of bargaining lies in your participation.” Well said! If everyone puts in a little bit of time we can improve our contract significantly. But this won’t happen if a few people are left to do all the work. If this happens, there is every chance we will end up with major concessions to what is already a bad contract. A little bit of work by everyone will make all the difference. Every effort counts. A few months light work for a few years of better working conditions…sounds like a good opportunity wouldn’t you say?


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