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

Bargaining Bulletin #3 – Employer’s Monetary Package

August 5, 2009.

The University finally presented a full package to the Union’s bargaining team on August 4th. Your bargaining team has completed a full analysis of the monetary portion of the package and concluded it is completely inadequate. The increase in compensation offered by the Employer covers only a small fraction of the massive tuition hike for students for the next school year. Here’s a summary of the employer’s package:

  • No to any tuition rebate language, so the university can raise tuition another 8% next year, and the year after, continually eroding net compensation
  • No guarantee that wage increases won’t be offset by scholarship decreases
  • No increase to benefits funding and de-facto decreases in vision and UHIP coverage due to increased graduate enrollment
  • No increase in paid hours of work
  • A 3 year package with 1.1% wage increase for graduate TAs in year 1, 1.3% in year 2, 1.5% in year 3 and similar valued increases for undergraduate TAs.
  • A probationary period for all incoming TAs to allow the university to discharge employees for “language or background issues.”

The net effect of the tuition hikes and the Employer’s package on the pockets of TAs is summarized in the table below. As you can see, graduate TAs will end up significantly worse off through the Employer’s proposal. Your responses to our bargaining survey in the spring made it clear that graduate TAs currently aren’t making enough money to survive, in fact, most live well below the poverty line.

Employer’s Monetary Package for Year 1:

Item Domestic TAs International TAs Undergrad TAs
Tuition increase

-$411

-$753

-$250

Wage increase

+$104

+$104

+$50

Tax increases due to wages

-$16

-$16

+$8

Clawbacks to Scholarships

– ? TBD by Employer

– ? TBD by Employer

Clawbacks to benefits due to enrollment

– ? TBD by Employer

– ? TBD by Employer

– ? TBD by Employer

Net effect to TAs

-$323

-$665

-$192

The Union’s package contains numerous innovative proposals that result in more money in the pockets of TAs, and in some cases at absolutely no cost (or a cost savings) to the Employer, all while requiring no wage increase for graduate TAs. We’ve proposed that graduate TAs get the tuition increase, which the Employer unilaterally decreed, returned to them in the form of a tuition rebate. We’ve also proposed a restructuring of TA pay so that $3000 of the compensation for a full graduate TA comes in the form of a non-taxable “grant-in-aid.” This grant-in-aid will not have deductions for EI, CPP, Ontario Health Tax, Union dues and WSIB premiums, this means a savings of hundreds of dollars per full graduate TA for the university and savings for each graduate TA as well.

We’ve also proposed that undergraduate TAs get the same Employer contribution to the Union Dental plan that graduate TAs get, as well as an increase to Undergraduate TA compensation to bring them more in line with graduate TA payment rates.

Union’s Initial Package for Year 1:

Item Domestic TAs International TAs Undergrad TAs
Tuition Increase

-$411

-$753

-$250

Tuition Rebate

+$411

+$753

Tax and dues decrease due to grant-in-aid

+$275

+$275

Dental Premium Contribution

+$18

+$18

+$325

Health Premium Contribution

+$163

+$163

+45

Increased UHIP rebate

+$100

Increasing paid hours to 280 hours / full TA

+$700

+$700

Increased undergrad TAs pay rate

+$1200

Net effect to TAs

+$1156

+$1256

+$1320

The bargaining team is also very concerned with the continual growth of class sizes and decreases in quality of education for undergraduate students at McMaster. We’ve proposed tutorial and lab size caps to ensure that undergraduate students get the quality of education they deserve for the money they spend. Classes at McMaster should NEVER be standing room only.

The bargaining teams have two more scheduled days of bargaining, on August 6th and August 11th, before the current TA contract expires on August 31st. The Union’s bargaining team is willing to meet until the end of August, but the Employer’s team has said they are unable to make dates after the 2nd week of August. Two dates have also been scheduled for early September, after the contract is expired.

We need your support to help put pressure on the Employer. Your bargaining team is absolutely committed to getting more money into the pockets of every TA on campus and feels this is absolutely necessary to keep up with the realistic costs of being a graduate TA living in the Hamilton area. We absolutely cannot accept the concessions on benefits, wages, probationary period and significant decrease in compensation proposed by the University.

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.

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