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

Bargaining Bulletin #7 New School Year Flyer

August 24, 2009

Teaching assistants, super-tutors, markers, demonstrators and research assistants in lieu of teaching assistant
If you were employed at McMaster in any of the above jobs in the last academic year, or have a contract for the upcoming academic year, then you are a member of CUPE 3906 Unit 1. CUPE 3906 is the largest union at McMaster, representing over 3000 workers. Our members and staff negotiate a collective agreement that governs your wages, benefits and working conditions at McMaster and fight to uphold social justice in our community.

What’s happening right now?
The union is currently in negotiations with the university administration to develop a new collective agreement covering all Unit 1 members. Our current collective agreement expires on August 31, 2009 and the two parties have met 6 times over the summer and have 6 more days of bargaining set for September.

What are the issues at the table?
There are several key issues at the table including benefits, working conditions and a tuition rebate. With the administration’s current package, Unit 1 members will have less benefits and smaller paycheques starting in September. Despite the increases in wages proposed by the administration, their proposed contract means a $400 to $800 loss per year for each graduate TA, depending on your student status.

A key factor in this loss is the massive tuition hike enacted in May 2009. Another source of the loss is due to the administration’s insistence on freezing benefits funds while increasing the number of TAs. Another key issues is over working conditions, many TAs are over-worked and at 260 hours / year, McMaster TAs are compensated for the least number of hours of comparable Ontario universities.

The union has proposed to increase the number of paid hours to 280 hours / year, implement a tuition rebate program to offset the increased cost of tuition, cap the ratio of students to TAs and put more money into benefits funds. The administration has said no to all of these proposals.

Where can I find out more information?
Our bargaining blog is the best source for the latest information:
You can also join our Facebook group by searching for CUPE 3906 on Facebook.
Our bargaining team is always available to answer questions, you can send an email to

What is a strike mandate vote?
A strike mandate vote occurs when the bargaining team calls upon its members to give them a “strike mandate.” (That is, the membership gives permission to the Bargaining Team to call for labour disruption in the event that negotiations break down.) It is a vote of the membership conducted by secret ballot and called at a membership meeting. Members are informed in advance of the time and place of the meeting and the vote. At the meeting, members will hear about what the Employer is demanding in terms of concessions (i.e., losses of already existing collective agreement rights) and the demands of the Union that the Employer is refusing to grant.

When are the strike mandate votes and meetings:
GMM September 2nd, 2009: 5:00 P.M.
MDCL 105; voting following the GMM to 10 P.M.

Voting September 3rd, 2009: 10 A.M. – 5 P.M. Mills Library Lobby, Thodes Library Lobby GMM September 22nd, 2009: 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Burridge Gym in Ivor Wynne Centre; voting following the GMM to 10 P.M.

Voting September 23rd, 2009: 10 A.M. – 5 P.M.
Mills Library Lobby, Thodes Library Lobby
(GMM and voting locations are subject to change based on the status of the CAW 555 negotiations. Check the blog for the latest updates: )

I’m not getting emails from CUPE. What can I do?
Our main source of contact information comes directly from the university administration. Unfortunately this information takes a long time to get to us and may have errors or omissions. If you’re not getting emails and you think you should be, please send an email to with your preferred email address and we will ensure you get notifications. If you’re interested in helping out with the bargaining process, email .


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