CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Blog
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Email Archive

October 28, 2009

Dear Members,

As the October 31st Unit 1 strike/lockout date approaches, we are continuing to set up office at our strike office. The office in B108 Wentworth will be closed in the event of a strike. (We have to move to an off-site office in part because we do not want to cross our own picket lines, and in part because the Employer can lock us out of our McMaster office.)

All regular office functions will take place at the strike office as of this Saturday, October 31st. All benefits will continue as normal in the event of a strike, but will be administered at the strike office. (This includes Unit 2 and Unit 3 benefits).

In order to answer members’ questions about the potential strike and to continue with strike preparations, including allowing members to sign up for picket duty, we are holding office hours at the strike office this Saturday, October 31st, from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. We encourage members to stop by with their questions, to assist in strike preparations, and to have a look at the new office.

The strike office is located at 17 Paradise Road South, Hamilton Ontario, L8S 1S1. The phone number is 905-528-CUPE (2873). E-mail addresses remain the same, and should continue uninterrupted over the weekend. The location of the strike office is highlighted on this link:

The office is accessible, and temporary parking is available on the side streets near the office.

We remain hopeful that a settlement is possible at the table. In the event that a settlement is reached this Thursday or Friday, regular office functions will continue at the Wentworth House Office early next week.

It is only by standing together that we can reach a fair deal.

In solidarity,
Mary Ellen Campbell

October 26, 2009

Dear Members,
We will be holding a special information meeting for Unit 1 members to answer outstanding questions about what happens in the event of a Unit 1 Strike at McMaster this Wednesday, October 28, starting at 5:00 P.M. in Divinity College, Room 136.
Agenda items include answers to questions you may have about:
-how you can still help to avert a strike
-what happens if you choose to work during a strike
-strike policies and practices, such as strike pay and applying for strike pay, benefits during a strike, hardship applications, strike work accommodations, and academic work
-answers to questions you may have about picket lines, picket shifts

Please continue checking out our bargaining blog at for more information, including an FAQ that covers some of these questions.
Also, most members will have received an e-mail from the Employer today about working during a strike. It is crucial that members become fully informed about the consequences of doing so; as such we will be providing more information about this later in the day.

Please stay tuned for more updates. While your bargaining team will work diligently at the mediation table this week, we need to be prepared in the event that the Employer forces us out on strike.
In solidarity,
Mary Ellen Campbell
President, CUPE 3906

October 23, 2009

Dear Unit 1 Members,

Human Resources sent out a message to all TAs and RAs this morning. In the interests of transparency, our bargaining team would like to address the misleading statements made in the email.

McMaster says:
You will get a raise of $1.30 per hour: Class A = $ 39.30, Class B= $22.05.
TAs will be eligible for the Class A rate once they have their 1st undergraduate degree.

The truth:
The actual increase for Class A TAs is $0.80 (2%) in year 1 and $0.50 (1.3%) in year 2.
This proposed wage increase still doesn’t even begin to cover the money taken off our paycheques due to McMaster’s 8% tuition hike – and the situation is likely to get even worse in year 2 when the administration follows through on its plans to hike tuition rates yet again.
TAs with an undergraduate degree should ALWAYS have been eligible for the Class A rate, the only reason they weren’t was a wording loophole that existed in the contract and that McMaster realized they could exploit.
Instead of inadequate wage increases that are worth less and less with each tuition hike, we’ve proposed to put moderate increases in total compensation towards addressing the erosion of take home pay, working conditions and class sizes, and benefits deficits.

McMaster says:
McMaster pays $150,000 each year into your benefit plan, that’s an increase of 50% since 2005. The number of TAs has remained stable during that time.

The Truth:
McMaster does contribute $150,000 towards your benefits — this was an increase negotiated in the last collective agreement which expired on August 31, 2009.
McMaster has proposed to FREEZE these funds and “not put a single penny more” into benefits.
In other words, that’s an increase of 0% since September 2008.
We’re proposing to continue the tradition of small, incremental increases to benefits that the university cites in previous contracts.
McMaster says:
McMaster also pays two-thirds of your monthly dental plan.

The Truth:
McMaster pays about 2/3 the cost of the single dental coverage if (and ONLY if) you are a Class A TA with a contract for 130 or more hours.
For a significant portion of our members (about 35%) absolutely NO contribution to dental coverage is provided by McMaster.
McMaster only contributes about 25% of the cost of dental coverage for TAs with families.
We’ve in fact proposed that the University contribute about 2/3 the cost of the dental coverage for the majority of our members, including those with families.
If McMaster really is ready to cover 2/3 the cost of our member’s monthly dental premiums, they should propose it at the bargaining table, rather than through an email.

McMaster says:
New protections so you won’t have to work past the end of the academic term and a better way to assign your work hours.

The truth:
Class sizes continue to increase dramatically and TAs continue to be overworked. It’s common for TAs to work 20-50% more hours than they are paid for.
McMaster’s proposed contract does absolutely nothing to address any of these issues.
McMaster has gone so far as to say at the table that an increase in the paid hours of work is “non-negotiable” and that proposals to address class size and overwork are “non-starters.”
Job Security

McMaster says:
Better job guarantees and improved flexibility.

The truth:
We have no idea what this refers to.
McMaster has not proposed an increase in the guarantee for graduate TAs.
As for flexibility, McMaster has a history of being completely inflexible for TA assignments, they unilaterally move TAs to other departments and require them to teach courses they have no background in.
Our bargaining team would appreciate to know what increased flexibility for our members is available in the currently draconian top-down system.
Continue to think critically and examine the actual packages offered by both sides, read our blog:


October 13, 2009

Dear Members,

1. General Membership Meeting: October 20, 2009; Divinity College Room 136; Refreshments served at 5:00 P.M.; Meeting starts at 5:30 P.M.

2. Survey of Picket Lines: October 15, 2009

3. Important Information about Working Groups


1. The next GMM will be held on October 20th, 2009 in Divinity College Room 136. Members of all Units are encouraged to attend. Stewards should attend this meeting. Refreshments will be served, and childcare costs can be reimbursed.

Agenda items include:
-Discussion and vote of Unit 3 Dues (re: ongoing Unit 3 bylaw proposals)
-Unit 1 bargaining update and announcement of upcoming strike training/picket captain training
-Election of Officers: Unit 2 Chief Steward; Unit 3 Chief Steward; International Officer; Undergraduate Officer
-Election of Unit 1 Bargaining Team Members: Undergraduate Representative; International Representative; Unit 3 Representative
-Update/Discussion of Working Group Proposals (Please see details below)
-Brief Report-Back: CUPE National Convention


2. Survey of Picket Lines

On Thursday, October 15th, a member of the Ontario University Workers’ Coordinating Committee Strike Task Force will be visiting McMaster to help members determine picket line organization and safety in the event of a unit 1 strike or lockout. All members are welcome and encouraged to attend this briefing and survey of the campus. Interested members can meet in the CUPE 3906 office at 11:00 A.M., or contact for more information.


3. Important Information regarding Working Groups

At our last GMM the membership decided to set aside ten thousand dollars for the creation of working groups focused on issues of social justice, solidarity, anti-oppression and democracy, all broadly defined.

Two main goals lie behind this decision. First, we hope to encourage greater participation in the union by putting tools and resources in the hands of our members. It is our hope that members will take advantage of this opportunity to work on issues of importance to them on campus and beyond.

Second, in keeping with the social justice mission of our union and the labour movement, we hope to increase the work that the union already puts in towards making this campus and the wider community a more just and equal place.

Examples of potential working groups include: an accessibility working group to make McMaster a more enabling place for people with disabilities; an unorganized worker outreach group to support unionized workers in their struggles for basic dignity on the job; the creation of a peer-reviewed journal to encourage research and writing on issues important to our members and to the mission of the union. Anything else you can think of that fits under the guidelines provided in the motion!

The exact wording of the motion that was passes will be available shortly at our blog: We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity and submit a proposal for working groups by the next GMM on October 20, 2009 (though proposals can be submitted throughout the year).

Proposals should include a budget, organizational structure and mandate. On the blog you will also find the guidelines of the Political Action Committee which you may use as a framework.

Our staff and executive members are also available to help you develop your proposals. Please take advantage of us and this opportunity. Together we can make our union an even greater force for social justice and equality on campus and beyond.


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