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

Priorities and Guiding Principles

Prior to the development of bargaining proposals in the late Spring, Unit 1 members of CUPE 3906 developed and raftified a series of “guiding principles” and bargaining priorities designed to give direction to their elected bargaining team when working on behalf of the membership at the negotiations table.  Your bargainign team has conveyed to the employer, time and time again, that gains must be made in all priority areas in order for a fair contract to be reached.  That said, members are invited and encouraged to attend GMMs, Bargaining Support Committee and Bargaining Committee meetings, in order to continue to discuss and prioritize the issues at the forefront in ongoing talks this Fall. 

How much progress will be possible on any given issue will depend on the strength of the membership and the support afforded to our bargaining team thorugh a strong strike mandate vote.   If we stand together and support eachother in achieving our priorities, we can stop concessions and make improvements to our contract this year and beyond, not just for ourselves, but for students and workers at McMaster, present and future.  Thank you for your ongoing support. 

Guiding Principles ~

Based on the results of our consultation sessions, survey, and member communiqués and visits since the expiration of our last contract, the Bargaining Support Committee has identified three key negotiating principles which shall guide this round of negotiations:

Expansion of Benefits: members have identified a preference for an increase in non-taxable benefits and protections against the erosion of take-home pay over a large-scale increase in wages (especially those of Class “A”).  Benefits, in this context, include health benefits, funds, and professional development supports.  Erosion protections, such as a tuition rebate, post-residency fees, and increases to the “minimum guarantee,” rather than simply the wage rate.   

Equitable Access to Contract Provisions: members have stressed the importance of ensuring that all members gain access to current and new benefits, are paid fairly and equitably for their work, and have access to CA rights and protections.     

Working Conditions and Job Security: members have identified a need to ensure protections against workload increases, such as caps in tutorial size, improved access to resources, stronger seniority protections and expansion of the guaranteed pool. These concerns are connected to members’ interests in professional development and concern over pedagogical integrity and the quality of education afforded to students. 

Structural Changes to University Governance: members articulated a desire to continue to fight for a more equitable and just university, governed by and for the students and workers who ARE the university, rather than by overpaid bureaucrats who exploit and devalue the university.  This includes seeking changes to decision-making structures (BoG, Senate, Faculty Councils), pay structures (reduce VP salaries, not TA benefits), and guiding principles (education, not profit).

Bargaining Priorities ~

The Unit 1 membership has identified three priority areas for this round of negotiations, each containing a number of specific prioritized proposals:

 1.  Benefits and Funding Supports

  •  increases in non-taxable benefits and new funds (e.g., PhD completion fund, employer contributions to MSU and GSA Benefits Plans)
  • employer hardship and childcare fund contributions
  • professional development and conference travel funds
  • tuition rebate and post-residency fee rate
  • protection for international students (UHIP and fee subsidy guarantee)
  • improvement to leaves and clarity of leave language

 2.  Job Security, Funding Security and Pay Equity

  •  5th and 6th year PhD funding guarantee extension 
  • improvement to Class “B” rate, and increased TA positions for grad students 
  • protection from wage erosion (to protecting against scholarship erosion)
  • minimum guarantee provision written into contract
  • guarantee of full TA/RA employment contracts
  • increase paid hours in recognition of hours that are worked
  • fix “10 Hour Rule” language
  • union service support to make member participation more accessible/equitable

 3.  Working Conditions

  •  protection from overwork and increased class sizes (caps and “trigger” levels)
  • access to resources (such as software, computers, printing, office space)
  • professional development training (ie. new RA positions that provide training)
  • anti-harassment and anti-oppression protections worked in to course structures
  • resources for students (ie. counseling, procedures for work and illness, etc)
  • payment for post-contract work (ie. re-grading and academic honesty cases)
  • clearer language around type of work/duties to ensure all work is paid
  • academic deadline protection and language around concentration of hours

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