CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Blog
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Union and Employer Proposals in Context

It can sometimes be difficult to conceptualize the value of things when you’re dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars – or on the flip side, small hourly wage increases and modest increases to benefits to bring CUPE members in line with other TAs across the sector and other campus workers. Here are some quick comparisons to help put the union and employer’s monetary proposals into perspective:

1. Selected Breakdown of the McMaster Budget Chart

The current cost of the TA contract is around $18 million dollars. The total cost of most of the key CUPE proposals on the table right now is approximately $5 million dollars. Although these numbers might seem large, they are dwarfed by the University’s $830 million budget, and are less than the NEW government revenue and tuition hikes that McMaster will add to its budget this year.


As you can see from the above chart, the total cost of TA compensation and the combined cost of the primary CUPE proposals on the table right now are just drops in the bucket of McMaster’s total budget—respectively a mere 2.17% and 0.6% to be precise. Moreover, the $7.25 million in new revenue (one many revenue streams) generated by the expansion of the graduate program and the graduate tuition hike could make pay every single one of CUPE’s priority proposals and still have $2.25 million to spare.

2. How Does the Cost of TA Compensation Compare to Other Employee Groups?

The TA contract represents only a tiny fraction of the University’s overall budget, but how does it compare to the money spent on other groups of university employees?


As the above chart illustrates, only 4.10% of the money spent on salaries and benefits goes used to compensate Tas (about 2700 workers on campus) whereas 32% is spent on faculty (about 800 workers) and 28% is spent on support staff (about 2200 workers). The Public Sector Salaries Disclosure list further reveals that at least 24% of aggregate salaries, wages and benefits goes towards compensating employees earning over $100,000. This is a conservative estimate however, because the absence of all but two of the University’s Deans suggests that many of its highest paid employees were able to avoid disclosing their salaries.

Adding on the $5 million in new CUPE proposals, the proportion of salaries and benefits money spent on TA compensation and benefits would still be far below that of these other groups on campus.

3. How Does the Employer’s Offer Measure Up?

After rejecting all of CUPE’s monetary proposals, the Employer instead offered to increase Class A wages from $36.54 to $36.92/hour and Class B wages from $19.95/hour to $20.53/hour. How does this offer compare to other university expenditures?


As the above chart shows, not very favourably. The TOTAL wage increase offered to 2700 Unit 1 members are worth less to the university than “golden handshake” offered to top McMaster execs at the end of their contracts, one year of the President’s salary and benefits, or the signing bonus offered to a new VP.

4. What You Can Do With Your Proposed Wage Increase?

The Employer has offered a wage increase for Class A members in Year 1 that amounts to 38 cents/hour. This means an increase of $3.80 per week, $8.23 per month or $98.80 per year based on a full 260 hour Taship, minus payroll deductions and taxes.

To put this into perspective, here are some things you can do with your raise:

With $3.80 per week you can buy:

• 2 Tim Horton’s Coffees
• 1 can of beer
• a tin of soup
• a bag of peanuts

With an extra $8.25 a month you could buy:

• 2 boxes of cornflakes
• A large one topping pick up special pizza

With an extra $98.80 a year you could buy:

• the textbook for the course your TAing (McMaster refuses to continue covering this cost)
• 1/4 of your tuition increase for this year, or 1/8 if you are an international TA
• part of a plane ticket home if you can no longer afford to be a student at Mac




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