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


We’ve had some difficulties with the account. Please instead email to arrange alternate duties, if you are unable to picket.


Dear CUPE 3906 Members,

Just a quick message about blog comments and responses.  (Thanks for all of your input!)

First, please be advised that active members of the CUPE 3906 Strike Committee are working hard to win you a fair contract at the bargaining table and to support you on the picket lines.  As such, while we are working on moderating comments made on the blog, delays can be expected.  

Elected officers are working hard to respond to comments, especially when they pose questions.  Members with specific questions or personal comments should e-mail

Finally, all members and blog readers who are participating in discussion on our blog must adere to the union’s equality statement.   Posts that violate the equity statement will not be posted. 

Thanks everyone. Let’s keep the bargaining blog informative and respectful.


Dear Unit 1 members, and members of the McMaster community,

Earlier today, we sent a message stating that talk between the university administration and your bargaining team had resumed and that picket lines had been temporarily taken down a step (and had become information leafletting on the sidewalk, rather than full pickets) in order to facilitate the beginning of talks. 

The union and employer agree to meet at 9:30, and although the administration arrived more than an hour later, we still engaged with them in discussions. 

We reminded them of the results of the vote last night, at which 69% of voting members voted to reject sending the university’s offer to a ratification vote. 

In summary, they tabled no modifications to their proposal, and informed the union that their current offer will “expire” at 12:01am on Tuesday, November 10. 

As of Noon today, full picket lines have resumed, and will be running as normal for the remainer of the day and throughout the week. 

CUPE 3906’s bargaining team is writing this message from the bargaining table, and we will stay here and attempt to bargain a better offer for members for as long as they are willing. 

More updates will follows as they are available. 

In solidarity,

The Bargaining Team







Our apologies, this file did not go correctly over our list last night. The file is available below:

CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Position Document – Nov 1


Dear members;

As you know, late last night we received a message from the University indicating that they would be willing to meet with us only on the condition that we call off the strike. Particularly as there was no indication from them at that time that they had any intention of changing their offer, we reaffirmed that we would come back to the table – and were eager to – but that we could not in good conscience call of the strike.

This morning they contacted us again, with a modified position. They are willing to meet with us at the table if we pull back the pickets and agree to allow traffic to continue through the lines. The pickets would remain with all signs, leafleting activities, and we would remain on strike. The moment that talks break down, it is understood that the barricades will go back up.

After some quick but serious discussion, the bargaining team decided to give the decision to the lines. It is, after all, our members out on the lines that are supporting us that have pressured the University to come back to the table and we work at the direction of our members. The lines have unanimously sent us back to the table.

The strike is still on. Picket lines are still up, although they are not stopping traffic, and members are still protected by all strike regulations and will still receive strike pay. You should still show up to your picket shifts, and it is more important than ever that people come out today! The pressure is working to move a deal forward, let’s keep it up! When you arrive, you will receive instructions as to how to carry out the pickets. Your bargaining team is back at the table, working hard to come to a fair collective agreement. The struggle is still ongoing, but we are strong and have every confidence that these changes are positive!

We wanted to sincerely thank all members who have come out to the lines in support of the strike – it is because of you that these advances are possible!

Keep your eyes on the blog for updates, and we will send you another message as soon as we can.

In solidarity,

Your Bargaining Team


Unit 1 Members,

As communicated in previous emails this weekend, the university’s bargaining team walked away from the negotiations on Saturday morning at 4am after the union rejected a completely unacceptable “final offer” package. McMaster made this offer with the full expectation that it would be rejected and that it would result in a strike. Although your bargaining team was committed to keeping negotiations open in order to work towards a collective agreement, since the strike deadline had passed and the university had left the negotiations, the bargaining team made the decision to call a strike. Strike action will commence on Monday November 2nd at 7:30 am.

A special membership meeting was held Sunday afternoon at 4pm. The meeting began with bargaining team presentation and open discussion on the university’s final package and the union’s current position. Our position document is attached to this email. Please remember that, unlike the university’s package, this is not a final offer and will be subject to further revision during negotiations. We then addressed whether or not the membership was interested in a ratification vote of the university’s current “final offer”. After a straw poll, a motion was put forward to bring this package to a ratification vote. The motion was defeated by 69% of the membership. Finally we presented frequently asked questions about the strike and answered questions from the floor.

We will be calling another general member’s meeting as soon as possible. Stay tuned for updates about the time and location.

Current Communications

After some communications with the university’s bargaining team during the afternoon, late this evening, our bargaining team heard through the Hamilton Spectator that McMaster was offering to come back to the table. Their conditions were that we stop job action and call off the strike. We agreed to meet with them at the requested time but did not agree to the conditions. These conditions are unacceptable; we cannot cease job action without a commitment on their part that they have a new offer that addresses our priority areas. Furthermore we believe that it would be irresponsible to call off job action at such short notice. Our members have already been locked out of ELM and many departments have already cancelled tutorials this week.

Strike Office and Picket Lines

Tomorrow morning the strike office will be open at 7:00am. Picket lines will be up at 7:30am. If you have signed up for picket duty please show up at the appropriate time. If you have not signed up for a picket duty tomorrow, you can sign up at the office or on the appropriate picket line.

The locations of the picket lines are as followed:
• Sterling street entrance – Humanities, Engineering, and Science
• Cootes drive entrance – Social sciences, Health sciences, and Business

There are 3 different picket shifts:
• 7:30am to 11:30am
• 11:30am to 3:30pm
• 3:30pm to 7:30pm

Transportation and Parking

We are encouraging individuals to take public transit to campus either via the Go bus, or Hamilton public transit. For those individuals who are commuting from out of town the union will provide a transportation stipend to cover the costs of the equivalent of GO transportation. For any individuals who cannot use public transit please come to the strike office to arrange other ways to get compensation for your travel time. Those individuals who currently hold parking permits, although we are dissuading individuals from coming onto campus unless completely necessary, you may park on campus. However please expect delays while driving onto campus.


We are currently working on arranging childcare accommodations for those members who have children. We hope to have this up and running by later in the week.

Alternate Duties to Picketing

For those who cannot physically go out on the lines there are alternative duties that you can sign up for. In order to arrange alternative duties please contact Joyne Lavides at

Strike Protocol

Your picket captains have been advised as to what the strike protocol is. Your picket captains will be wearing reflective vests. The protocol will be posted on the blog soon. Furthermore, do not forget that you must sign in and out in order to get paid for your hours on the line. For more information, please see the strike FAQ at

How Do I Dress?

Please check the weather before you head to campus tomorrow. We will be outside on picket lines for 4 hours at a time. Our best advice is to dress in layers!!


A general membership meeting to discuss issues pertaining to the upcoming strike action will be held at 4PM in the Burridge Gym on campus.

We need all Unit #1 members to attend this meeting, it is absolutely critical you come to get the latest information.


The executive, bargaining team and bargaining support team are calling an emergency
General Membership Meeting for tomorrow, Sunday, November 1st, 2009.  We are working very
hard to secure a location that will accommodate the membership.  The start time will be
about 4 P.M.  We will confirm the exact location and time as soon as possible.


Our bargaining team has compiled a document outlining our proposals as of the breakdown of bargaining on October 31 2009. This document is not binding, but is intended for information and dissemination purposes.

A finalized copy will be provided at the Information Meeting tentatively scheduled for Sunday November 1st, at which point the draft document will be deemed null and void. In the event that the meeting, due to uncontrollable circumstances, is rescheduled a final draft will be made available to members electronically.

The union’s position document is available here.

The employer’s final offer is available here.


Dear CUPE 3906 members and the McMaster Community,

As you know from our consistent blog updates and from the McMaster Daily News, the CUPE 3906 bargaining team received a “best offer” package from the employer at 4:14 am, Saturday morning. Inexplicably, the “best offer” is actually several backward steps removed from the offer that they presented less than 10 hours shy of the strike deadline. On monetary issues, the most significant retreat was resetting benefits funding to 2006 collective agreement levels. This was countered by a paltry 5 cent per hour increase to the wage rate. In short, they made no effort to address the core issues of workload, benefits and access to positions for fifth-year doctoral students.

Since the strike deadline has passed and with the employer walking away from the table without acknowledging any of the issues our members clearly have identified as priorities, the bargaining team has had no choice but to ask the mediator to inform the employer that TAs are ready to withdraw their labour until a fair settlement is reached. Job action will begin at 8:00 am on Monday, 2 November 2009 and at that time, CUPE 3906 Unit #1 will be on strike.

The bargaining team has prepared a position document which reflects the current status of its proposals. To be sure, this document represents, in substance and in detail, the framework for the ultimate collective agreement. We invite members to study the document and compare it to the skeletal script the employer advertises. In order to give all members the fullest sense of the situation we anticipate an information meeting will be held on Sunday, 1 November 2009. The time and the location of the meeting will be announced on our website, on our blog and via email as soon as the space is finalized.


Your Elected Bargaining Team