CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Blog
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Unit 2 Support and FAQ

Dear fellow Unit 2 Members,
The following email contains information for Unit 2 members (sessional faculty and sessional music faculty) regarding the current Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant strike at McMaster.  It is important that Sessional Faculty and Sessional Music Faculty are aware of their rights and obligations, as well as the ways in which we can assist our coworkers and fellow union members during the present job action. The next few days will be critical!  It is  particularly important that we join with the broader community of supportive McMaster students, faculty and union members who will be attending our Solidarity Rally on Thursday 4:30pm, at the Sterling Gate.  Transportation and childcare costs to attend this event can be reimbursed by our union  
Strikes are hectic and confusing times.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Strike Office with any questions:

Despite the intense efforts of the CUPE 3906 Unit 1 bargaining team (which includes one Unit 2 member, to ensure our interests and voice is represented) to negotiate a fair and reasonable collective agreement, Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants were forced to take strike action at 8:00am on Monday, November 2nd.  
Talks did not break down until the employer forced the issue by presenting a “best offer” which actually removed a number of key provisions included in earlier packages. Given that the university walked away from the table without addressing the legitimate concerns of our colleagues on issues such as workload, benefits and access to positions for fifth-year doctoral students, the bargaining team was left with little choice but to inform the mediator that TAs and RAs would withdraw their labour.
The membership of Unit 1 (about 2,700 members) has been clear in its rejection of this offer and voted strongly against  putting  the “best offer” to a ratification vote. McMaster’s recent actions make it clear that it is not participating in bargaining; rather, the university is bullying Unit 1 members.  When the bargaining team and the administration met yesterday at 3:30pm, the university presented the same “best offer,” but this time they made it conditional upon the bargaining team unanimously recommending it to the members. Because members have already declined to take this package to a vote, there is no way that the bargaining team can ever offer a recommendation to precisely the same package.

We recognize these strong-arm tactics from our last round of bargaining where we only narrowly avoided having to strike.  Unfortunately, our colleagues have not been so fortunate.  It is crucial now that the entire union show strong solidarity with TAs and RAs in order to demonstrate we cannot be pushed around.  In this way, we can encourage McMaster to negotiate towards a fair settlement and we can bring this strike to a successful conclusion.
The CUPE Unit 2 contract and McMaster Senate Policy both contain specific sections which obligate us to respect the legal job action of our co-workers. While Sessional Faculty members must cross the picket lines of striking employees in order to continue with their normal contractual teaching duties, Article 8.03 of our collective agreement is clear that Sessional Faculty cannot be required to perform the work normally done by Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants. You may adjust your curriculum in order to ensure that you are not performing the extra work of your TAs.

Moreover, undergraduate students have the right to choose not to participate in academic activities during a work stoppage under the McMaster Senate Policy on the Rights and Responsibilities of Students During Work Stoppages which can be found. In order to clarify these rights and obligations, we suggest that you adopt the following voluntary Code of Solidarity for the duration of the current job action:
If you are a supervisor of TAs, please know that you cannot attempt to influence their choice to strike.  If you have any questions about this situation, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the union at 905-528-CUPE.

Sessional Faculty members at McMaster fully support Teaching Assistants & Research Assistants in their fight for a fair contract and for a truly public education system.
We will respect our contract (Article 8.03) and refuse to lead tutorials, labs or grade assignments previously undertaken by co-workers.
We will assist Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants in their fair demand for protections against overwork, limits on tutorial sizes, protections against the erosion of benefits, protections against tuition increases, and work guarantees for graduate students.
We will respect the rights of all students who choose not to cross the picket line of striking employees.
We will recognize those student rights outlined in the Senate Policy on the Rights and Responsibilities of Students During Work Stoppages, including the right to extended deadlines, make-up assignments and alternative (off-campus) access to course materials.
As Sessional Faculty and CUPE 3906 members, it is vitally important that we take every opportunity to fully and actively support the Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants we work beside.
Join the lines! Even if you only have a few minutes before/after your lectures, we need you there!   Your act of support makes a real difference to our coworkers, and sends a clear message to the administration that Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants are not standing alone.
Come to the rally! Join with the broader community of supportive students, union members and faculty who will be attending a Solidarity Rally on Thursday 4:30pm, at the Sterling entrance.  

In order to obtain specific information on the bargaining process and proposals visit the Unit 1 bargaining website at In order to obtain regular updates and information on the ways in which Sessional Faculty can actively help your co-workers please contact


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