HAMILTON, ON — Unionized postdoctoral fellows at McMaster University voted Thursday to ratify their priorities for the 2019 round of collective bargaining with the university administration.
The key priorities approved by members are:
- Increasing wages
- Recognising family status and support
- Expanding workplace benefits
- Supporting academic and career development
- Creating a pension plan
These priorities emerged out of a survey circulated to members by the bargaining team back in February, which generated a record number of responses.
Zobia Jawed, CUPE 3906 Benefits Officer and member of the Unit 3 bargaining team, introduced the meeting by providing an overview of the five priorities identified by the bargaining survey, and, along with the members present, explored the content of each priority.
One of the priorities that generated plenty of discussion among members was the creation of a pension plan. “Currently, we don’t have access to a pension plan,” said Jawed. “But I want to ensure I have some amount of financial support available for me when I retire.”
The time spent on postdoctoral fellowships and other limited-term teaching and research work in Canada has been steadily increasing, and academic workers are not finding permanent jobs until later in life. As a consequence, Canadian postdoctoral fellows experience a extended periods of their career where no contributions to their retirement are being made by their employer.
“There is a very large difference in retirement savings between a worker who benefits from pension contributions immediately post-PhD, and a worker who has to wait until after their postdoc positions are over,” says Toby Brown, a member of the Unit 3 bargaining team. “It’s important that we find a way to address this earnings gap.”
“You can help us fight for your pension in this bargaining round,” added Brown, who spoke strongly in favour of the pension proposal. “Help us get over the line and secure this victory.”
With the five main priorities ratified, Unit 3 members have provided the bargaining team with a clear mandate at the bargaining table.
“In this round of bargaining, we need to come together to fight the growth of precarious work on our campus,” said CUPE 3906 President Angie Perez. “Postdocs contribute so much to the McMaster community, and they deserve support to build a family and plan for the future.”
The bargaining team will now work with CUPE 3906 staff to craft proposals that advance each of the main priorities, and these will then be presented as a package of proposals to the employer’s bargaining team when they meet in May.
Unit 3 is CUPE 3906’s smallest unit with just over 170 members, and consists of postdoctoral fellows working at McMaster University. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.
For more information:
Zobia Jawed, CUPE 3906 — Unit 3 Bargaining Team, firstname.lastname@example.org
Angie Perez, CUPE 3906 President, email@example.com