CUPE 3906 Bargaining Bulletin #1 — Unit 1: TAs and RAs (in lieu)


HAMILTON, ON — The CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Team met face-to-face with the Employer’s Bargaining Team for the first time this bargaining round on June 11-12, 20, and 24, 2019.  

Your Union presented a package addressing all of the priorities that were passed at our April 15, 2019 Special General Membership Meeting, including increased funding, expanding mental and physical health and wellness supports, increasing paid training (both pedagogical and anti-oppression), better representation for indigenous members, and improved working conditions. Notably, this included expanding the ‘guarantee’ period for doctoral students to five years and providing a longer guarantee for Master’s students.

So far, the parties have made progress on several articles that address the daily function of labour/management relations, health and safety, pregnancy leave, and support for survivors of domestic assault and sexual harassment. 

The Employer also proposed a semester-long probation period, which would have allowed for the termination of contracts after the first term and, as such, increased the precarity of our situation as workers for the following 3.5 years. Thankfully we were able to push the Employer to withdraw this proposal. 

The compensation package the Employer has presented is below inflation and will effectively result in a pay decrease. The McMaster Administration has been emboldened by Doug Ford’s proposed ‘Bill 124’ and is refusing to offer anything above 1% total compensation (including wages, benefits, and other funds).

At the moment, the Employer appears committed to severely limiting improvements to our contract based on the prospect of Doug Ford’s Bill 124. We are especially disappointed not to have reached agreements on the following issues:

  • tuition waivers as an option to improve the financial situation of our members;
  • commitment to pedagogical or anti-oppression training, however there is a proposal on the
  • table to strike a committee over the next two years to determine the “feasibility” of such training; 
  • increasing the minimum number of hours on a contract from 32 to 65 (the Employer is proposing no minimum on the number of hours they’d need to assign, which will make work even more precarious); 
  • restrictions on the Employer’s ability to contract out or assign volunteers to do work normally associated with our unit (This means that they are refusing to guarantee they will not, for instance, hire an outside company to do marking for online courses or try to establish volunteer programs to conduct the services we normally do).

The employer has also proposed removing language from our Collective Agreement which recognizes a normal expectation of 10hrs/week (or 130hrs per term / 260hrs per two terms) for Unit 1 work, thus opening the door for more precarity and less job security. 

Given the pressure we are facing from the Employer’s Bargaining Team, McMaster’s Board of Governors, and the provincial government, we need your support now more than ever. 

Did you know: there are many ways that you can keep up-to-date with negotiations and support your Bargaining Team? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Download, print, and share the petition to McMaster President Patrick Deane in support of our bargaining demands.
  • Take a picture with the #BetterMac window sign and tag us on social media. Visit for a copy of the sign, or drop by the Union Office at Kenneth Taylor Hall, room B111 to participate!
  • Attend a bargaining support committee meeting and participate in bargaining support activities. Our Bargaining Team is only as strong as the members who support us, so show that support by getting involved in the committee. The next meeting is on Wednesday, July 17, from 12:30-2:00pm in Kenneth Taylor Hall, room B111.

To learn more about Bill 124 and how that impacts our union, click here.

Unit 1 is CUPE 3906’s largest unit with over 2,900 members, and includes graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, research assistants (in lieu of a TAship), demonstrators, markers, tutors and super tutors. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.