Unit 1 Bargaining Update #2
August 27, 2019
After a summer away from the bargaining table, your Union met with employer representatives from McMaster on August 21 and 22. While we made progress on some smaller issues, often involving day-to-day labour relations issues, no progress was made on larger items that you identified as priorities. These include extended guaranteed TAships for graduate students, meaningful wage increases, equal pay for all TAs, protection against tuition increases, a higher minimum number of hours on a contract, and access to paid training.
Unfortunately, the Employer’s proposals have remained the same since June – a ‘no’ to all proposals. McMaster will only negotiate within what it sees as the framework of Bill 124, a bill (which is not yet law) that would limit wage and benefits increases to 1% per year. At the same time, they have also proposed concessions that would see the erosion of graduate students’ guaranteed TAships and have tabled language that would see the elimination of a minimum number of hours per contract (currently set at a minimum of 32 hours). Finally, rather than establish paid anti-oppression and pedagogical training for TAs, McMaster has proposed a committee to determine if TA training is even ‘feasible.’ In a large and diverse university, we fail to see how TA training could possibly be unfeasible.
Where does CUPE stand?
Despite the fact that Bill 124 is not a law (and, as such, our feeling that we do not need to negotiate within its limitations), your Union explored all options to secure the best possible deal for TAs and RAs in lieu. In fact, we offered to consider a mere 1% wage increase, contingent on meaningful and substantial movement from the Employer on the following key issues, each of which can still be bargained within McMaster’s self-imposed limitations of Bill 124:
· Minimum 65-hour contracts
· 5th year guaranteed TAships
· Tuition Freeze
· Paid Training (Pedagogical & Anti-Oppression)
· Closing the Class A and B wage gaps
These five items speak to several of the priorities our members made clear to us through our Bargaining Survey. Unfortunately, McMaster signaled that it has no interest in moving forward on these terms, leaving us with virtually no way of moving forward while representing the interests of our members.
On August 22nd your Union was shocked to hear that, in addition to rejecting our proposed framework, McMaster University was signalling an impasse by effectively walking away from the bargaining table. This decision was ostensibly made in light of a policy grievance CUPE had filed weeks ago, alleging that some employees who should be covered by the Collective Agreement were not (and, as such, were denied benefits and wages). For obvious reasons, we find ourselves questioning the Employer’s last-minute decision not to resume negotiations pending an arbitration ruling on this specific grievance.
Essentially, after we had presented a framework through which CUPE would consider a 1% wage increase in exchange for meaningful movement on a higher minimum number of hours, expanded graduate guarantees, protection from tuition increases, paid TA training, and equitable wages for all TAs, McMaster University signaled that it had zero interest in moving forward on such terms. This is completely unnecessary and could undoubtedly cause major delays in the bargaining process.
What do we go from here?
CUPE remains committed to continuing to bargain in good faith. Not only have we proposed a framework to move forward with securing a fair collective agreement, we believe that the parties can and should continue to bargain in good faith for the benefit of our members regardless of the status of ongoing grievances.
CUPE is ready to continue to bargain a fair and meaningful deal for its members and that one that works for all parties. We are no longer confident that McMaster shares this goal.
We will continue to reach to members and move forward with the hopes of moving past this impasse that we feel McMaster has created.
|JOB SECURITY and HOURS OF WORK
|· Standard 5-year TA guarantee for PhD students
· Standard 2-year TA guarantee for Masters’ students
|· No extension of guaranteed funding period
· No minimum number of hours per contract
|· 5% increases per year for all members in recognition of increases to the cost of living & historical wage stagnation.
· Equal pay for undergraduate and graduate TA/RAs.
|· 1% per year for all members, following what they believe Bill 124 will require of them if it becomes law.
· Additional 0.35% per year for all members if Bill 124 does not pass
|· Optional paid training for professional development and anti-oppression practices
|· No paid training for professional development or anti-oppression
· Option to strike a committee to discuss the “feasibility” of additional training (paid or unpaid)
|· Tuition reimbursements freezing the cost of tuition at the 2018-2019 domestic student rate for all members
|· No tuition waiver/reimbursement
|· Employer to pay 50% of UHIP costs
· General increases to Benefits Funds that respond adequately to rising insurance rates and service costs
· $10,000 gender-affirmation fund
|· No increase to benefits funds over 2-years
· Committee to discuss supports for gender-affirmation
How can you help?