September 4, 2019
HAMILTON, ON — As many of our Unit 1 Members (TAs and RAs in-lieu) are already aware, the Union and the Employer recently arrived at an impasse. Non-monetary items aside, the Employer has continued to bargain within the parameters of a bill that is not yet law but, if passed, would have disastrous effects on public sector workers across Ontario: Doug Ford’s Bill 124.
Even when we made it known we would consider accepting the 1% wage cap contained in Bill 124 in exchange for significant and meaningful movement on minimum 65-hour contracts, 5th year TA guarantees, tuition freezes, paid pedagogical and anti-oppression training, and closing the Class A and B wage gaps, the Employer did not hesitate to make their lack of interest in genuine negotiations exceedingly clear.
In addition to this refusal, and in the final hours of our most recent day at the bargaining table, the Employer informed us that they no longer intend to bargain with us unless we settle an outstanding grievance. Because the grievance process is a labour relations issue and not a collective bargaining issue, this effectively signals that we are at an impasse.
Since both sides are evidently so far apart at the bargaining table, we have now officially filed for conciliation: a process wherein a neutral third party from the Ministry of Labour comes to assist with negotiations. We remain steadfast in representing YOUR interests and are optimistic that a negotiated settlement can be reached.
One of the best ways to maximize our effectiveness during conciliation is by holding a strike vote. With this, you might ask, Would a positive strike vote mean we have to go on strike? The answer to this question is NO. A positive strike vote from our Members would authorize the Bargaining Team to call a strike if, through the conciliation process, the Employer remains unwilling to give us a fair deal that reflects the priorities of our membership. By contrast, failing to authorize a strike would signal to the University that our Members are willing to accept whatever crumbs we are given, including the 1% wage caps and none of the previously discussed gains that could offset the harms of Bill 124 and our already devastating precarity as TAs and RAs in-lieu at McMaster.
The Unit 1 Bargaining Team