Bargaining Bulletin #3 – Conciliation, Strike Vote and SGMM

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear Unit 2 Members,

Following two weeks of negotiations, the Unit 2 Bargaining Team (representing Sessional Faculty and Hourly Rated Music Faculty) has reached an impasse with the Employer due to a number of outstanding issues including improvements to job security and transparency in hiring, technological support for remote teaching, and reasonable working hours. The University is once again relying on Bill 124 to justify below-inflation wage increases, and is refusing to entertain alternatives to wage increases like paid training as a way to keep sessionals from falling further behind. 

As a result of the impasse, the Unit 2 Bargaining Team has called for a strike vote and requested the assistance of a government-appointed conciliator to try to keep talks moving. As Unit 2 moves toward the possibility of job action within the unprecedented context of a global pandemic, sessionals need our support more than ever. All members are asked to consider joining the Bargaining Support Committee so that we can begin to build the capacity we will need to support sessionals should job-action be necessary. If you are interested in joining, please send an email to our Member Mobilizer, Sylvia, at Please also follow us on social media and share our posts to help get the message out! 

Do you want to send McMaster the message that you support our Bargaining Team in demanding a fairer contract for Sessional Faculty? Sign the petition:

The Next Bargaining Support Committee Meeting is scheduled for 2-3pm on Monday October 5, 2020. 


Your CUPE3906 Executive Team 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About a Potential Sessional Faculty/HRSMF Strike or Lockout at McMaster


  • What is a strike vote and why is the Union calling for one? 

It is normal for a Union to ask for a strong “strike vote” during the process of any legal contract negotiations in Canada.  In fact, CUPE 3906’s TA and RA (in lieu) and Sessional Faculty/Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty (HRSMF) bargaining teams have asked for a strong strike vote from its membership in virtually every single contract negotiations in the past 35+ years, and there have only ever been 2 TA and RA strikes (and 1 “wildcat” Sessional Faculty strike) since our unionization in the late 1970s. 

A strike vote is called by the Union’s bargaining team when the Union requires more leverage at the bargaining table.  Generally speaking, the bargaining team feels that it has negotiated as much as it can with the Employer, and needs to demonstrate the membership’s support for the union and the membership’s bargaining priorities before any more progress can be made. 

The exact wording of the strike vote question may vary, but it always asks the same basic question: do you authorize your bargaining team to call a strike if negotiations fail at the bargaining table?  A strong “yes” to this question with as many members voting as possible is the best scenario: it says to the Employer that they have a “last chance” to return to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith to get a deal or else the members are prepared to proceed to the “next steps” in the legal bargaining process: conciliation, mediation, and, finally, a strike.  

  • Why should we vote yes if there’s a strike vote? 

It is important to vote yes during a strike vote for a number of reasons. First of all, more people voting yes means that we’ll end up with a strong vote. In this situation, a strong vote means that we have 80 – 90 percent of the membership voting “yes”. Based on past experiences, what we’ve seen time and time again is that when we have a strong strike vote, we end up with a strong collective agreement. It sounds counter-intuitive but the stronger the strike vote, the less likely we are to go on strike. This is because a strong strike vote sends a clear message to the employer that we mean business and are not interested in dragging things out at the negotiating table. 

Secondly, voting yes in a strike vote is a great way to be involved in the collecting bargaining process so as to ensure that your union works for you. Being a Sessional Faculty and/or HRSMF automatically makes you a part of the union but that is simply not enough. This is a way for your voice to be heard and for you to be a part of the decision-making process of your union. As with so many things in life, if you do not make a decision, someone else will end up making the decision for you and more often than not, the decision made for you is not going to be one that you like. 

Finally, a strong strike vote often leads to a strong collective agreement. Paying union dues is part of being a member of the union.  Put it this way: you’re already paying dues so why not be involved? Also, you will keep paying dues in the future regardless of what kind of collective agreement we end up with. If that is the case, don’t you want to ensure that you will be paying dues towards an agreement that you’re happy with? It makes more sense to pay dues towards a collective agreement that works for you as opposed to one that negatively affects you.

  • Who can vote in a Unit 2 (Sessional Faculty and HRSMF) strike vote? 

Only members of Unit 2 (Sessional Faculty and HRSMF) may vote in a Unit 2 strike vote.  The following members of Unit 2 may vote in a strike vote: 

  1. Members who are working as Sessional Faculty and HRSMF this term; 
  2. Members who hold an Appointment to teach as a Sessional Faculty and HRSMF from Sept 1, 2020-Aug 31, 2021;
  3. “Political” members of the union (i.e., members who have held a contract work as a Sessional Faculty and/or HRSMF in the last two academic terms—i.e., winter 2020 or spring/summer 2020).