Hamilton, ON— The front-line instructors responsible for a significant proportion of undergraduate teaching at McMaster University have concluded a strike vote after three days of socially distant voting. Sessional Faculty and Hourly-Rated Sessional Music Faculty at McMaster University, comprising CUPE Local 3906 (Unit 2), voted 81% in favour of providing their Bargaining Committee with a strike mandate should negotiations the table with the McMaster Administration fail.
A historic number of members participated in the vote between October 14th and October 16th, which was held online due to pandemic safety measures and restricted access to the University campus. The Bargaining Team is overwhelmed that so many members participated in the vote. “We are grateful that members demonstrated such strong support for the Union’s proposals on the table,” says Sharoni Mitra, the Local’s President, “especially given the pressures and stress that members already face due to the pandemic, the increasingly precarious nature of employment at postsecondary institutions, and the restrictions imposed on front-line public sector workers by the Ford government’s legislation.”
This 81% mandate highlights the Employer’s need to take members’ concerns to heart immediately or face job action. Proposals that erode job security and make already precarious work more piecemeal must be removed from the table. The Employer must work with the Union to find ways to support members’ access to the training and resources they need to continue providing the teaching excellence on which McMaster prides itself. Finally, proposals that address members’ fundamental needs—such as improvements to basic health funds and a promise not to reduce positions in the move to online teaching—must not be neglected in such volatile times where front-line workers everywhere are struggling.
The results of this vote do not mean that a strike is forthcoming, but do empower the bargaining team to call a strike should negotiations not provide meaningful gains to members. The next step in the bargaining process is conciliation, in which a provincially appointed conciliation officer will meet with the parties. Conciliation is scheduled on Tuesday, October 20th, and Wednesday, October 21st, 2020. More days may be scheduled if progress continues and the Parties agree to meet.
Local 3906 is eager to put the support of its members into action at the bargaining table and is committed to membership engagement throughout the process. Please watch for our updates and additional bargaining support initiatives.
CUPE Local 3906 (Unit 2) represents over 500 Sessional Faculty and Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.