Unit 1 Bargaining Bulletin #4


Your elected Unit 1 Bargaining Team (Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants in Lieu) has set a strike deadline of November 21st at 12:01am in our ongoing negotiations with McMaster University.

We met with the Employer on October 20th and 27th, 2022 with a provincially appointed conciliation officer following a record-breaking strike vote. Heartened by the fantastic strike vote turn-out and result, the team focused on key proposals in the areas that members identified as priorities (financial security, mental and physical well-being, and working conditions) in our talks with the Employer. The Employer responded with a proposal that includes moderate increases to benefits funding (including funding to establish a modest gender affirmation and reproductive health fund), and a small increase to wages over a 3-year contract (putting an extra 0.25% increase in graduate wages in the third year of a contract and an additional 0.75% to undergraduate wages over the course of a 3-year contract).

While the Team was pleased to see proposals in benefits and slight movement in wages, the Employer’s negotiators are still refusing to make meaningful movement on specific proposals that address our members’ chronic financial insecurity and stagnant funding (e.g., those that address fifth year funding, priority hiring for existing members, closing the gap between undergraduate and graduate pay, and tuition reimbursements).

Given the lack of progress on these key, fundamental issues, the Union’s bargaining team requested a “no-board” report from the Conciliation Officer. This request represents the next step required in the negotiation process to exert pressure on the university by triggering a 17-day count-down to a legal strike or lockout position. We’ve received the no board report today, setting a strike deadline of November 21st at 12:01am.

“It is our hope that the Employer realizes just how serious our members are about meaningfully addressing the profound affordability crisis student workers at McMaster are facing,” says CUPE 3906 President Chris Fairweather. “Those at the very top of the McMaster Administration, who are ultimately responsible for deciding everything about our time at McMaster, from how much tuition we pay to how much we have to live on as workers and students, must pay attention to the real possibility of a strike. They are woefully out-of-touch not only with the day-to-day struggles we face, but also those that the majority of students, workers, and community members face. We are already in crisis at McMaster—students see this in their exhausted TAs and peers who increasingly work multiple jobs on and off campus or go into tens of thousands of dollars in debt to make ends meet. It’s extremely disappointing and unfortunate, but perhaps the McMaster Administration will only understand the extent of this crisis by facing a picket line.”

The Parties have agreed to continue negotiations up to the strike deadline of November 21st at 12:01am. The next scheduled negotiation date is November 18th, 2022. Members will be provided instructions on what occurs during the strike if a strike is called.

McMaster TAs and RAs (in lieu) must prepare for the possibility of a strike. To join the Strike Committee, contact strikecochairs@cupe3906.org and attend our next strike committee meeting, which is happening November 10th, 2022, at 6:00pm on Zoom. You can find the links to register for all upcoming meetings here. To sign up for strike duties, please complete the picket duties sign-up form as soon as possible. For general information about what a strike would entail, please visit our Strike FAQ webpage.