Dear McMaster Community Members,
Despite our best efforts to bargain in good faith and secure a fair collective agreement that helps us get ahead rather than falling further behind, talks with the university have broken down and we are calling a strike. Faced with once-in-a-generation inflation, on the heels of several years without a meaningful pay increase, the university is refusing to consider reasonable proposals to improve our financial security, including real wage increases, extended guarantees, tuition reimbursements, and closing the pay gap between undergrad and graduate TAs. We are one-third of the workforce at McMaster, but our wages account for only 3.7% of the yearly payroll. There is absolutely no reason the university can’t offer us these improvements.
Starting Monday, November 21st at 7:00am, picket lines will go up at entrances around the campus and Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants-in-lieu will begin withholding our labour. We do not take this action lightly. We acknowledge that this will be disruptive to students, who have already experienced so much disruption over the past few years. But we are students, too. We are fighting to ensure that your Teaching Assistants now and for years to come are able to provide for themselves and their families, and to provide the very best support to other students as they can.
Please know that we have done everything within our power to convince the employer that we deserve a fair agreement. They did not come to the table prepared to bargain with us in a way that reflects the seriousness of the financial situation many of us are facing. They wasted the entire summer not meeting with us, and they only bothered to get permission to bargain wages from the Board of Governors in September, after our collective agreement had already expired. They have never taken this process seriously.
To those of you in the community, including many faculty members, who have spoken out in support of us: thank you. Know that we have seen each and every message and that we appreciate them all dearly. We hope this strike will be resolved quickly, but we are not willing to back down from our conviction that we deserve some semblance of financial security in the face of a cost of living crisis, especially when we work for and contribute to such a profoundly wealthy institution.
The CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Team