Unit 1 Bargaining Bulletin #5


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 many 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.

The university’s big eleventh-hour pitch to try to avoid a strike was a $40,000 fund for the union to administer to offer some relief to 5th year PhD students. No job security for overtime PhD and Master’s students. No job security for existing undergraduate TAs. No movement on wages. No movement on protections against tuition increases.

Starting Monday November 21st at 7:00am, picket lines will go up at entrances around the campus and we are strongly encouraging all TAs to begin withholding their labour. Any duties assigned to you in your role as a TA or RA-in-lieu should cease. The university has sent around information about a form you can complete if you want to keep working, and promising to continue paying you. There are a few important things you need to know, should you choose to do so:

  1. Doing so will undermine the efforts of your coworkers who are striking. It could prolong the strike, and it could leave the union with no choice but to accept less than we all deserve. Whatever deal we end up with will apply to all of us just the same.
  2. If you continue to work during the strike, you will be doing so without a collective agreement and without the union’s protection. Should you experience wage theft, harassment, discrimination, overwork, or any other violation of your rights as a worker, you will be on your own, because we will have no legal standing to advocate for you.

It is critical that every member signs up for picket duties ASAP. Picketing involves disrupting the flow of traffic and goods onto campus by marching in the entrances with signs. Under CUPE National, picket pay is $300/week for 20 hours of picket duties. There are a number of alternate duties available to members who cannot, for reasons of mobility, childcare, or other legitimate grounds, walk the picket line. If you have questions please check out our Strike FAQ or email strikecochairs@cupe3906.orgPlease sign up now at the picket duties sign up form below:

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.

If you have already signed up for picket duties, thank you. Please watch your inbox for instructions on what to do come Monday morning.

United we bargain, divided we beg!