After two weeks of negotiations with our Employer, the McMaster University Administration, we are disappointed to inform you that the parties have reached an impasse and we are seeking both the assistance of a government-appointed Conciliation Officer and a strike vote from our Unit 2 members.
The Union and the Employer made some progress at the table over the past few sessions. For instance, we removed conditions that would limit members to teach two courses per term, and made some gains to supplemental fees for large classes.
Unfortunately, that progress was cut short by a few fundamental disagreements:
-improvements to job security and transparency in hiring. Job security was a top priority for members according to our survey. We continue to propose improvements to the existing first consideration appointment system and to transparent and fair hiring processes, but the Employer is not agreeable to any substantive changes.
-compensation and money. The Employer states that it is limited to a 1% increase to wages and benefits due to the regressive legislation put forward by the Ford Conservatives last fall (Bill 124). Paid training is not contemplated by the legislation, however, and we believe that members should receive extra compensation for health and safety training and/or professional training in addition to normal course preparation and delivery. This is an opportunity for the Employer to offer gains outside of the restrictions of the legislation, and we think our members are worth it.
–proration of 3-unit courses. The Employer has included a proposal that would allow members in one of our departments (MELD) to be paid 1/3rd of the value of a 3-unit course by claiming to have altered the workload of the course to 1/3rd of the workload of a “regular” 3-unit course. This is an attack on our members, and we are concerned that, if we agree to this language, the Employer would be permitted to reduce compensation in any of our 3- or 6-unit courses. The Employer also wants the Union to withdraw outstanding grievances on proration and job security as a condition of the agreement.
–technological support. Especially given the move to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members require additional technological support for the tools and resources they need. The Employer is having difficulty finding ways of facilitating this (although the Union has proposed several options).
–duration (3-year contract). Given the uncertainties created by the pandemic and current legislation (Bill 124), we had hoped the employer would agree to a two-year agreement. This would have allowed both sides to go back to the negotiating table at a time when things hopefully have stabilized and some uncertainties resolved. However, the Employer is insisting on a three-year deal.
–Preventing job loss. The Union requested that the Employer commit to not reducing the number of jobs as a result of any move to online teaching because of the pandemic (e.g., increase the student to instructor ratio to create online, “mega” classes). The Employer did not agree to commit to this, and has already done this in at least one department.
–Guidelines on reasonable hours of work. The Union proposed language to make sure that members were not required to provide instruction or student consultation between the hours of 10 P.M. and 8:30 A.M.. The Employer did not agree to this language.
–Paid Training. Unpaid pre-contract preparation work for your average sessional instructor may include: Preparing and revising syllabi, unpaid professional research, mandatory health and safety training, possibly technology training, designing and activating your Avenue-To-Learn course page or setting up other syllabus tools. Because wages are capped at a 1% increase due to Bill 124, CUPE3906’s bargaining team has made PAID TRAINING a priority in this round of bargaining. The Employer continues to say “no”!!!