Teaching assistants ratify their priorities for a BetterMac

evan3906Communications, Unit 1 Bargaining

HAMILTON, ON — Teaching assistants at McMaster University voted Thursday to ratify their priorities for the 2019 round of collective bargaining with the university administration.

The key priorities approved by members are:

  1. Increasing funding
  2. Expanding mental and physical health and wellness supports
  3. Increasing paid training
  4. Better representation for indigenous members
  5. Improving working conditions

These priorities emerged primarily out of a survey circulated to members by the bargaining team back in February, which generated a record number of responses.

James Watson, Vice President External and a bargaining team member, introduced the discussion by highlighting the principles that motivate CUPE 3906’s bargaining philosophy, which include a commitment to “democracy,” “no concessions,” “university workers are worth it,” and “solidarity.”

Watson then walked members through the five main priorities proposed by the bargaining team, and described the motivation behind each.

One such priority is an increase in paid training, which may include anti-oppression training, expanded training in teaching methods, and other forms of professional development. Watson described the existing training system for teaching assistants as “a patchwork that varies from department to department.” The bargaining team hopes to move the university to a system where a standardized set of skills can be taught and funded by the employer.

“We are bargaining for the common good,” said Watson. “This isn’t only about TA or RA work in a narrow sense. It’s about what’s best for the entire McMaster community and what’s best for our students.”

With the five main priorities now ratified, members have provided the bargaining team with a clear mandate at the bargaining table.

“Our members are telling us loud and clear: we need more funding, and we need language that protects us from tuition hikes that will further erode our funding,” said CUPE 3906 President Angie Perez. “But if we want to make these priorities a reality and reduce precarious work on our campus, we need to come together and fight for it.”

The bargaining team will now work with CUPE 3906 staff to craft proposals that advance each of the main priorities, and these will then be presented as a package of proposals to the employer’s bargaining team when they meet in June.

Unit 1 is CUPE 3906’s largest unit with over 2,900 members, and includes graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, research assistants (in lieu of a TAship), demonstrators, markers, tutors and super tutors. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.


For more information, contact:

Molle McGuire, CUPE 3906 — Unit 1 Bargaining Team, mcguire.molliec@gmail.com

Angie Perez, CUPE 3906 President, president@cupe3906.org

Bargaining Survey is live

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The link to the Unit 1 (TAs/RAs in lieu) and Unit 3 (Postdocs) bargaining survey was sent via e-mail link today. If you are a member and did not receive the link, please contact staff@cupe3906.org

Today’s survey launch event in MDCL was cancelled due to the weather, but we’ll be continuing the survey launch tour next week in ETB 230 on Tues at 11:30 and in TSH B129 on Thurs at 11:30

Bargaining Survey Launch Tour- Feb 6th, 12th, and 14th

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Dear TAs/RAs in lieu and Postdocs,

As you’ve likely heard already, your Collective Agreement expires on August 31, 2019 and your elected bargaining teams are preparing to negotiate a new and improved agreement over the summer months. Before they can do that, we need to hear from you!!! Our bargaining proposals are based on the priorities you identify. We’ll be releasing our bargaining survey on Wednesday, February 6th and having Bargaining Survey Launch Tour to support it and reach out to members. We’ll be making three stops around campus and we’re hoping you’ll drop in to one of them for some free pizza and to fill in the survey. The dates and locations are:
Wednesday, February 6th- MDCL 3023- drop in anytime between 11:30 and 2:30
Tuesday, February 12th- ETB 230- drop in anytime between 11:30 and 12:30** 
Thursday, February 14th- TSH B129- drop in anytime between 11:30 and 2:30
**A General Membership Meeitng will occur in ETB 230 from 12:30 to 2:30, so we’ll be on hand between 11:30 and 2:30. This meeting will feature the election of a Vice President, Unit 1 Chief Steward, and Recording Secretary**
In addition to the free pizza, anyone who comes to one of these drop-ins will be given a ballot to win a $100 grocery gift-card for Fortino’s/No Frills. There is one prize for each of the three sessions. The rooms are all in accessible locations, and childcare costs are eligible for reimbursement.
The survey gives you the chance to provide input into the things you’d like to see introduced or improved in the new Collective Agreement. Members of the bargaining teams will be on hand to chat about items you’d like to see reflected in the Collective Agreement. If you can’t attend one of these events, the e-link to the survey will also be sent on February 6th, and the survey will remain open until March 6th.
In solidarity,
Your elected Unit 1 and Unit 3 Bargaining Teams

Bargaining Teams Elected

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Congratulations to our recently elected Unit 1 (TAs/RAs) bargaining team: James Watson (Sociology), Mollie McGuire (Sociology), Avijit Mallick (Biology), Nathan Todd (Philosophy), Mehrshad Kafee (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Leah McGrath-Reynolds (Labour Studies), and Chris Fairweather (Labour Studies).

Congratulations also to our recently elected Unit 3 (Postdoctoral Fellows) bargaining team: Zobia Jawed (School of Engineering Practice and Theory), Toby Brown (Physics and Astronomy), Naveed Yasin (Chemical Engineering), and our alternate Abhinav Garg (Chemical Engineering).

Membership surveys for both Unit 1 and Unit 3 members should be out in early December.

Fight for 5 Years and Fairness

Brad WalchukUncategorized

If you were at our amazing social earlier this week (or if you follow us on social media), you would have seen our delicious 5 Years and Fairness cake and the launch of our 5 Years and Fairness bargaining campaign.

As you likely know, both Unit 1 (TAs and RAs in lieu) and Unit 3 (postdocs) are heading into bargaining next spring, and we wanted to kick off our bargaining campaign with a clear message: doctoral students need 5 years of guaranteed funding. Based on information we’ve previously gathered, the average length to complete a doctoral degree at Mac is 5.5 years. The current guarantee provides doctoral students with only 4 years, and quite simply that isn’t sufficient or reflective of how long it takes to complete a degree, as virtually any PhD student can tell you.

As the year goes on, you’ll be hearing much more about this campaign and what else it contains, but the message is simple: doctoral students deserve 5 years of guaranteed funding. It’s only fair!