Help us avoid a strike



CLICK HERE to see our #BadBehaviour!

A #BetterMac is possible is a campaign organized by CUPE 3906.

CUPE 3906 is a union that represents academic workers at McMaster University. We are teaching and research assistants (in lieu), sessional instructors, and postdoctoral fellows.

Our local has over 3,000 members, and we are part of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the largest union in the country with over 630,000 members.

CUPE bargaining photo

Unit 1 (TAs/RAs)

02 December 2016

Dear Unit 1 (TA/RA in lieu) Members,

The Bargaining Team is pleased to announce that after two days of conciliation we have reached a tentative agreement with the Employer. The agreement substantively addresses many the key concerns you brought to us throughout the process, and along with our counterparts from the Employer’s bargaining team, we are recommending that it be ratified.

We will present details of the agreement at a Special General Membership Meeting, where a ratification vote will also begin. This SGMM will take place immediately following the General Membership Meeting called forDecember 7, 2016 in MDCL 1102 at 5:00pm. Following the meeting, ratification voting will take place the following two days, December 8-9, in Mills and Thode libraries with the voting booths opening at 10:00am and closing at5:00pm each day.

Thank you for your ongoing support and participation during this process. This deal would not have been possible to achieve without your engagement.

In solidarity,

Your CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Team



Over the past two weeks, we’ve asked Graduate members to share their “bad behaviour” by writing down the reason they do not expect to finish their PhDs in 4 years.

Our strike support committee delivered them to the Provost’s Office for the upper administration’s consideration. We hope that the Employer will hear the need for 5th year priority TA postings and will address this need in a meaningful way at the bargaining table as we head into conciliation December 1st and 2nd.


04 November 2016

Dear Unit 1 (TA/RA in lieu) Members,

We would like to thank you for coming out to our polling stations over the last few days and for giving us a clear strike vote mandate.

We are heartened by the support that a 72% ‘YES’ result represents. This shows a real commitment to fair wages, job security, better working conditions, and a stop to further outsourcing of Unit 1 work on campus. Having heard the collective voice of our membership, we feel empowered to bargain a fair Collective Agreement for a #BetterMac.

We are going to put your support into action at the bargaining table and we are committed to continuing to engage you, our members, throughout the process.

The next step is conciliation. Keep an eye out for our updates and we look forward to seeing you at our bargaining support initiatives and General Membership Meetings.

In solidarity,

Your CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Bargaining Team


Dear Members,

Our strike vote meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016, at 6:00 P.M. at the Westdale United Church, 99 North Oval Street (click here for directions).

Please come early to sign in.  Only CUPE 3906 Unit 1 members are allowed to attend.

Voting will continue on Wednesday, November 2nd from 10 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. in the lobbies of Mills and Thodes libraries (click here for library locations).

For voting eligibility and information on what you need to vote, please visit our FAQ section.

To see the strike vote notice, please click here.

For the latest update on bargaining, please click here.

***UPDATE-OCT 20***

Joint statement regarding Unit 1 negotiations:

“McMaster University and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3906 Unit 1 (representing TAs and RAs in lieu working at McMaster) are currently in negotiations for a new Collective Agreement.

“The support of a Provincial Conciliation Officer from the Ministry of Labour has been requested to help facilitate a resolution; this is not an unusual process for any round of bargaining.

“The Parties will continue to meet in the interim on October 31st and November 2nd to work toward a new Collective Agreement at the Bargaining Table.”

Sarah Wahab, President, CUPE 3906

Geoff Tierney, Chief Negotiator, McMaster University


Please click here for the October 13th Unit 1 Bargaining Bulletin.

****UPDATE- SEPT 26****

The Silhouette (campus newspaper at McMasterU) sat down with President Sarah Wahab and Vice President Graham Baker to explore the #BetterMac campaign. It means job security, mental health support, and so much more. The full story is here.

An important excerpt:

Sarah Wahab, president of CUPE 3906, clarified the conflation between mental illness and financial pressure. “It’s precarious work… Poverty can definitely amplify mental illness. So we think it is very important they have access to [mental health care]… So that’s something that was specifically mentioned in the survey: mental health care. #bettermac is trying to make a space that we already care deeply about, better. We love McMaster– we want to make it a better space for everyone to work.”


****UPDATE- SEPT 16****

Dear Unit 1 Members,

RE: Important Bargaining Update

We have met with the Employer on several occasions in the past week to continue to re-negotiate the Unit 1 collective agreement, the contract that governs our collective working conditions as TAs and RAs in lieu at McMaster.

The Employer has tabled a settlement offer that still contains what we view as major concessions and conflicts with the many concerns you expressed in our bargaining priorities document and bargaining survey.

We are requesting additional dates from the Employer to meet at the bargaining table in the next few weeks to continue to work towards the priorities you set out and to attain a #BetterMac.  We will provide more updates as they arise.

In solidarity,

Your Elected Unit 1 Bargaining Team


Unit 1 consists of all Teaching Assistants employed at McMaster (undergraduate TAs, graduate TAs, and non-student TAs), as well as Research Assistants in lieu (that is, those RAs whose work is part of their guaranteed funding package as a graduate student). We want to make a #BetterMac for TAs and students alike.

Based on a membership survey sent out in February and a bargaining proposals ratification meeting in May,Unit 1 members (TAs and TAs in lieu) determined that the following were major priorities:

  • Funding (wages, 5th year guarantee, tuition increase protection)
  • Increased Benefits
  • Mental Health Support for TAs and RAs in lieu


We have met with the Employer (McMaster University) on July 25 and 27 in an effort to make a #BetterMac for TAs and RAs.   We have additional dates scheduled for late August and throughout September.

We are not convinced that the Employer is not committed to making a #BetterMac. In fact, they are proposing to fundamentally alter the concept of the graduate student employment guarantee!

The Employer is proposing a package built upon ‘administrative ease’ by making precarious work even more precarious through weakening the graduate employment guarantee and proposing changes to the dental plan that are sure to result in increased costs to members.

Attached is our first  bargaining bulletin, produced on July 27th, and our second bargaining bulletin, both of which summarize both the Union’s and the Employer’s most recent proposals, as well as the existing status quo language from the current collective agreement.


Unit 3 (Postdocs)

Most individuals employed as Postdoctoral Fellows at McMaster are members of CUPE Local 3906, Unit 3. Unionized post-docs are those “whose salary is paid, in whole or in part, via McMaster payroll.” This means that those post-docs whose ‘salary’ is paid directly through a granting agency, and not through payroll, tend not to be unionized post-docs, unless their appointment includes teaching courses at McMaster.

Post-doctoral fellows play a vital part in McMaster’s research program, and deserve a #BetterMac that reflects the important intellectual contributions that they make.

Based on a membership survey sent out in February and a bargaining proposals ratification meeting in April, Unit 3 members (post-doctoral fellows) determined that the following were major priorities:

  • Wages
  • Benefits
  • Academic Issues (i.e. Academic Freedom, a Professional Development Fund, Individual Development Plan)


Your Union has met with the Employer (McMaster University) on June 21, 22, 23 and July 29. We feel that progress has been made, and are looking forward to securing additional bargaining dates with the Employer to ensure that a #BetterMac is made for post-doctoral fellows.

Please check out our two bargaining bulletins, which provide important updates about bargaining, including summarizing the both the Union’s and the Employer’s most recent proposals, as well as the existing status quo language from the current collective agreement.  The first bargaining bulletin is from June, and the second bargaining bulletin is from July.