FAQs

Help us avoid a strike

About

About

A #BetterMac is possible is a campaign organized by CUPE 3906 in support of Unit 2, our Sessional Faculty and Hourly-Rated Sessional Music Faculty, who are currently engaged in collective bargaining with McMaster. Sessionals are university professors without tenure, meaning that they routinely need to apply for their jobs, often on a semester-to-semester basis. This is the case despite that fact that many Sessionals have been providing decades of excellent teaching to students at McMaster. Sessionals also earn significantly less money for teaching than they tenured colleagues.

The biggest issue in this round of bargaining, by far, is job security. Your union is looking to strengthen employment stability and security by improving First Consideration rights in the collective agreement. The employer is not proposing any meaningful improvements to job security language. This is unacceptable!

In addition to strengthened job security language, our roughly 500 member sessional unit is looking for fair pay to reflect our excellent teaching, and improvements to benefits. Our members provide excellent teaching to McMaster students and have made a commitment to the university – a commitment of decades in many cases – and are seeking a commitment from McMaster that reflects this. A copy of our most recent bargaining bulletin, which provides a useful comparison between the union’s proposals and the employer’s, can be found here.

CUPE 3906 is a union that represents academic workers at McMaster University. We are teaching and research assistants (in lieu), sessional faculty and hourly-rated sessional music faculty, 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 640,000 members.

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Bargaining Updates

September 20, 2017

Meet Dr. David Gerry, a Sessional in School of the Arts.

He’s taught at McMaster University for about 30 years, has acquired a few advanced degrees in that time (including a PhD), been recognized by the Grammys (yes, you read that correctly), won a McMaster Students Union (MSU) teaching award, but has “no more job security now than when I began.” It’s time for a #BetterMac

Have a look at this video to hear from David what a #BetterMac means to him and why creating one is important.


September 10, 2017

By now, you’ve likely seen our #BetterMac posters across campus, and perhaps even our #BetterMac video, featuring Jessica Foran, a Sessional in Social Sciences.  In it, she highlights the importance of issues such as improved job security, a manageable workload, meaningful benefits, and fair pay. We’ll be back at the bargaining table with the Employer in early October, but until then, you’ll see us around campus talking about why Sessionals need – and deserve – a #BetterMac.  Come and say hi, and if you’re interested in your own testimonial video, please let us know. If you’ve got any bargaining related questions, please send them to Amarjeet: akc@cupe3906.org 


August 28, 2017

Your union has secured a number of improvements already, including paid domestic violence leave and better
pregnancy and parental leave, but much remains. This includes addressing our key priorities, most notably
strengthened job security provisions (referred to as First Consideration Appointments). Particularly worrying, then, is that the Employer’s Settlement Offer contains no substantial improvements to First Consideration language. This proposal envisions a precarious workforce that routinely has to re-apply for work, despite years of teaching excellence. They also prefer compensation for Sessionals that is significantly lower than other universities in
Southern Ontario, such as the University of Guelph and Wilfred Laurier University despite McMaster’s status as a world-class institution for teaching excellence. A full of our August bargaining bulletin can be found here.


August 23, 2017

We’re back at the bargaining table this week, and making progress on smaller issues. Major issues such as job security, wages, and benefits are items that still need to be addressed. We hope to have a second bargaining bulletin early next week.


It’ll be a busy two weeks for your Unit 2 (Sessionals) bargaining team, who will be meeting with the Employer in 8 of the next 9 business days to secure a #BetterMac.  As a result, however, the office will be operating at a reduced capacity. Our wonderful administrator Amarjeet is in the office, but she’ll be in-and-out with mobilizing duties. In short, if you need to talk to us, please let us know in advance so we can ensure someone is in the office. We have a locked drop box outside the office if you need to leave any forms.


Here is a detailed update after the first two meetings with the University’s negotiating team last week. As you will see, the two sides have found some agreement on a number of smaller, procedural (or “housekeeping”) issues but remain far apart with respect to the priorities that our members have identified.

We are in a recess right now and will be back at the table by mid-August.

In the meantime, we’d like to hear from you! Please take a moment to check you e-mail and fill out our first of several Quick Bargaining Surveys. These surveys will be just a few questions long and will help to clarify where our members stand on various employment issues.

To encourage good participation in this endeavor, we’re offering a bit of an incentive: $20-, $30- and $50-valued prizes for 3 lucky respondents!

In solidarity for a #BetterMac
Graham Baker, President, CUPE 3906
on behalf of the Unit 2 Bargaining Team


This is it! Bargaining began this week! Your duly-elected Bargaining Team has been working hard over the last several weeks to put together a package of proposals that reflects your priorities as a membership. On Wednesday and Thursday of this past week, we had our first chance to present those proposals in person to the university’s negotiators.

You’re going to continue to hear from us – in person, via email, and through our direct mailers – as this process unfolds. If we’re going to win the Collective Agreement that Sessional Faculty at this university deserve, we all need to be pulling together, and that begins with making sure that all our members have up-to-date, accurate information about what’s going on at the bargaining table.

We also need to keep hearing from you. To that end, we will be inviting you all to participate in a few Quick Bargaining Surveys. These surveys will be just a few questions long and will help to clarify where our members stand on various employment issues.


We would first like to thank the Sessional Faculty who attended the Unit 2 Bargaining Support Luncheon yesterday – it was a chance to discuss the role of Bargaining Support as presented by the President, Graham Baker, and to meet the Bargaining Team, including the two Staff Reps, who graciously took time away from their busy bargaining schedule and joined us for lunch.

We now have a Bargaining Support Team (and are still looking for others to join as things progress), and we would like to congratulate Frances Lasowski for being acclaimed the Bargaining Support Chair – Thank you Fran and congratulations!

Once again, a big THANK YOU! to the new members of the Bargaining Support Team for their commitment to this round of negotiations with the employer.

If you’re interested in joining the bargaining support team (with a time commitment that is flexible to your schedule and responsibilities that you’re comfortable with), don’t hesitate to contact our Unit 2 Bargaining Mobilizer, Amarjeet.


Dear Unit 2 (Sessional Faculty and Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty),

FREE BARGAINING SUPPORT LUNCHEON–JULY 11th

We would like to extend an invitation to you for a Special (Free) Union Luncheon on Tuesday, July 11th at Noon at the Phoenix so as to set up the Bargaining Support Committee for this round of Unit 2 negotiations. At this luncheon meeting, two co-chairs of the Bargaining Support Committee will be elected as per our By-Laws.

We are addressing this to all our Unit 2 members, including those members who were at the Special General Membership Meeting (SGMM) and those of you with whom we have met in person over the past weeks who have indicated an interest in chatting about the possibility of being a member of the Bargaining Support Committee. The Bargaining Support Committee is an integral and fundamental part of the Union’s Bargaining Process and, among other things, provides support as needed to the Bargaining Team.

 So please join us (even if you’re not sure if you want to commit to joining the committee) and please do RSVP to Amarjeet Chhabra, our member mobilizer at akc@cupe3906.org by the end of the week so we can reserve enough room. Looking forward to meeting you!


Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is a process by which your union (CUPE 3906) and the Employer (McMaster University) negotiate a collective agreement. A collective agreement is a written contract of employment covering a group of employees who are represented by a trade union, in this case Sessional Faculty, MELD Faculty, and Hourly-Rated Music Sessional Faculty. This agreement contains provisions governing the terms and conditions of employment, such as wages, job security, benefits, course evaluations, etc.

The current Collective Agreement expires this August 2017 (but will continue to be in force until a new Agreement is negotiated and ratified by the members). We are now in negotiations with the employer, McMaster University.

Your elected bargaining team, consisting of four sessionals and union support staff, have secured the following dates to meet with the Employer: July 19, July 20th, and eight days over the middle two weeks in August.

Relevant bargaining information and updates will be posted here, as well as sent via e-mail to sessionals.

In the meantime, as promised in our email, and in the package we mailed to your home (hopefully you have all received it by now – if you haven’t please let us know!), we’re trying to set up a 10-15 minute meeting with as many of you as possible during this round of negotiations.

While the Bargaining Survey is an important tool for soliciting your feedback on workplace issues, it is also imperative that you, our member, get a chance to informally discuss those aspects of your working life here at the university that you feel may need to be improved upon as well as any positive experiences from your time at Mac that you believe can be used to inform best practices in other Departments.

There are a number of ways we could facilitate this conversation (and you’ll have seen these options already if you’ve gotten our mailout):

  1. Individual meeting on campus; (if you tell us when you’re on campus to teach or for office hours, I can meet you at a time and place convenient to you – we’ll even spring for the coffee!)
  2. Small group meeting on campus; (if you tell us when you’re here to teach or for office hours, we can try to fix a time common to more than one of you (but no more that 5 at a time), and meet you at a time and place convenient to the small group – again, we’ll provide the coffee!)
  3. Skype/Phone call; (this could be at your convenience if you feel comfortable with this method of communication)
  4.     Skype/Phone Conference call; (same principle as 2 above, but now at your convenience, if you feel comfortable with that)

We would appreciate it if you could respond by contacting Amarjeet Chhabra, our bargaining mobilizer, at akc@cupe3906.org.

Really looking forward to hearing from you!