FAQs

Help us avoid a strike

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About

We would like to thank you for coming out to our strike mandate vote meeting on Tuesday evening and for dropping by one of polling stations over the last few days to provide your union’s elected bargaining team with a clear strike vote mandate. Thanks as well to the volunteers who staffed polling stations and acted as scrutineers.

We feel both heartened and empowered by the support that a 78% ‘YES’ result represents. The support that the Union’s membership has shown to it’s elected bargaining team demonstrates a high level of engagement and a real commitment of your desire to secure strengthened job security, an improved workload, improved benefits, and fair wages that are in line with what Sessionals at other top universities in Ontario earn. Having heard the collective voice of our membership, we are even more confident in our ability to bargain a fair Collective Agreement for a #BetterMac.

Be reminded as well that a successful strike vote mandate does not mean that we are on strike, nor does it mean that a strike is imminent! Rather, you have empowered the bargaining team to call a strike should no further progress be made at the table. There are, in addition, a number of steps in the legal process around strikes/lockouts in the province of Ontario that would need to be followed before such a decision could be contemplated.

The next step is conciliation, a process that we have already initiated through the Ontario Ministry of Labour. As always, we will continue to keep you updated on the progress of negotiations.

In solidarity,

Graham Baker, President

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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

November 8, 2017

Your elected Bargaining Team has secured two dates with a provincial conciliation officer (November 21st and 22nd) as we continue to bargain for a new Collective Agreement for Sessional Faculty. We are confident that, with the province’s help, we can reach a deal with the Employer’s negotiators that will represent a #BetterMac for our members and for the community as a whole. Our position heading into these talks is even stronger thanks to the strike mandate we received from you some weeks ago. As always, we will keep you posted as events unfold. In the meantime, you may be hearing from our mobilizer Amarjeet with an invitation to participate in various actions around campus.


October 27, 2017

We would like to thank you for coming out to our strike mandate vote meeting on Tuesday evening and for dropping by one of polling stations over the last few days to provide your union’s elected bargaining team with a clear strike vote mandate. Thanks as well to the volunteers who staffed polling stations and acted as scrutineers.

We feel both heartened and empowered by the support that a 78% ‘YES’ result represents. The support that the Union’s membership has shown to it’s elected bargaining team demonstrates a high level of engagement and a real commitment of your desire to secure strengthened job security, an improved workload, improved benefits, and fair wages that are in line with what Sessionals at other top universities in Ontario earn. Having heard the collective voice of our membership, we are even more confident in our ability to bargain a fair Collective Agreement for a #BetterMac.

Be reminded as well that a successful strike vote mandate does not mean that we are on strike, nor does it mean that a strike is imminent! Rather, you have empowered the bargaining team to call a strike should no further progress be made at the table. There are, in addition, a number of steps in the legal process around strikes/lockouts in the province of Ontario that would need to be followed before such a decision could be contemplated.

The next step is conciliation, a process that we have already initiated through the Ontario Ministry of Labour. As always, we will continue to keep you updated on the progress of negotiations.

In solidarity,

Graham Baker, President


October 21, 2017

As you know, Unit 2 (Sessionals) are holding a strike vote from October 24 to 27. Here is our 3rd bargaining bulletin, which provides members with important updates of the (lack of) progress made at the bargaining table this fall. It shows the current language, your union’s latest proposal, and the Employer’s latest proposal. The Employer’s latest proposal fails to address any of our priorities is a meaningful way, and that’s why your elected bargaining team is encouraging a “yes” vote in the upcoming strike mandate.

For some important FAQs on this vote, please click here.


October 18, 2017

Your elected bargaining team met yesterday to discuss the Employer’s most recent proposals and to evaluate where we are in the negotiation process. Given the lack of movement we have seen on the issues that you have identified as priorities – including fair wags, job security, workload, and benefits – the team has decided (1) to file for conciliation with the Ministry of Labour and (2) to call for a strike mandate vote.

Let me briefly explain both of these decisions in turn. As to the first, filing for conciliation refers to the process whereby one of the parties in a negotiation (the Union, in this case) requests that the Ministry of Labour for the province of Ontario assign a conciliation officer – a mediator, essentially – to meet with the parties and help them to reach an agreement. The conciliator is not an arbitrator, and their decisions and recommendations are not binding. They are there to help the conversation along. Your union has found this to be a very helpful and productive process in the past and we are confident that it will assist in these negotiations as well.

As to the second, while we remain resolute in our belief that we can continue to hold to your priorities and get a fair deal for sessional faculty, we are at the point where we really need your help to do it. There is a time in the bargaining process where words at the table will not suffice. The Employer (and the conciliation officer) needs to see that the members are truly behind their bargaining team.

        This is why we are taking a Strike Mandate Vote, beginning on Tuesday, October 24th after an information meeting beginning at 5 p.m..

A strong strike vote will empower the bargaining team with a clear mandate and will help to get these negotiations moving again. It is important to note, though, that a successful strike mandate vote does not mean that we are automatically going on strike. Rather, it gives the Bargaining Team the ability to call a strike later on in the process as a matter of last resort. While this is the last vote that will be taken before the end of these negotiations, we will – as always – continue to consult with membership to help us decide what next steps to take.

The vote will be discussed at a Special General Membership Meeting on the evening of Tuesday, October 24th in the Arthur N. Bourns Building (ABB), Room 165. You will have a chance to hear from the Bargaining Team and ask any questions, or voice any concerns, that you might have about the bargaining process, conciliation, or the strike mandate vote.

         The voting will open immediately following the 5 p.m. meeting on the 24th.

         Voting will then continue until Friday, October 27th from 8:00AM to 7:00PM according to the following schedule:

Wednesday, October 25th: The Lobbies of Mills and Thode Library + the Main Floor of the Degroote School of Business

Thursday, October 26th: The Lobbies of Mills and Thode Library + the Main Floor of the Degroote School of Business

Friday, October 27th: The main floor of the Engineering Technology Building (ETB)

All sessional faculty and hourly-rated sessional music faculty working this semester are eligible to vote. Sessional faculty who have worked within the last two terms are also eligible, as are those sessional faculty with a contract for an upcoming term. These members will have their ballots sequestered. In any case, all you need to bring to the vote is photo ID (though it is helpful if you bring a copy of your Letter of Appointment for this term or an upcoming term, or proof of employment for a past term, in case we do not have you on our current membership list).

The participation of our membership has been and continues to be crucial to the bargaining process. Do not hesitate to contact the staff if you have any questions or concerns leading up to the SGMM or the vote. Our Member Mobilizer, Amarjeet, can be reached at aka@cupe3906.org or by phone at 416 856 9587Please also visit the campaign website for more information on our proposals and for a Strike Vote FAQ.

In solidarity for a #BetterMac,

Graham Baker, President

on behalf of the CUPE 3906 Unit 2 Bargaining Team


October 16, 2017

An update on the job action by college faculty in Ontario represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU):

First, these workers are officially on strike as of 12:01 this morning. Picket lines have gone up on campuses all over the province, including a (for now) information-only picket on the McMaster campus for Mohawk faculty who also teach here.

The picket line is near the Main St. entrance to the main campus. We would encourage you to stop by at some point this week to greet your colleagues and lend your support. You may also consider sending an online letter of support. Remember: their fight is also our fight!

To that end, your elected bargaining team has also been busy this past week as we continue to try to reach an agreement with the employer. Many outstanding issues have now been settled, including updates to pregnancy and parental and other forms of leaves, and clarifications around the way grievances are handled for this unit. Unfortunately, after multiple meetings with the employer’s negotiators over the last two weeks, we have seen no movement on the issues that you have identified as priorities. McMaster’s bargaining team has not signalled any willingness to make any serious improvements to wages or benefits and they have flatly refused to entertain the possibility of even modest improvements to job security (i.e. to extend first consideration appointments any further beyond their current length).

We will stay at the table, but negotiations are approaching an impasse. Your bargaining team will meet tomorrow morning to evaluate the employer’s most recent proposals and decide on next steps. As always, we will continue to keep you updated. In the meantime, please sign the pledge stating your support of the team!

In solidarity for a #BetterMac,
Graham Baker, President, CUPE 3906


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!