The CUPE 3906 strike site


Up-to-the-minute information about the CUPE 3906 Unit 1 TA strike at McMaster University

To our fabulous picketers

To our fabulous picketers;

We are writing to express our sincere thanks to all of you who have been out on the lines in the past week.  We cannot tell you how proud we are of all of you, or how much of an impact you’ve had on our McMaster community.

As you’ve heard, the vote tonight was 58% in favour of ratifying this contract.  Do not, in any way, regard this as a defeat!  The changes we’ve wrought over recent days can’t be underestimated.  The solidarity we’ve built, the community we’ve changed, the apathy we’ve broken through, and the issues we’ve raised have forever changed McMaster.  Never would we have thought that this was possible three years ago – or even one year ago!

Your support of each other in our struggle to fight for quality education, for access to jobs, and to defend our wages and benefits against erosion has been exhilarating.  More than that, your support of each other is inspiring.

We truly believe that there is far more positive to take away from this experience than there is negative.  For one, we KNOW the University administration noticed us!  The Union is truly stronger than ever, and we cannot be dismissed.  We have a voice that is speaking for not only our own members, but for all of the members of the McMaster community in a way that has been truly absent.  This voice is not absent any longer, and we’re looking forward to being louder and stronger than ever in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

The years of this contract are going to be years of significant change at Mac.  We’ve got a new President arriving, SEIU and CAW (who you may have seen on our lines!) will be negotiating collective agreements, as will our own Sessional Faculty.  The post-secondary sector is facing challenges in access and funding.  CUPE 3906 has in the last months and weeks established itself as a leader – thanks to you! – and we can continue to build on that strength.

Thank you, we love you, and we’ll see you at a party in the VERY near future!

With gratitude and pride,

Your Bargaining Team

Diana Zawadzki

Rebecca Strung

Derek Sahota

Marc Ouellette

Nicholas Longaphy

Heather Johnson

Nancy MacBain

Jesse Payne


Filed under: 1, Daily updates, Features, Support and solidarity, Urgent updates


Dear Members

The results of the November 8th and 9th ratification vote are as follows.  This vote was conducted under the protocols laid out in the local?s bylaws, monitored by an external supervisor and counted by two elected scrutineers.  It represents the democratic will of the membership of this local.  This vote has been the latest step in an ongoing democratic process.

The members have voted 58% in favour of accepting the Employer?s offer.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, local 3906 has accepted McMaster?s University?s latest offer.


The membership of this local has opted to accept the employer?s contract and, as a result, cease strike activity effective immediately. We will be meeting the Employer at 10 A.M. tomorrow to negotiate a back-to-work protocol that will set forth the conditions by which members will resume their regular duties as teaching and research assistants.  Please contact our strike office at  905-528-2873 if you have  questions about returning to work.  Details of this agreement will be made available as soon as possible.  Please continue to check the blogs and your email for information.

In solidarity,
Mary Ellen Campbell
President, CUPE 3906

Filed under: 1, Urgent updates

BREAKING NEWS: Sessionals with CUPE at U of T reach tentative agreement with benefits, wages and more

On Saturday night the CUPE-organized sessional faculty at University of Toronto, reached a tentative agreement with their employer: a three year deal which included increases to benefits and wage increases of 3.0%, 3.0% and 3.3% over the life of the contract.

While the agreement still needs to be ratified by the local membership, the union bargaining team is recommending the deal.

This is in stark contrast to the situation at McMaster where teaching assistants and research assistants have been on strike since November 1st and where, for a 2-year contract, the employer has offered a mere 2.6% and 1.6% in total compensation (i.e. all costs associated with the contract.  Unlike their counterparts at U of T, the McMaster administration has opted to force a strike rather than bargain fairly.  A ratification vote at McMaster began on Sunday night and continues 10am-5pm at the union’s strike office, but the union bargaining team is encouraging members to reject the contract which meets none of the membership’s bargaining priorities and represents cuts to benefits and a net loss of take-home pay.

Filed under: Information, Urgent updates


Filed under: Events, Information, Urgent updates

Chris Charlton, former Mac TA and 3906er, now federal MP and NDP Labour Critic, sends support

CUPE3906 Support from Chris Charlton

Filed under: Support and solidarity

Vote “no” on Sunday

Dear fellow Unit 1 members,

This Sunday evening at 4pm we will convene to discuss and vote on the employer’s current offer. We have called this vote in order to send a strong message to McMaster that they must address the key issues in bargaining, issues that we, as a union, have voted time and again to insist are pivotal. Until we vote down this offer, we will see no movement on class-sizes and overwork, work for upper-year students, maintenance of our benefits, and protection from tuition increases.

We began this bargaining process by tabling a modest but comprehensive set of proposals that included no new increase in graduate TA wages. We took into consideration the general economic situation. You gave us your trust and ideas. Time and again we revised and reformed our proposals. You have been with us through the entire bargaining process. We had hoped that our local’s rejection of a ratification vote on November 1st would be enough to convince the McMaster administration they need to take our proposals seriously. We had hoped that three days of strong picket lines would be enough. Now it is clear only a decisive and formal rejection of this insulting offer will succeed in winning the contract we deserve.

There are our main issues:

1. We are seeking protection from overwork due to ballooning tutorial
and lab sizes. Large tutorial and labs undermine the quality of
education and our personal relationship with our students.
2. We are seeking job security for upper-year graduate students so
that they have access to TA or RA work as they finish their degrees.
3. We are seeking to protect benefits. Without an increase in funding
that is proportional to member usage, benefits will be cut.
4. We need some protection of our take-home income from yearly
tuition increases.

For more information on all of these issues, please check here.

If we fail to reject this offer, we will not simply be settling for the “status quo.” The university’s offer means substantial cuts in take-home pay and total compensation for almost all members of Unit 1. We cannot be intimidated by the administration’s threats to that sabotage the hard-fought agreement reached on many items if we reject this contract. This is a typical, if mean-spirited, bargaining tactic. When we reject their contract and send a clear message we cannot be bullied, we have every reason to expect that they will willing to move enough our our key issues to settle this deal and get everyone back to work.

We have kept this message short in order to be clear and concise. Please check our blog regularly for updates.

Please contact the strike office with any questions: 905-528-CUPE

Voting will commence following our meeting at the Hamilton Convention Centre on Sunday night. All members are should inform themselves and participate in the debate.

We look forward to an informed and spirited discussion on Sunday night. See you all there!

Filed under: Urgent updates

Canadian professors support Mac TAs! – a letter of support from CAUT

Please click here to read a letter of support to CUPE 3906 from the Canadian Association of University Teachers who representover 65,000 faculty and academic staff from coast to coast.

CAUT letter to CUPE 3906 (2009 11 03)



Filed under: Support and solidarity

Ratification vote info session #1 – Thursday, 2pm

The bargaining team will be making a presentation on bargaining and the ratification vote at 2pm on Thursday, November 5th.  This session is directed towards members who have questions and concerns about the contract we will be voting on Sunday and Monday.  The bargaining team is advising members to vote AGAINST this contract and send a strong message the McMaster administration cannot bully us.  ALL MEMBERS ARE WELCOME to these meetings,  including and especially those who are currently not striking or working.

The location will be confirmed Thursday morning but will be close to campus.

There will two more information meetings on Friday.


Filed under: Events, Information

Rally in support of the CUPE 3906 strike – 4:30 Thursday

Rally in support of Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants on strike at McMaster University

Thursday, November 5, 4:30pm at the Sterling Street gates of McMaster University

Please come and bring your friends!

Filed under: Rallies, Support and solidarity

A day in the life of a tireless strike organizer

It occurred to me that many people, especially younger workers, have never experienced a strike and may not know what is involved. This is my first time on strike and I know I’m learning a lot. So I thought I’d give you a brief run down of what a typical day looks like for me.

So, as the picket captain coordinator my job is to make sure our picket lines are effective (cause disruption to the normal course of business at Mac), are safe and well organized. The first two days of the strike looked like this:

7am – At the strike office, loading truck with picket supplies. Double check to make sure picket captains (the people bottom-lining the individual pickets) have all the needed forms, contact info, etc.

7:30 – Drop supplies off at each picket (we have three in total) then help set up the pickets. Construction cones go up on the roads blocking traffic for up to 5 minutes (we have set up a car holding area, meaning we block in up to 5 cars at a time, while traffic builds behind them. You let the five cars in the holding area go out one end, and in comes another 5).

The rest of the day is spent running from picket to picket making sure things are running ok. I’m constantly on the cell phone, trying to get used to it (I’ve never used one before!).

I often check in with my picket captains: does everyone know what they are doing? anyone need on the spot training? any thing come during the day that needs to be dealt with?

Supplying the picket lines is a constant effort: which lines need water, food? Any picketers need winter hats, gloves? Do we need more signs? More flyers to hand to drivers?

Keeping the members’ morale up is also important. Music is blasting at all the lines. I try and get to know as many people as possible. Updates from the other lines and from the bargaining table are relayed as often as they come in. Yesterday the old union tunes made their first presence. By the time this is all over, we will know them backwards.

Problems arise throughout the day. Aggressive drivers bump into our pylons. Are the police on it or do I have to call someone? Even revving your engine can get you a criminal charge (a car is after all a deadly weapon). My biggest fear is one of us getting hit by the car. It happens almost every strike. But we are well prepared and so far we’ve kept safe thanks to the picket captains, our holding pen system, and the vigilance of the workers.

Supporters honk their horns. The city bus drivers won’t cross our lines and come on to campus. Ditto for other unionized workers such as maintenance workers and delivery drivers. Our biggest supporters are the CAW and SEIU workers on campus. Though they are legally obliged to cross our lines (another reason we need to rid ourselves of the State), they let us know they support our fight. Often they can be heard saying “we know how it is, this is Mac, enough said.” Other unions and community activists including my fellow Common Cause members come out to lend a hand. These selfless individuals come out for hours doing grunt work in our support.

Mutual aid and solidarity in action. Solidarity is being built. A community is forming before our eyes. Passive workers become active workers. I know some of them will be empowered and changed forever. This makes it all worth the effort.

But still, there is so much to do and I’m getting exhausted. This line is out of flyers. Call the supply people. This fellow worker has a question about strike pay. Call the strike office. Some is playing a guitar at one of the lines and people are singing. Are the communications people recording this and getting it up on the blog? I get a call telling me a car tried to drive through our lines. Did the picket captain get the plate number? Is the incident recorded?

7:30pm. Grab the truck. Picket lines come down. Start loading up the truck. Rush back to the office.

8pm. Debrief. What went right? What went wrong? What needs doing tonight? What’s been happening at the bargaining table? Strategy, logistics, member outreach and more is discussed and it feels like the meeting will never end. People are starting to crash with exhaustion.

10:30pm. The meeting finally ends. Send off a few emails to the picket captains. Make sure cell phones are ready for the next day. I want to hug our community volunteers: they’ve re-organized all the supplies so they are ready for tomorrow.

11:30pm. In bed. The family is asleep. I haven’t seen my wife or son in two days. Plus my wife has been taking on extra child care and house work so I can be out there as much as possible. She is fully behind the strike and I’m reminded that no strike has ever been won with the massive and all too often invisible work done in the home by workers’ significant others and families.

6:00am. Get up to do it all over again. Tired sure. And it is only day 3 of the strike. How many more days like this? As many as it takes to win this struggle.

Filed under: Features, Profiles

RSS Weather – dress appropiately!

Latest news from our Twitter feed

  • Members vote to ratify the latest contract: 58% to 42%. The strike is over. Back-to-work protocol to be negotiated tomorrow. 8 years ago
  • Results of the rat. vote will be announced at 8pm on the blogs & email, provided all votes have been counted by the scrutineers by that time 8 years ago
  • BREAKING NEWS: UofT sessionals under CUPE achieve a tentative agreement for a 3y contract w. benefits and wage increases of 3%, 3% and 3.3% 8 years ago
  • Monday is the last day to vote in the ratification from 10am-5pm at the Strike Office. Picket lines continue. Get informed. 8 years ago
  • New information on Sunday/Monday's ratification vote available at 8 years ago
  • Excellent, informative 15 minute radio interview with some members of the union bargaining team: 8 years ago
  • Bargaining team urges members to vote "no" at the ratification vote beginning Sunday evening following a general meeting downtown 8 years ago
  • Nov. 5 solidarity rally a huge success. Clips can be viewed on our new YouTube channel: 8 years ago

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