Source: McMaster University
Open letter to McMaster's Teaching Assistants
October 27, 2006
The University has written an open letter outlining the Settlement Proposal it has made in its negotiations with CUPE Local 3906 representing Teaching Assistants at McMaster.
The union has agreed to submit this proposal to a vote at a General Membership meeting to be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 26 at the Sports Hall, David Braley Athletic Centre.
Open Letter to McMaster's Teaching Assistants
The University values the work of Teaching Assistants and recognizes that you make an important contribution to learning at McMaster. You deserve fair working conditions and competitive pay. To provide these, the University has been negotiating with your bargaining agent, CUPE Local 3906, to renew your collective agreement.
Over the last two months, we have addressed seriously all of the issues raised by the union. We have restricted our communication to the bargaining table, believing that it is there that a resolution best can be achieved. With this letter I would like you to know the highlights of the University's settlement proposal. Full details can be found here.
CUPE is bringing these terms to you for a vote on Thursday, October 26th. We encourage you to attend and have your say.
Competitive Wages and Benefits
# The current Graduate TA rate of $35.15 is over $4.00 an hour more than the provincial average. Our proposal will maintain this advantage, increasing wages to
$36.00 effective September 1, 2006,
$37.00 effective September 1, 2007 and
$38.00 effective September 1, 2008.
# The current Undergraduate TA rate of $18.55 will increase by at least 3.75% in each year of the agreement - to $19.25 this year, $20.00 the next and $20.75 in 2008.
# An increase of $30,000 in the last agreement brought the University's Benefit funding to $100,000. The University proposal increases this by $10,000 each year, providing $130,000 by 2008, to be distributed based on the union's priorities.
# Employer dental contributions will rise by $0.50 to $22.00 a month in 2006, $22.50 in 2007 and $23.00 in 2008. Funding for the Union Executive will go from $9,139 a year to $10,000, $11,000 and $12,000 over the three year term.
# This monetary proposal exceeds both the current cost of living and the current average wage increases in Ontario and Canada. It also compares favourably to increases agreed with other employees on campus.
Ensuring Reasonable Workload
# The University and the union have agreed to significant improvements to the process of assigning workloads that reasonably can be accomplished in the hours allotted. These enhancements squarely address both parties' concerns about potential overwork.
# These mechanisms will allow the workload of each TA to be custom-made in consultation with the course instructor, taking into account consideration of course enrolment, the specific nature of each assignment and the pacing of work during a term.
Continued Job Security Provisions
# Graduate TAs are now provided Job Security through guaranteed subsequent TAships for the expected completion time of their degree. This is up to 4 years for Doctoral students and 2 years for students in a 2 year Master's program. Students who are past these points in their program may request additional TA appointments which will be considered prior to the more general posting of vacancies.
# The parties have also agreed to new provisions that more clearly describe the appointments process. [See Article 12 in the full details package.]
Additional Collective Agreement Enhancements
# Resolution has been reached on improvements in many other areas including instructional resources, union representation, "No Discrimination" provisions, and Health & Safety training.
# McMaster's graduate tuition fees are almost $700 a year less than the average fee at Ontario universities. The 2006 increase was the first in ten years.
# McMaster ensures a minimum financial support package for Doctoral students of $17,500 per year, in the form of Teaching Assistantships, scholarships, grants and/or bursaries. Low tuition, combined with generous financial support and above-average TA wages have been McMaster's means of meeting graduate student concerns about the cost of their education.
# As a central part of its demands, CUPE has proposed that tuition rates be frozen at the 2005 levels. McMaster is negotiating the employment earnings of TAs. Tuition fees are a spending decision made by students to acquire their education. The new wage rate for a full graduate Teaching Assistantship more than covers the $177 fee increase for a returning TA.
The University has listened to CUPE's bargaining proposals and has responded with a wide-ranging package of improvements addressing TAs' legitimate requests to be well paid and fairly treated.
We encourage you to attend CUPE's General Meeting on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Sports Hall at the new David Braley Athletic Centre. Please consider the information we have shared and vote to hold a formal ratification of the University's settlement proposal.
Acting Provost & Vice-President, Academic