CUPE 3906 Postdoctoral Fellows Bargaining Blog

April 29, 2009

Bargaining Bulletin #6 – April 29 Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — CUPE 3906 - McMaster University @ 6:22 pm

April 29, 2009

Dear Member,

As you know, we have been bargaining a first contract for Post-doctoral Fellows here at McMaster. We have been at the table since November, and the process has been slow – but we are close to a conclusion! While bargaining has gone smoothly in places and we have made important gains, the process has ground to a halt because the employer has not moved on four essential components of the final agreement:

  • Wage erosion protection
  • Benefits
  • Academic freedom
  • Complete participatory rights as members of the McMaster community

As part of our commitment to reach a fair settlement, we have moved significantly in our proposals, and particularly in our monetary proposals. However, we remain committed to the principles established at the beginning of the process. On April 17th we presented what we feel is the minimum package we can agree to. We met the Employer today (April 29th), but did not receive a response to our proposals. They have indicated that we will receive a comprehensive response at the next meeting on May 5th.

Today, you may have received an email from the Dean of Graduate Studies, Alison Sekuler, regarding the bargaining process. Regarding the content of “Setting the Record Straight”, the Union stands behind our earlier communications.

  • A base salary that is $15,000 below the current average sets the stage for wage concessions. Further, a wage rate that has no annual increase to match the cost of living is, in effect, concessionary.
  • The Employer has tabled no new benefits or money in any category for PDF support over a three year contract. This is a freeze. Indeed, in the context of an economic recession, it sets the stage for rollbacks if funding is reduced (please see the Employer’s package posted on our blog at ).

Dr. Sekuler also states that we have proposed language that would enable a PDF to be replaced or “bumped.” This is fundamentally and categorically inaccurate. Our top priority is job security. What we have tabled is a proposal that stipulates that in the event that laid off employees are recalled, they must be recalled in order of seniority, provided they remain qualified to do the work.

In Dr. Sekuler’s email, she implied that the Union is planning to take action without first consulting our members. Again, this is untrue. We have always, and will always, operate at the direction of our members. Throughout bargaining we have endeavoured to keep PDFs informed of our proposals, and to engage them in our decisions. Our office continues to be open and we welcome your contributions, questions and participation. Our final proposal package is available online at .

Please visit the blog, post comments and questions, and feel free to contact us. Further, in the FAQ section there is information about Conciliation, Mediation, Arbitration, Strike Votes and other elements of the bargaining process and how they work. Please ask us any questions that may arise from this – or any other- material.

We are holding a Special General Membership Meeting for Post-Doctoral Fellows on Thursday May 7th at 4pm at the Union Office (B108 Wentworth House). Please come out, see the package, ask your questions and participate in the process. Your engagement at this time is crucial!

We hope that our next meeting will be productive in resolving the remaining issues, and that conciliation (bringing in a government mediator) will not be necessary. To help us achieve a resolution, please send a letter of support to the Employer by visiting

In Solidarity;

Your Bargaining Team

CUPE 3906


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