Hamilton

McMaster University and local union representing TAs reach tentative agreement

After two days of meetings with a provincial mediator, McMaster University and the local union representing teaching assistants have reached a tentative agreement. It comes before the union's strike deadline of Monday, Nov. 25.

The union will vote early next week on whether to accept it or not

McMaster University and the local union representing teaching assistants have reached a tentative agreement ahead of the Nov. 25 strike deadline. (CBC)

McMaster University and the local union representing teaching assistants have reached a tentative agreement ahead of the union's strike deadline. 

The agreement comes after two days of bargaining between the university and CUPE local 3906, which represents around 2,900 teaching and research assistants, markers, tutors, and demonstrators. Negotiations began in the spring, and the past two days of meetings were assisted by a provincially-appointed mediator. 

The union was going to be in a legal strike position as of this coming Monday, Nov. 25. 

"Our discussions at the bargaining table were very productive and we are pleased that we were able to reach a tentative agreement well in advance of the strike deadline," said Doug Welch, chair of McMaster University's bargaining committee.

The agreement must be ratified by both the university and the union. The university's ratification motion will go to the McMaster Board of Governors, and the union will schedule a vote.  

"We look forward to bringing this agreement before our members so they can have the opportunity to review its contents and vote on whether or not to accept it," said Nathan Todd, Chair of CUPE 3906.

In a press release, CUPE said that members will meet and hold a ratification vote sometime early next week. Details of the meeting will be released to members, the union said, once finalized. 

CUPE 3906 also added that no further comment will be made until its members have the chance to review and vote on the tentative agreement. 

Earlier this fall, union members voted 87 per cent in favour of authorizing strike action, if necessary. 

In a press release from this November, the union highlighted some of the biggest challenges faced by teaching assistants as lack of training, threats to job security, and wages that are near or below their tuition fees.  

The union stated that its members wanted paid training for teaching assistants, a cap on the number of students in a tutorial or lab, and wages that keep up with the cost of living. They also noted a desire to close the pay gap between graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants and for longer guaranteed teaching periods for job security.  

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