McMaster march to president’s office planned with TAs, RAs’ strike now in Week 3
Published December 6, 2022 at 9:44 pm
Hundreds of McMaster University students and faculty will march in support of striking teaching assistants (TAs) and research assistants (RAs) on the final day of the fall term.
Supporters of the striking workers who belong to Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3906 unit 1 plan meet on Thursday morning (Dec. 8) in order to deliver giant letters of support to McMaster President David Farrar’s office in Gilmour Hall. The group Students for CUPE 3906 says more than 700 students and faculty have signed two letters since the TAs and RAs began their strike on Nov. 21 at the Hamilton university.
“You won’t be able to miss us,” organizer Naia Lee wrote in a social media post on Tuesday.
What’s the use of writing letters to admin if they won’t read them? Over 500 Mac students and 150 faculty have signed in support of @cupe_3906 – on Thursday, we march to President Farrar’s office together. You won’t be able to miss us. #BetterMac #MacStrike pic.twitter.com/l8rhYgd76P
— Naia Lee (@naiaehlee) December 7, 2022
The TAs and RAs have been without an agreement with McMaster since the start of the school year. In the spring, the main concerns of the membership were an increased hourly wage, guaranteed funding for a fifth year for Ph.D. students, a reduced pay gap between undergraduates and postgraduates, 65-hour work contracts and more paid training access.
Some 145 professors and associate professors signed a letter arguing many graduate students in McMaster live in “near poverty.” They contended that since 2019, the average yearly rent in Hamilton has seen a nearly eightfold higher increase than the jump in maximum yearly gross pay for graduate student TAs/RAs.
McMaster made its last offer on Nov. 18, the Friday before the strike began. The university announced Tuesday it “has been in touch with the provincially appointed mediator to confirm with CUPE that we are willing to meet today, tomorrow, or anytime to receive a meaningful counteroffer.”
The same post at labour-updates.mcmaster.ca also claimed that nearly half of CUPE’s members at McMaster are still working. By McMaster’s count, 45 per cent of the TAs and RAs “are at work,” and that ranges to 60 to 75 per cent in some faculties.
“Our goal has always been to get back to the table to negotiate a fair contract. We are disappointed we have not received a counteroffer from CUPE,” stated Susan Tighe, McMaster’s provost and vice-president (Academic). “We know our community wants to see an end to this strike, and so does the university.”
In their release, just hours later, Students for CUPE 3906 said the march to Farrar’s officer is a “show of solidary” with the striking TAs and RAs. It also accused the university of “striking tactics and (a) misinformation campaign.”
McMaster has been in touch with the provincially appointed mediator to confirm with CUPE 3906, Unit 1 (representing TAs and RAs in lieu) that the university is willing to meet anytime to receive a meaningful counteroffer. 1/ https://t.co/vvmAaxkHAH
— McMaster University (@McMasterU) December 7, 2022
In October, CUPE 3906 Unit 1 had a 90 per cent vote to strike if necessary.
The solidarity action is planned for 11 a.m. to 12 noon on Thursday. It will start at the intersection of Sterling St and Forsyth St. in west Hamilton.
— with files from Liam McConnellinsauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising