Letter of Solidarity with CUPE 3906

Dear Dr. Farrar, Dr. Tighe, Dr. Hranilovic, Mr. Van Koughnett, and Ms. Allen;

CUPE locals 2626, 4600, 3913, 3902, 3903, 3904, and 4207 representing over 30,000 contract academic workers such as research assistants, teaching assistants, sessional lecturers, and post-doctoral students at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, York University, Toronto Metropolitan University, and Guelph University stand in solidarity with our comrades at CUPE 3906 at McMaster University who have been on strike since November 21 st after negotiations broke down. Student workers across Ontario have suffered under Bill 124 (which CUPE is currently challenging in court as unconstitutional) and are now further suffering under the weight of record-high inflation (6.9% in Ontario over the last year 1 ) and tuition increases 2 . In Hamilton, the skyrocketing cost of living has placed many McMaster students in untenable conditions 3 . In fact, the living wage in Hamilton has increased by nearly 11% in the last year 4 , yet the salaries of student workers at McMaster have stagnated for the last three years. CUPE 3906’s proposals, consisting of equitable wages, equal pay for equal work (the lowest-wage workers, undergraduates, are making $19 an hour less than graduate student workers), and access to employment opportunities are issues that concern us all. Without equitable salaries, tuition increases represent wage theft, and inflation without cost-of-living adjustments to salaries means decreased buying power and a further descent into poverty. #BetterMac is not just a campaign for one Local, but for the rights of student workers across Ontario. If McMaster is truly committed to creating a brighter world 5 , does this not involve achieving a fair, equitable agreement with some of your most precarious workers? McMaster has reported surpluses totalling nearly 750 million dollars since 2016, yet the salary mass of nearly 1/3 of its workers (i.e., 3906 members) accounts for only 3.7% of the total payroll. These statistics are egregious; it is simply unethical that 3906 members are still not paid a living wage. What message does this send to current and future students? Your student workforce is the backbone of your university, and it is time to show them respect and dignity. As Canada’s most impactful university 6 , U15 universities and beyond look to McMaster for leadership and guidance. The longer this strike continues, the further your intractability becomes clear. We are calling on you to do the right thing and set an example to be followed, rather than one which further deepens the inequities in our precarious society.

CUPE 3906’s comrades stand in solidarity