McMaster University teaching and research assistants went on strike Monday morning, having failed to reach an agreement after almost 24 hours of negotiations. Classes will still run, although university spokesperson Andrea Faquhar told Maclean’s that she could not judge how the strike would affect tutorials and labs.
Pickets were stationed at both entrances to McMaster. Strikers delayed cars to give them information about the strike, leading to lines of traffic.
About 2,700 TAs and research assistants went on strike after CUPE 3906 rejected the university’s best offer on Sunday. McMaster offered wage increases that would have Class A TAs and RAs earning $39.40 per hour and Class B TAs earning $22.15 per hour. The offer also includes higher contributions to dental benefits, continued contribution to the union-administered benefit fund, increased job security, and other provisions. McMaster says the union refused to take the offer to the union membership for a vote, and told Maclean’s the move was unfair to both union members and students.
“It’s ridiculous to drum up support by blocking traffic and keeping people from their day-to-day life,” said Justin Sma, a McMaster student. Sma said he was sympathetic until his car was stopped by picketers. “In fact, I think this sort of protesting causes negative support. These people should get off the road and back to work,” he said.
Another McMaster student, Mike Wolfsgruber, said students were casualties in the middle of a battle between TAs and the university. “We should receive compensation for every hour of education we miss,” he said.
When York’s TAs, contract faculty, and researchers went on strike, the university closed for three months and delayed the school year into the summer. Second-year York student Laila Halimi said she was glad to see York isn’t the only one with strike woes. “It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside,” she joked.
There is no word on when negotiations will go forward or when the strike is expected to end. McMaster has granted students extended deadlines for course withdrawal and set up a strike hotline. A university spokesperson said no further meetings have been scheduled with the union.