Education for education workers

CUPE Local 3906 and the expansion of academic training


  • Brad Walchuk CUPE Local 3906



This chapter focuses on training for academic workers from an employment-centric lens and examines the role that trade unions, such as the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3906 Unit 1 (representing primarily teaching assistants), play in advocating for training for academic workers at McMaster University. While many other contributions in this volume approach training from a pedagogical lens and examine the role that training plays in cultivating an environment where innovative approaches are developed and teaching and learning are properly valued, this discussion examines training primarily in the context of an employer-employee relationship though a lens of collective bargaining. In recent rounds of collective bargaining, most notably for teaching assistants in 2019, CUPE tabled and secured language to implement a comprehensive, mandatory, and paid training program. This represents the most meaningful inclusion of pedagogical training in collective agreements bargained by Local 3906 since teaching assistants at McMaster first unionized in 1979. This article seeks to contextualize and explain how collective bargaining has facilitated increased awareness of, and access to, pedagogical training for thousands of academic workers.