Labour relations

McMaster University has been engaged in collective bargaining with the Building Union of Canada since the fall of 2013.

The Building Union of Canada represents operations & maintenance staff, skilled trades and custodial & cleaning staff.

Related updates

University, IUOE reach tentative agreement
University, Unifor reach tentative agreement

July 25, 2014: McMaster files for proposal vote (Proposal vote – Frequently Asked Questions)

Open letter to members of the BUC bargaining unit 

Dear Colleagues,

The University and BUC have both worked hard over the past eight months to try to negotiate a first agreement. While we have been committed to the bargaining process, a number of compensation issues including wages, pension contributions, benefits, and sick time remain unresolved.

It has been, and continues to be, the University’s preference to reach an agreement with the union. We need to find a solution that is in everyone’s best interest and that ensures the smooth running of the University for our students.

During a meeting with the union and the provincially appointed conciliation officer on July 15, 2014, the University presented two revised contract offers that the union didn’t accept. We also went back to the union on July 24, 2014 once again providing the opportunity to accept either of the two offers we presented during conciliation. The union has rejected the offers.

We believe it’s important that you know the details of the University’s last offer and that you have the chance to vote on whether you accept it. Therefore, we have decided to ask the Ministry of Labour to supervise a vote on the University’s last offer. This process is usually called a Proposal Vote and is a normal option within the bargaining process.

The vote is held by secret ballot. Each person in the bargaining unit has a vote and each vote matters. If a majority of those voting vote in favour of the offer, the offer becomes a new collective agreement and the negotiations are over.

The University’s Proposal Vote Offer includes:

• Increased hourly rates ranging from $15.37/hour to $35.87/hour depending on the job

$750 lump sum cash payments to all members 

• A commitment that all members will earn in excess of the current living wage in Hamilton

A voluntary retirement program providing payments of $10,000 for custodians choosing to retire

increased weekend and night shift premiums from $.80 to $1.00 which are now also available to casual cleaners

increased safety shoe allowance from $160 to $180 

• all employees maintain their current entitlements to benefits, post-retirement benefits, sick leave, vacation, personal leave and holidays

This is an important process, so to help answer any questions you may have, we have prepared additional information. This includes:

• The text of the University’s Proposal Vote Offer

Answers to frequently asked questions

This information is available on the University’s labour relations web site. You can find the link on McMaster’s Daily News website at . The package will also be mailed to you at your home over the next several days.

The vote provides an opportunity for you to have a direct say on the University’s offer and we hope that all members of the BUC bargaining unit will cast a ballot. The vote date is expected to be in about two weeks time but further details about the vote, including the date, time and place, will be provided to you shortly.

Thank you for your consideration.

The University’s Bargaining Team Members


August 7, 2014: University offers immediate living wage, agreement reached on delaying strike/lockout date

August 5, 2014
Delay in counting proposal vote ballots

June 26, 2014: Collective bargaining with Building Union of Canada

April 17, 2014: Update: Negotiations with Building Union of Canada


While each set of negotiations involves issues unique to the specific employee group, McMaster negotiates with all employee unions based on a set of core principles:

  • McMaster values the important work that is performed by all employees at the University
  • The University believes that employees deserve fair and equitable contracts
  • The University bargains in good faith and respects the rights of the various union groups as the designated bargaining agent of the unit each represents
  • Negotiations work best when they happen at the table and not through the media or other avenues of communication
  • McMaster has a significant track record of working positively and productively with the various unions at the University
  • Like all other universities, McMaster is facing significant economic challenges and both short and long-term solutions must be found to ensure the University is in the strongest possible position to provide the best learning experience for students and support McMaster’s outstanding researchers