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FAQ: TA Strike

Last updated March 21, 2024

McGill TAs approved the strike mandate in the course of unit assemblies 
o
n 13-16 March 2024 (
87.5% in favor) with a record turnout.

 

Below you can learn more about what the strike means, how it will look like for you (TAs), and how you can show your support (course lecturer, faculty, undergraduate students).

Pour la FAQ en français, sélectionnez Français dans le menu déroulant en haut de cette page.

Teaching Assistants FAQ

  • How do I participate?
    Follow the No More Free Hours guide above! Wear a No More Free Hours pin around campus and while you work! Sign the pledge! Signing will allow you to join your faculty support network! Talk to your fellow TAs and your department delegate! Fill out the workload form with your supervisor! Track your hours! Tell everyone you are not working for free!
  • What is work-to-rule? Is it legal?
    Work-to-rule is a form of collective action that involves workers doing exactly the amount of work required by their contracts and following all the rules and regulations strictly. It is NOT a strike or a slowdown. It is a way of asserting our labour rights and showing the employer how much we contribute to the university It is completely legal and protected by the Labour Code as long as we do not breach our Collective Agreement (CA) or interfere with the work of other employees. What is not legal is what McGill is doing: not paying us for our work.
  • Why are we doing work-to-rule?
    Address the ongoing issues of overwork and underpayment of TAs, which affects our financial, academic, social, emotional, and health well-being Protect the rights of graduate TAs, who are highly dissatisfied with their funding and working conditions, and who struggle with financial challenges and mental health issues due to low wages, high tuition fees, and inadequate funding Expose how much academic support is needed to run the university, and how the employer does not respect the existing CA and our labour rights Increase our bargaining power and solidarity as TAs, and support our negotiations Improve our current unbalanced working conditions and compensation, and ensure that our labour is valued and respected by the university
  • But I’m slow!
    Almost every TA we’ve spoken to has said this. Are we really all slow? No. Teaching, grading, reading—all of these things take time. Especially when you care about the quality of feedback. You’re not slow.
  • I do actually take longer to do work because of a disability! What should I do?
    Request accommodations for your work through Human Resources! If you are working for free because your work takes longer (for example, because of dyslexia or another information processing disability), that is discrimination. We all get paid by the hour. No more free hours, not for anyone. Support networks, delegates, and the grievance officer are again available to work through requests for workplace accommodations and any difficulties that might arise along the way!
  • How do I help organize my colleagues, cohort, or department?
    Join your faculty support network! Reach out to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca! There’s lots to do!
  • I’m not a TA! I want to support!
    Thank you!! Sign our open letter here! Spread the word! Talk to your TAs this term about No More Free Hours! We also know that undergrads and non-TAs are sometimes asked to do TA work. We expect McGill to ask non-TAs to do TA work for less to avoid the consequences of this action. Don’t be a scab! Let us know if you are asked to do TA work for less.
  • I am worried about this causing conflict with my course supervisor. What should I do?
    First, you should know that it is McGill’s responsibility to ensure there are enough teaching resources for each course instructor. If there are not enough resources (i.e., paid hours for you), then it is the fault of the administration, not your course supervisor. Tell your course supervisor that this is not against them, personally, but rather a principled stance that graduate student workers are taking to protect their rights AND ensure McGill invests in the teaching resources we need. Departments and course supervisors will never know there is an issue with the number of hours allocated for a position unless we make them aware! Our working conditions are their teaching conditions. Just as our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Students, course instructors, and TAs are all on the same side of this struggle because we all care about the quality of education at this institution. Start with a conversation about how we are all on the same side—we are all interested in providing quality education, and that requires sufficient paid hours. Talk about how you will work together to make sure that you do not work for free—through asking the department for more hours, carefully tracking hours, and planning the workload using the workload form. If the relationship becomes more difficult, tell your support network, delegate, or grievance officer about it. You can bring a union representative, like your delegate or grievance officer, to meetings with your supervisor for support—this is a protected right! These folks will provide accurate information about your rights and the supervisor’s responsibilities, or support you in the way that will work best in your situation. You can also copy your delegate or the grievance officer on any difficult emails, if only for additional oversight. We are here to support one another!
  • How do I explain this to my students?
    First: yes, explain this to your students! Send an email or let them know in the first class, lab, or tutorial. Tell them that McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year, and that you and all TAs are not going to let that happen anymore. Talk about the real consequences: it might get to the point where you stop grading assignments or running labs. Yes, this sucks. But we believe that they deserve better than overworked, burnt out, and underpaid TAs. We’ve seen that McGill will squeeze TAs as far as they can go without care for the quality of education. We want that to stop. In 2020-2021, Suzanne Fortier, the former principal, was paid $860,971.(9) This is nearly the amount of money that was stolen in wage theft from TAs that year. Where is your tuition going? Not nearly enough towards the education that it is paying for. No More Free Hours is part of the labour action that will improve education at McGill, instead of directing your tuition increasingly towards principals who are paid more than most of us will ever dream of.
  • TA contracts have been made smaller because of budgetary constraints, right? What if McGill just doesn’t have the money to pay TAs?
    McGill steals a million dollars in TA wages every year. The total budget for TA wages is currently $12 million. That’s a huge portion the administration is keeping for themselves. The former principal, Suzanne Fortier, was paid $860,971 in 2020-2021. They had enough money to pay her almost as much as they stole from TAs! The McGill endowment is currently $1.8 billion.(10) Its value has stayed fairly steady since 2018, fluctuating by about 5%. The entire current TA budget of $12 million is 0.7% of that endowment. To stop wage theft, it would only take 0.05% of the endowment. The endowment is used to fund university activities (in addition to funding from the government and tuition). In 2021, $70.4 million dollars was distributed among faculties for their use; $57.4 million of that was spent.(11) In fact, from 2017-2020 there was about $10 million distributed to faculties every year that went unspent and was returned to the fund.(12) There is absolutely enough room to pay TAs what we are worth, for every hour.

General Questions

Strike Timeline

  • How do I participate?
    Follow the No More Free Hours guide above! Wear a No More Free Hours pin around campus and while you work! Sign the pledge! Signing will allow you to join your faculty support network! Talk to your fellow TAs and your department delegate! Fill out the workload form with your supervisor! Track your hours! Tell everyone you are not working for free!
  • What is work-to-rule? Is it legal?
    Work-to-rule is a form of collective action that involves workers doing exactly the amount of work required by their contracts and following all the rules and regulations strictly. It is NOT a strike or a slowdown. It is a way of asserting our labour rights and showing the employer how much we contribute to the university It is completely legal and protected by the Labour Code as long as we do not breach our Collective Agreement (CA) or interfere with the work of other employees. What is not legal is what McGill is doing: not paying us for our work.
  • Why are we doing work-to-rule?
    Address the ongoing issues of overwork and underpayment of TAs, which affects our financial, academic, social, emotional, and health well-being Protect the rights of graduate TAs, who are highly dissatisfied with their funding and working conditions, and who struggle with financial challenges and mental health issues due to low wages, high tuition fees, and inadequate funding Expose how much academic support is needed to run the university, and how the employer does not respect the existing CA and our labour rights Increase our bargaining power and solidarity as TAs, and support our negotiations Improve our current unbalanced working conditions and compensation, and ensure that our labour is valued and respected by the university
  • But I’m slow!
    Almost every TA we’ve spoken to has said this. Are we really all slow? No. Teaching, grading, reading—all of these things take time. Especially when you care about the quality of feedback. You’re not slow.
  • I do actually take longer to do work because of a disability! What should I do?
    Request accommodations for your work through Human Resources! If you are working for free because your work takes longer (for example, because of dyslexia or another information processing disability), that is discrimination. We all get paid by the hour. No more free hours, not for anyone. Support networks, delegates, and the grievance officer are again available to work through requests for workplace accommodations and any difficulties that might arise along the way!
  • How do I help organize my colleagues, cohort, or department?
    Join your faculty support network! Reach out to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca! There’s lots to do!
  • I’m not a TA! I want to support!
    Thank you!! Sign our open letter here! Spread the word! Talk to your TAs this term about No More Free Hours! We also know that undergrads and non-TAs are sometimes asked to do TA work. We expect McGill to ask non-TAs to do TA work for less to avoid the consequences of this action. Don’t be a scab! Let us know if you are asked to do TA work for less.
  • I am worried about this causing conflict with my course supervisor. What should I do?
    First, you should know that it is McGill’s responsibility to ensure there are enough teaching resources for each course instructor. If there are not enough resources (i.e., paid hours for you), then it is the fault of the administration, not your course supervisor. Tell your course supervisor that this is not against them, personally, but rather a principled stance that graduate student workers are taking to protect their rights AND ensure McGill invests in the teaching resources we need. Departments and course supervisors will never know there is an issue with the number of hours allocated for a position unless we make them aware! Our working conditions are their teaching conditions. Just as our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Students, course instructors, and TAs are all on the same side of this struggle because we all care about the quality of education at this institution. Start with a conversation about how we are all on the same side—we are all interested in providing quality education, and that requires sufficient paid hours. Talk about how you will work together to make sure that you do not work for free—through asking the department for more hours, carefully tracking hours, and planning the workload using the workload form. If the relationship becomes more difficult, tell your support network, delegate, or grievance officer about it. You can bring a union representative, like your delegate or grievance officer, to meetings with your supervisor for support—this is a protected right! These folks will provide accurate information about your rights and the supervisor’s responsibilities, or support you in the way that will work best in your situation. You can also copy your delegate or the grievance officer on any difficult emails, if only for additional oversight. We are here to support one another!
  • How do I explain this to my students?
    First: yes, explain this to your students! Send an email or let them know in the first class, lab, or tutorial. Tell them that McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year, and that you and all TAs are not going to let that happen anymore. Talk about the real consequences: it might get to the point where you stop grading assignments or running labs. Yes, this sucks. But we believe that they deserve better than overworked, burnt out, and underpaid TAs. We’ve seen that McGill will squeeze TAs as far as they can go without care for the quality of education. We want that to stop. In 2020-2021, Suzanne Fortier, the former principal, was paid $860,971.(9) This is nearly the amount of money that was stolen in wage theft from TAs that year. Where is your tuition going? Not nearly enough towards the education that it is paying for. No More Free Hours is part of the labour action that will improve education at McGill, instead of directing your tuition increasingly towards principals who are paid more than most of us will ever dream of.
  • TA contracts have been made smaller because of budgetary constraints, right? What if McGill just doesn’t have the money to pay TAs?
    McGill steals a million dollars in TA wages every year. The total budget for TA wages is currently $12 million. That’s a huge portion the administration is keeping for themselves. The former principal, Suzanne Fortier, was paid $860,971 in 2020-2021. They had enough money to pay her almost as much as they stole from TAs! The McGill endowment is currently $1.8 billion.(10) Its value has stayed fairly steady since 2018, fluctuating by about 5%. The entire current TA budget of $12 million is 0.7% of that endowment. To stop wage theft, it would only take 0.05% of the endowment. The endowment is used to fund university activities (in addition to funding from the government and tuition). In 2021, $70.4 million dollars was distributed among faculties for their use; $57.4 million of that was spent.(11) In fact, from 2017-2020 there was about $10 million distributed to faculties every year that went unspent and was returned to the fund.(12) There is absolutely enough room to pay TAs what we are worth, for every hour.

Strike Activities and Strike Pay

  • How do I participate?
    Follow the No More Free Hours guide above! Wear a No More Free Hours pin around campus and while you work! Sign the pledge! Signing will allow you to join your faculty support network! Talk to your fellow TAs and your department delegate! Fill out the workload form with your supervisor! Track your hours! Tell everyone you are not working for free!
  • What is work-to-rule? Is it legal?
    Work-to-rule is a form of collective action that involves workers doing exactly the amount of work required by their contracts and following all the rules and regulations strictly. It is NOT a strike or a slowdown. It is a way of asserting our labour rights and showing the employer how much we contribute to the university It is completely legal and protected by the Labour Code as long as we do not breach our Collective Agreement (CA) or interfere with the work of other employees. What is not legal is what McGill is doing: not paying us for our work.
  • Why are we doing work-to-rule?
    Address the ongoing issues of overwork and underpayment of TAs, which affects our financial, academic, social, emotional, and health well-being Protect the rights of graduate TAs, who are highly dissatisfied with their funding and working conditions, and who struggle with financial challenges and mental health issues due to low wages, high tuition fees, and inadequate funding Expose how much academic support is needed to run the university, and how the employer does not respect the existing CA and our labour rights Increase our bargaining power and solidarity as TAs, and support our negotiations Improve our current unbalanced working conditions and compensation, and ensure that our labour is valued and respected by the university
  • But I’m slow!
    Almost every TA we’ve spoken to has said this. Are we really all slow? No. Teaching, grading, reading—all of these things take time. Especially when you care about the quality of feedback. You’re not slow.
  • I do actually take longer to do work because of a disability! What should I do?
    Request accommodations for your work through Human Resources! If you are working for free because your work takes longer (for example, because of dyslexia or another information processing disability), that is discrimination. We all get paid by the hour. No more free hours, not for anyone. Support networks, delegates, and the grievance officer are again available to work through requests for workplace accommodations and any difficulties that might arise along the way!
  • How do I help organize my colleagues, cohort, or department?
    Join your faculty support network! Reach out to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca! There’s lots to do!
  • I’m not a TA! I want to support!
    Thank you!! Sign our open letter here! Spread the word! Talk to your TAs this term about No More Free Hours! We also know that undergrads and non-TAs are sometimes asked to do TA work. We expect McGill to ask non-TAs to do TA work for less to avoid the consequences of this action. Don’t be a scab! Let us know if you are asked to do TA work for less.
  • I am worried about this causing conflict with my course supervisor. What should I do?
    First, you should know that it is McGill’s responsibility to ensure there are enough teaching resources for each course instructor. If there are not enough resources (i.e., paid hours for you), then it is the fault of the administration, not your course supervisor. Tell your course supervisor that this is not against them, personally, but rather a principled stance that graduate student workers are taking to protect their rights AND ensure McGill invests in the teaching resources we need. Departments and course supervisors will never know there is an issue with the number of hours allocated for a position unless we make them aware! Our working conditions are their teaching conditions. Just as our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Students, course instructors, and TAs are all on the same side of this struggle because we all care about the quality of education at this institution. Start with a conversation about how we are all on the same side—we are all interested in providing quality education, and that requires sufficient paid hours. Talk about how you will work together to make sure that you do not work for free—through asking the department for more hours, carefully tracking hours, and planning the workload using the workload form. If the relationship becomes more difficult, tell your support network, delegate, or grievance officer about it. You can bring a union representative, like your delegate or grievance officer, to meetings with your supervisor for support—this is a protected right! These folks will provide accurate information about your rights and the supervisor’s responsibilities, or support you in the way that will work best in your situation. You can also copy your delegate or the grievance officer on any difficult emails, if only for additional oversight. We are here to support one another!
  • How do I explain this to my students?
    First: yes, explain this to your students! Send an email or let them know in the first class, lab, or tutorial. Tell them that McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year, and that you and all TAs are not going to let that happen anymore. Talk about the real consequences: it might get to the point where you stop grading assignments or running labs. Yes, this sucks. But we believe that they deserve better than overworked, burnt out, and underpaid TAs. We’ve seen that McGill will squeeze TAs as far as they can go without care for the quality of education. We want that to stop. In 2020-2021, Suzanne Fortier, the former principal, was paid $860,971.(9) This is nearly the amount of money that was stolen in wage theft from TAs that year. Where is your tuition going? Not nearly enough towards the education that it is paying for. No More Free Hours is part of the labour action that will improve education at McGill, instead of directing your tuition increasingly towards principals who are paid more than most of us will ever dream of.
  • TA contracts have been made smaller because of budgetary constraints, right? What if McGill just doesn’t have the money to pay TAs?
    McGill steals a million dollars in TA wages every year. The total budget for TA wages is currently $12 million. That’s a huge portion the administration is keeping for themselves. The former principal, Suzanne Fortier, was paid $860,971 in 2020-2021. They had enough money to pay her almost as much as they stole from TAs! The McGill endowment is currently $1.8 billion.(10) Its value has stayed fairly steady since 2018, fluctuating by about 5%. The entire current TA budget of $12 million is 0.7% of that endowment. To stop wage theft, it would only take 0.05% of the endowment. The endowment is used to fund university activities (in addition to funding from the government and tuition). In 2021, $70.4 million dollars was distributed among faculties for their use; $57.4 million of that was spent.(11) In fact, from 2017-2020 there was about $10 million distributed to faculties every year that went unspent and was returned to the fund.(12) There is absolutely enough room to pay TAs what we are worth, for every hour.

After the Strike: Back to Work

  • How do I participate?
    Follow the No More Free Hours guide above! Wear a No More Free Hours pin around campus and while you work! Sign the pledge! Signing will allow you to join your faculty support network! Talk to your fellow TAs and your department delegate! Fill out the workload form with your supervisor! Track your hours! Tell everyone you are not working for free!
  • What is work-to-rule? Is it legal?
    Work-to-rule is a form of collective action that involves workers doing exactly the amount of work required by their contracts and following all the rules and regulations strictly. It is NOT a strike or a slowdown. It is a way of asserting our labour rights and showing the employer how much we contribute to the university It is completely legal and protected by the Labour Code as long as we do not breach our Collective Agreement (CA) or interfere with the work of other employees. What is not legal is what McGill is doing: not paying us for our work.
  • Why are we doing work-to-rule?
    Address the ongoing issues of overwork and underpayment of TAs, which affects our financial, academic, social, emotional, and health well-being Protect the rights of graduate TAs, who are highly dissatisfied with their funding and working conditions, and who struggle with financial challenges and mental health issues due to low wages, high tuition fees, and inadequate funding Expose how much academic support is needed to run the university, and how the employer does not respect the existing CA and our labour rights Increase our bargaining power and solidarity as TAs, and support our negotiations Improve our current unbalanced working conditions and compensation, and ensure that our labour is valued and respected by the university
  • But I’m slow!
    Almost every TA we’ve spoken to has said this. Are we really all slow? No. Teaching, grading, reading—all of these things take time. Especially when you care about the quality of feedback. You’re not slow.
  • I do actually take longer to do work because of a disability! What should I do?
    Request accommodations for your work through Human Resources! If you are working for free because your work takes longer (for example, because of dyslexia or another information processing disability), that is discrimination. We all get paid by the hour. No more free hours, not for anyone. Support networks, delegates, and the grievance officer are again available to work through requests for workplace accommodations and any difficulties that might arise along the way!
  • How do I help organize my colleagues, cohort, or department?
    Join your faculty support network! Reach out to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca! There’s lots to do!
  • I’m not a TA! I want to support!
    Thank you!! Sign our open letter here! Spread the word! Talk to your TAs this term about No More Free Hours! We also know that undergrads and non-TAs are sometimes asked to do TA work. We expect McGill to ask non-TAs to do TA work for less to avoid the consequences of this action. Don’t be a scab! Let us know if you are asked to do TA work for less.
  • I am worried about this causing conflict with my course supervisor. What should I do?
    First, you should know that it is McGill’s responsibility to ensure there are enough teaching resources for each course instructor. If there are not enough resources (i.e., paid hours for you), then it is the fault of the administration, not your course supervisor. Tell your course supervisor that this is not against them, personally, but rather a principled stance that graduate student workers are taking to protect their rights AND ensure McGill invests in the teaching resources we need. Departments and course supervisors will never know there is an issue with the number of hours allocated for a position unless we make them aware! Our working conditions are their teaching conditions. Just as our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Students, course instructors, and TAs are all on the same side of this struggle because we all care about the quality of education at this institution. Start with a conversation about how we are all on the same side—we are all interested in providing quality education, and that requires sufficient paid hours. Talk about how you will work together to make sure that you do not work for free—through asking the department for more hours, carefully tracking hours, and planning the workload using the workload form. If the relationship becomes more difficult, tell your support network, delegate, or grievance officer about it. You can bring a union representative, like your delegate or grievance officer, to meetings with your supervisor for support—this is a protected right! These folks will provide accurate information about your rights and the supervisor’s responsibilities, or support you in the way that will work best in your situation. You can also copy your delegate or the grievance officer on any difficult emails, if only for additional oversight. We are here to support one another!
  • How do I explain this to my students?
    First: yes, explain this to your students! Send an email or let them know in the first class, lab, or tutorial. Tell them that McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year, and that you and all TAs are not going to let that happen anymore. Talk about the real consequences: it might get to the point where you stop grading assignments or running labs. Yes, this sucks. But we believe that they deserve better than overworked, burnt out, and underpaid TAs. We’ve seen that McGill will squeeze TAs as far as they can go without care for the quality of education. We want that to stop. In 2020-2021, Suzanne Fortier, the former principal, was paid $860,971.(9) This is nearly the amount of money that was stolen in wage theft from TAs that year. Where is your tuition going? Not nearly enough towards the education that it is paying for. No More Free Hours is part of the labour action that will improve education at McGill, instead of directing your tuition increasingly towards principals who are paid more than most of us will ever dream of.
  • TA contracts have been made smaller because of budgetary constraints, right? What if McGill just doesn’t have the money to pay TAs?
    McGill steals a million dollars in TA wages every year. The total budget for TA wages is currently $12 million. That’s a huge portion the administration is keeping for themselves. The former principal, Suzanne Fortier, was paid $860,971 in 2020-2021. They had enough money to pay her almost as much as they stole from TAs! The McGill endowment is currently $1.8 billion.(10) Its value has stayed fairly steady since 2018, fluctuating by about 5%. The entire current TA budget of $12 million is 0.7% of that endowment. To stop wage theft, it would only take 0.05% of the endowment. The endowment is used to fund university activities (in addition to funding from the government and tuition). In 2021, $70.4 million dollars was distributed among faculties for their use; $57.4 million of that was spent.(11) In fact, from 2017-2020 there was about $10 million distributed to faculties every year that went unspent and was returned to the fund.(12) There is absolutely enough room to pay TAs what we are worth, for every hour.

I am an International Student

  • How do I participate?
    Follow the No More Free Hours guide above! Wear a No More Free Hours pin around campus and while you work! Sign the pledge! Signing will allow you to join your faculty support network! Talk to your fellow TAs and your department delegate! Fill out the workload form with your supervisor! Track your hours! Tell everyone you are not working for free!
  • What is work-to-rule? Is it legal?
    Work-to-rule is a form of collective action that involves workers doing exactly the amount of work required by their contracts and following all the rules and regulations strictly. It is NOT a strike or a slowdown. It is a way of asserting our labour rights and showing the employer how much we contribute to the university It is completely legal and protected by the Labour Code as long as we do not breach our Collective Agreement (CA) or interfere with the work of other employees. What is not legal is what McGill is doing: not paying us for our work.
  • Why are we doing work-to-rule?
    Address the ongoing issues of overwork and underpayment of TAs, which affects our financial, academic, social, emotional, and health well-being Protect the rights of graduate TAs, who are highly dissatisfied with their funding and working conditions, and who struggle with financial challenges and mental health issues due to low wages, high tuition fees, and inadequate funding Expose how much academic support is needed to run the university, and how the employer does not respect the existing CA and our labour rights Increase our bargaining power and solidarity as TAs, and support our negotiations Improve our current unbalanced working conditions and compensation, and ensure that our labour is valued and respected by the university
  • But I’m slow!
    Almost every TA we’ve spoken to has said this. Are we really all slow? No. Teaching, grading, reading—all of these things take time. Especially when you care about the quality of feedback. You’re not slow.
  • I do actually take longer to do work because of a disability! What should I do?
    Request accommodations for your work through Human Resources! If you are working for free because your work takes longer (for example, because of dyslexia or another information processing disability), that is discrimination. We all get paid by the hour. No more free hours, not for anyone. Support networks, delegates, and the grievance officer are again available to work through requests for workplace accommodations and any difficulties that might arise along the way!
  • How do I help organize my colleagues, cohort, or department?
    Join your faculty support network! Reach out to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca! There’s lots to do!
  • I’m not a TA! I want to support!
    Thank you!! Sign our open letter here! Spread the word! Talk to your TAs this term about No More Free Hours! We also know that undergrads and non-TAs are sometimes asked to do TA work. We expect McGill to ask non-TAs to do TA work for less to avoid the consequences of this action. Don’t be a scab! Let us know if you are asked to do TA work for less.
  • I am worried about this causing conflict with my course supervisor. What should I do?
    First, you should know that it is McGill’s responsibility to ensure there are enough teaching resources for each course instructor. If there are not enough resources (i.e., paid hours for you), then it is the fault of the administration, not your course supervisor. Tell your course supervisor that this is not against them, personally, but rather a principled stance that graduate student workers are taking to protect their rights AND ensure McGill invests in the teaching resources we need. Departments and course supervisors will never know there is an issue with the number of hours allocated for a position unless we make them aware! Our working conditions are their teaching conditions. Just as our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Students, course instructors, and TAs are all on the same side of this struggle because we all care about the quality of education at this institution. Start with a conversation about how we are all on the same side—we are all interested in providing quality education, and that requires sufficient paid hours. Talk about how you will work together to make sure that you do not work for free—through asking the department for more hours, carefully tracking hours, and planning the workload using the workload form. If the relationship becomes more difficult, tell your support network, delegate, or grievance officer about it. You can bring a union representative, like your delegate or grievance officer, to meetings with your supervisor for support—this is a protected right! These folks will provide accurate information about your rights and the supervisor’s responsibilities, or support you in the way that will work best in your situation. You can also copy your delegate or the grievance officer on any difficult emails, if only for additional oversight. We are here to support one another!
  • How do I explain this to my students?
    First: yes, explain this to your students! Send an email or let them know in the first class, lab, or tutorial. Tell them that McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year, and that you and all TAs are not going to let that happen anymore. Talk about the real consequences: it might get to the point where you stop grading assignments or running labs. Yes, this sucks. But we believe that they deserve better than overworked, burnt out, and underpaid TAs. We’ve seen that McGill will squeeze TAs as far as they can go without care for the quality of education. We want that to stop. In 2020-2021, Suzanne Fortier, the former principal, was paid $860,971.(9) This is nearly the amount of money that was stolen in wage theft from TAs that year. Where is your tuition going? Not nearly enough towards the education that it is paying for. No More Free Hours is part of the labour action that will improve education at McGill, instead of directing your tuition increasingly towards principals who are paid more than most of us will ever dream of.
  • TA contracts have been made smaller because of budgetary constraints, right? What if McGill just doesn’t have the money to pay TAs?
    McGill steals a million dollars in TA wages every year. The total budget for TA wages is currently $12 million. That’s a huge portion the administration is keeping for themselves. The former principal, Suzanne Fortier, was paid $860,971 in 2020-2021. They had enough money to pay her almost as much as they stole from TAs! The McGill endowment is currently $1.8 billion.(10) Its value has stayed fairly steady since 2018, fluctuating by about 5%. The entire current TA budget of $12 million is 0.7% of that endowment. To stop wage theft, it would only take 0.05% of the endowment. The endowment is used to fund university activities (in addition to funding from the government and tuition). In 2021, $70.4 million dollars was distributed among faculties for their use; $57.4 million of that was spent.(11) In fact, from 2017-2020 there was about $10 million distributed to faculties every year that went unspent and was returned to the fund.(12) There is absolutely enough room to pay TAs what we are worth, for every hour.

Other Questions

  • How do I participate?
    Follow the No More Free Hours guide above! Wear a No More Free Hours pin around campus and while you work! Sign the pledge! Signing will allow you to join your faculty support network! Talk to your fellow TAs and your department delegate! Fill out the workload form with your supervisor! Track your hours! Tell everyone you are not working for free!
  • What is work-to-rule? Is it legal?
    Work-to-rule is a form of collective action that involves workers doing exactly the amount of work required by their contracts and following all the rules and regulations strictly. It is NOT a strike or a slowdown. It is a way of asserting our labour rights and showing the employer how much we contribute to the university It is completely legal and protected by the Labour Code as long as we do not breach our Collective Agreement (CA) or interfere with the work of other employees. What is not legal is what McGill is doing: not paying us for our work.
  • Why are we doing work-to-rule?
    Address the ongoing issues of overwork and underpayment of TAs, which affects our financial, academic, social, emotional, and health well-being Protect the rights of graduate TAs, who are highly dissatisfied with their funding and working conditions, and who struggle with financial challenges and mental health issues due to low wages, high tuition fees, and inadequate funding Expose how much academic support is needed to run the university, and how the employer does not respect the existing CA and our labour rights Increase our bargaining power and solidarity as TAs, and support our negotiations Improve our current unbalanced working conditions and compensation, and ensure that our labour is valued and respected by the university
  • But I’m slow!
    Almost every TA we’ve spoken to has said this. Are we really all slow? No. Teaching, grading, reading—all of these things take time. Especially when you care about the quality of feedback. You’re not slow.
  • I do actually take longer to do work because of a disability! What should I do?
    Request accommodations for your work through Human Resources! If you are working for free because your work takes longer (for example, because of dyslexia or another information processing disability), that is discrimination. We all get paid by the hour. No more free hours, not for anyone. Support networks, delegates, and the grievance officer are again available to work through requests for workplace accommodations and any difficulties that might arise along the way!
  • How do I help organize my colleagues, cohort, or department?
    Join your faculty support network! Reach out to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca! There’s lots to do!
  • I’m not a TA! I want to support!
    Thank you!! Sign our open letter here! Spread the word! Talk to your TAs this term about No More Free Hours! We also know that undergrads and non-TAs are sometimes asked to do TA work. We expect McGill to ask non-TAs to do TA work for less to avoid the consequences of this action. Don’t be a scab! Let us know if you are asked to do TA work for less.
  • I am worried about this causing conflict with my course supervisor. What should I do?
    First, you should know that it is McGill’s responsibility to ensure there are enough teaching resources for each course instructor. If there are not enough resources (i.e., paid hours for you), then it is the fault of the administration, not your course supervisor. Tell your course supervisor that this is not against them, personally, but rather a principled stance that graduate student workers are taking to protect their rights AND ensure McGill invests in the teaching resources we need. Departments and course supervisors will never know there is an issue with the number of hours allocated for a position unless we make them aware! Our working conditions are their teaching conditions. Just as our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Students, course instructors, and TAs are all on the same side of this struggle because we all care about the quality of education at this institution. Start with a conversation about how we are all on the same side—we are all interested in providing quality education, and that requires sufficient paid hours. Talk about how you will work together to make sure that you do not work for free—through asking the department for more hours, carefully tracking hours, and planning the workload using the workload form. If the relationship becomes more difficult, tell your support network, delegate, or grievance officer about it. You can bring a union representative, like your delegate or grievance officer, to meetings with your supervisor for support—this is a protected right! These folks will provide accurate information about your rights and the supervisor’s responsibilities, or support you in the way that will work best in your situation. You can also copy your delegate or the grievance officer on any difficult emails, if only for additional oversight. We are here to support one another!
  • How do I explain this to my students?
    First: yes, explain this to your students! Send an email or let them know in the first class, lab, or tutorial. Tell them that McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year, and that you and all TAs are not going to let that happen anymore. Talk about the real consequences: it might get to the point where you stop grading assignments or running labs. Yes, this sucks. But we believe that they deserve better than overworked, burnt out, and underpaid TAs. We’ve seen that McGill will squeeze TAs as far as they can go without care for the quality of education. We want that to stop. In 2020-2021, Suzanne Fortier, the former principal, was paid $860,971.(9) This is nearly the amount of money that was stolen in wage theft from TAs that year. Where is your tuition going? Not nearly enough towards the education that it is paying for. No More Free Hours is part of the labour action that will improve education at McGill, instead of directing your tuition increasingly towards principals who are paid more than most of us will ever dream of.
  • TA contracts have been made smaller because of budgetary constraints, right? What if McGill just doesn’t have the money to pay TAs?
    McGill steals a million dollars in TA wages every year. The total budget for TA wages is currently $12 million. That’s a huge portion the administration is keeping for themselves. The former principal, Suzanne Fortier, was paid $860,971 in 2020-2021. They had enough money to pay her almost as much as they stole from TAs! The McGill endowment is currently $1.8 billion.(10) Its value has stayed fairly steady since 2018, fluctuating by about 5%. The entire current TA budget of $12 million is 0.7% of that endowment. To stop wage theft, it would only take 0.05% of the endowment. The endowment is used to fund university activities (in addition to funding from the government and tuition). In 2021, $70.4 million dollars was distributed among faculties for their use; $57.4 million of that was spent.(11) In fact, from 2017-2020 there was about $10 million distributed to faculties every year that went unspent and was returned to the fund.(12) There is absolutely enough room to pay TAs what we are worth, for every hour.

Faculty & Course Lecturers FAQ

Sign the Pledge: McGill Community Members Refuse to Take on TA
Scab Work
  • How do I participate?
    Follow the No More Free Hours guide above! Wear a No More Free Hours pin around campus and while you work! Sign the pledge! Signing will allow you to join your faculty support network! Talk to your fellow TAs and your department delegate! Fill out the workload form with your supervisor! Track your hours! Tell everyone you are not working for free!
  • What is work-to-rule? Is it legal?
    Work-to-rule is a form of collective action that involves workers doing exactly the amount of work required by their contracts and following all the rules and regulations strictly. It is NOT a strike or a slowdown. It is a way of asserting our labour rights and showing the employer how much we contribute to the university It is completely legal and protected by the Labour Code as long as we do not breach our Collective Agreement (CA) or interfere with the work of other employees. What is not legal is what McGill is doing: not paying us for our work.
  • Why are we doing work-to-rule?
    Address the ongoing issues of overwork and underpayment of TAs, which affects our financial, academic, social, emotional, and health well-being Protect the rights of graduate TAs, who are highly dissatisfied with their funding and working conditions, and who struggle with financial challenges and mental health issues due to low wages, high tuition fees, and inadequate funding Expose how much academic support is needed to run the university, and how the employer does not respect the existing CA and our labour rights Increase our bargaining power and solidarity as TAs, and support our negotiations Improve our current unbalanced working conditions and compensation, and ensure that our labour is valued and respected by the university
  • But I’m slow!
    Almost every TA we’ve spoken to has said this. Are we really all slow? No. Teaching, grading, reading—all of these things take time. Especially when you care about the quality of feedback. You’re not slow.
  • I do actually take longer to do work because of a disability! What should I do?
    Request accommodations for your work through Human Resources! If you are working for free because your work takes longer (for example, because of dyslexia or another information processing disability), that is discrimination. We all get paid by the hour. No more free hours, not for anyone. Support networks, delegates, and the grievance officer are again available to work through requests for workplace accommodations and any difficulties that might arise along the way!
  • How do I help organize my colleagues, cohort, or department?
    Join your faculty support network! Reach out to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca! There’s lots to do!
  • I’m not a TA! I want to support!
    Thank you!! Sign our open letter here! Spread the word! Talk to your TAs this term about No More Free Hours! We also know that undergrads and non-TAs are sometimes asked to do TA work. We expect McGill to ask non-TAs to do TA work for less to avoid the consequences of this action. Don’t be a scab! Let us know if you are asked to do TA work for less.
  • I am worried about this causing conflict with my course supervisor. What should I do?
    First, you should know that it is McGill’s responsibility to ensure there are enough teaching resources for each course instructor. If there are not enough resources (i.e., paid hours for you), then it is the fault of the administration, not your course supervisor. Tell your course supervisor that this is not against them, personally, but rather a principled stance that graduate student workers are taking to protect their rights AND ensure McGill invests in the teaching resources we need. Departments and course supervisors will never know there is an issue with the number of hours allocated for a position unless we make them aware! Our working conditions are their teaching conditions. Just as our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Students, course instructors, and TAs are all on the same side of this struggle because we all care about the quality of education at this institution. Start with a conversation about how we are all on the same side—we are all interested in providing quality education, and that requires sufficient paid hours. Talk about how you will work together to make sure that you do not work for free—through asking the department for more hours, carefully tracking hours, and planning the workload using the workload form. If the relationship becomes more difficult, tell your support network, delegate, or grievance officer about it. You can bring a union representative, like your delegate or grievance officer, to meetings with your supervisor for support—this is a protected right! These folks will provide accurate information about your rights and the supervisor’s responsibilities, or support you in the way that will work best in your situation. You can also copy your delegate or the grievance officer on any difficult emails, if only for additional oversight. We are here to support one another!
  • How do I explain this to my students?
    First: yes, explain this to your students! Send an email or let them know in the first class, lab, or tutorial. Tell them that McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year, and that you and all TAs are not going to let that happen anymore. Talk about the real consequences: it might get to the point where you stop grading assignments or running labs. Yes, this sucks. But we believe that they deserve better than overworked, burnt out, and underpaid TAs. We’ve seen that McGill will squeeze TAs as far as they can go without care for the quality of education. We want that to stop. In 2020-2021, Suzanne Fortier, the former principal, was paid $860,971.(9) This is nearly the amount of money that was stolen in wage theft from TAs that year. Where is your tuition going? Not nearly enough towards the education that it is paying for. No More Free Hours is part of the labour action that will improve education at McGill, instead of directing your tuition increasingly towards principals who are paid more than most of us will ever dream of.
  • TA contracts have been made smaller because of budgetary constraints, right? What if McGill just doesn’t have the money to pay TAs?
    McGill steals a million dollars in TA wages every year. The total budget for TA wages is currently $12 million. That’s a huge portion the administration is keeping for themselves. The former principal, Suzanne Fortier, was paid $860,971 in 2020-2021. They had enough money to pay her almost as much as they stole from TAs! The McGill endowment is currently $1.8 billion.(10) Its value has stayed fairly steady since 2018, fluctuating by about 5%. The entire current TA budget of $12 million is 0.7% of that endowment. To stop wage theft, it would only take 0.05% of the endowment. The endowment is used to fund university activities (in addition to funding from the government and tuition). In 2021, $70.4 million dollars was distributed among faculties for their use; $57.4 million of that was spent.(11) In fact, from 2017-2020 there was about $10 million distributed to faculties every year that went unspent and was returned to the fund.(12) There is absolutely enough room to pay TAs what we are worth, for every hour.

Undergraduate Students FAQ

Sign the Pledge: McGill Community Members Refuse to Take on TA
Scab Work
  • How do I participate?
    Follow the No More Free Hours guide above! Wear a No More Free Hours pin around campus and while you work! Sign the pledge! Signing will allow you to join your faculty support network! Talk to your fellow TAs and your department delegate! Fill out the workload form with your supervisor! Track your hours! Tell everyone you are not working for free!
  • What is work-to-rule? Is it legal?
    Work-to-rule is a form of collective action that involves workers doing exactly the amount of work required by their contracts and following all the rules and regulations strictly. It is NOT a strike or a slowdown. It is a way of asserting our labour rights and showing the employer how much we contribute to the university It is completely legal and protected by the Labour Code as long as we do not breach our Collective Agreement (CA) or interfere with the work of other employees. What is not legal is what McGill is doing: not paying us for our work.
  • Why are we doing work-to-rule?
    Address the ongoing issues of overwork and underpayment of TAs, which affects our financial, academic, social, emotional, and health well-being Protect the rights of graduate TAs, who are highly dissatisfied with their funding and working conditions, and who struggle with financial challenges and mental health issues due to low wages, high tuition fees, and inadequate funding Expose how much academic support is needed to run the university, and how the employer does not respect the existing CA and our labour rights Increase our bargaining power and solidarity as TAs, and support our negotiations Improve our current unbalanced working conditions and compensation, and ensure that our labour is valued and respected by the university
  • But I’m slow!
    Almost every TA we’ve spoken to has said this. Are we really all slow? No. Teaching, grading, reading—all of these things take time. Especially when you care about the quality of feedback. You’re not slow.
  • I do actually take longer to do work because of a disability! What should I do?
    Request accommodations for your work through Human Resources! If you are working for free because your work takes longer (for example, because of dyslexia or another information processing disability), that is discrimination. We all get paid by the hour. No more free hours, not for anyone. Support networks, delegates, and the grievance officer are again available to work through requests for workplace accommodations and any difficulties that might arise along the way!
  • How do I help organize my colleagues, cohort, or department?
    Join your faculty support network! Reach out to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca! There’s lots to do!
  • I’m not a TA! I want to support!
    Thank you!! Sign our open letter here! Spread the word! Talk to your TAs this term about No More Free Hours! We also know that undergrads and non-TAs are sometimes asked to do TA work. We expect McGill to ask non-TAs to do TA work for less to avoid the consequences of this action. Don’t be a scab! Let us know if you are asked to do TA work for less.
  • I am worried about this causing conflict with my course supervisor. What should I do?
    First, you should know that it is McGill’s responsibility to ensure there are enough teaching resources for each course instructor. If there are not enough resources (i.e., paid hours for you), then it is the fault of the administration, not your course supervisor. Tell your course supervisor that this is not against them, personally, but rather a principled stance that graduate student workers are taking to protect their rights AND ensure McGill invests in the teaching resources we need. Departments and course supervisors will never know there is an issue with the number of hours allocated for a position unless we make them aware! Our working conditions are their teaching conditions. Just as our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Students, course instructors, and TAs are all on the same side of this struggle because we all care about the quality of education at this institution. Start with a conversation about how we are all on the same side—we are all interested in providing quality education, and that requires sufficient paid hours. Talk about how you will work together to make sure that you do not work for free—through asking the department for more hours, carefully tracking hours, and planning the workload using the workload form. If the relationship becomes more difficult, tell your support network, delegate, or grievance officer about it. You can bring a union representative, like your delegate or grievance officer, to meetings with your supervisor for support—this is a protected right! These folks will provide accurate information about your rights and the supervisor’s responsibilities, or support you in the way that will work best in your situation. You can also copy your delegate or the grievance officer on any difficult emails, if only for additional oversight. We are here to support one another!
  • How do I explain this to my students?
    First: yes, explain this to your students! Send an email or let them know in the first class, lab, or tutorial. Tell them that McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year, and that you and all TAs are not going to let that happen anymore. Talk about the real consequences: it might get to the point where you stop grading assignments or running labs. Yes, this sucks. But we believe that they deserve better than overworked, burnt out, and underpaid TAs. We’ve seen that McGill will squeeze TAs as far as they can go without care for the quality of education. We want that to stop. In 2020-2021, Suzanne Fortier, the former principal, was paid $860,971.(9) This is nearly the amount of money that was stolen in wage theft from TAs that year. Where is your tuition going? Not nearly enough towards the education that it is paying for. No More Free Hours is part of the labour action that will improve education at McGill, instead of directing your tuition increasingly towards principals who are paid more than most of us will ever dream of.
  • TA contracts have been made smaller because of budgetary constraints, right? What if McGill just doesn’t have the money to pay TAs?
    McGill steals a million dollars in TA wages every year. The total budget for TA wages is currently $12 million. That’s a huge portion the administration is keeping for themselves. The former principal, Suzanne Fortier, was paid $860,971 in 2020-2021. They had enough money to pay her almost as much as they stole from TAs! The McGill endowment is currently $1.8 billion.(10) Its value has stayed fairly steady since 2018, fluctuating by about 5%. The entire current TA budget of $12 million is 0.7% of that endowment. To stop wage theft, it would only take 0.05% of the endowment. The endowment is used to fund university activities (in addition to funding from the government and tuition). In 2021, $70.4 million dollars was distributed among faculties for their use; $57.4 million of that was spent.(11) In fact, from 2017-2020 there was about $10 million distributed to faculties every year that went unspent and was returned to the fund.(12) There is absolutely enough room to pay TAs what we are worth, for every hour.
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