Online Assembly Information

RSVPs and attendance

What to know about showing up

How to participate in the assembly, and non-secret ballot votes

How to participate in secret ballot votes

Questions about online assemblies

Before the Assembly

 
  • RSVP - you won’t be able to vote if you do not RSVP. 

    • You can RSVP up to 2 hours before the assembly (usually 3 pm).

    • The meeting link will be sent out to attendees who have RSVP’d 24 hours before the assembly and again 2 hours before the assembly.

    • IMPORTANT! Use the email address you plan to access during the assembly to vote. 

  • If you have RSVP'd but don’t receive an email with the meeting link:

    • Check your spam folder. AGSEM emails sometimes get caught in McGill’s spam filter. 

    • Email mail@agsem-aeedem.ca. AGSEM will follow up with you, double-check that we have the correct email address, and troubleshoot the problem.

  • Submit your membership form if you haven't already! All TAs must submit a membership form for each semester they work as a TA. If you are working this semester, you need to submit a new one, even if you have already submitted a form in the past (we feel your pain, but it’s how labour law governs the union’s certification). 

    • If you have submitted your membership form to your department, the union should already have it. 

    • If you have not returned your membership form yet, please send it directly to the union at mail@agsem-aeedem.ca. Here’s a blank form.

    • If you aren’t sure if your membership forms are up to date, don’t worry. RSVP anyway, and AGSEM will follow up with you if anything is missing.

Attending the Assembly

 
  • Please enter the meeting 15-30 minutes before the assembly starts (4:30-4:45). A voting support team member will verify your membership as you enter the meeting. 

  • Once you enter, change your zoom profile to your full name, your pronouns, and “v” for voting (eg: Frank Sobotka, he/him - V). If you are a non-voting attendee, write “Guest” instead of “V”.

  • You don’t need to have your camera on, and you should keep yourself on mute when not speaking.

  • If we don’t have your membership form on file when you enter the meeting, the union will refer to our hiring database to verify that you have worked as a TA. If we aren’t able to find you on our hiring lists, you may need to show us a screenshot of your TA appointment in Workday or an offer letter. Once we verify that you are indeed a member of the bargaining unit, you can enter the meeting but you will need to sign and return the membership form to mail@agsem-aeedem.ca before the voting period starts in order to vote.

  • All items of business will be shared from the chair’s screen. The chair will also put a pdf of the Tentative Agreement in the Zoom chat when the assembly is called to order so that members may have the document to reference on their own. If you arrive late, you can send a private message to a voting support team member to get a copy.

Participating in the Assembly: Non-Secret Votes and Discussion

 
  • Most of the assembly will consist of non-secret ballots and presentations. Here’s how to participate on motions:

    • Moving and seconding: write “[Your Name] - move” or “[Your Name] - second” in the chat. The chair will recognize movers and seconders.

    • Non-secret voting on motions: A Zoom poll will be used for each motion. Your options will be “in favour”, “opposed”, or “abstain.” If you would like your abstention noted in the minutes, write “abstain - noted” in the chat. 

  • Questions and discussion:

    • Write “[Your Name] - list” in the chat in order to be added to the speaker's list. The recording secretary will keep track of the list, and will give preference to members who have not spoken yet on the current motion. The chair will recognize you when it is your turn to speak.

    • Note that a question period is on the agenda following the presentation of the tentative agreement, to be followed by discussion and debate. Please write down any questions that come up and save them until after the presentation.

  • Introducing a privileged motion:

    • If you have a motion that takes precedence over the business at hand, write your motion in the chat and the chair will recognize you to state your motion. So you might write “point of order”, “point of parliamentary inquiry”, “point of information”, “call the question”, “motion to adjourn”, or “point of personal privilege.”

    • This includes things like not being able to hear the person speaking, a piece of important contextual information, or other pressing, important points that impact meeting attendees. (It does not include individual technical issues.)

  • A voting support team will be on hand to help verify your membership and troubleshoot any issues that come up related to voting or your participation in the assembly. Their zoom profile names will start with “(Support)” so you can easily find them in the participant list. If you need support at any point, please do not use the public chat. Instead, you can send a private chat message to one of the team members, or you can email mail@agsem-aeedem.ca.

Voting by Secret Ballot

 
  • We have made a simple voting guide here.

  • Once everything has been presented and the question and discussion period is over, it’s time to vote. At this point, the motion to ratify will be moved and seconded. Then, the voting period will begin. 

  • A few general points on the vote itself:

    • The voting period will be initially scheduled to last for 10 minutes but will likely be extended. When the 10 minutes are up, the chair will review how many people have submitted their vote and determine how long to extend the voting period.

    • For example, let's say the chair extends the voting period for five minutes. When that five minutes is up, the chair will announce how many people have cast their vote. At this point, the chair will entertain any motions to extend the voting period from the floor. You can move to extend and specify the length of time. If another member seconds this motion, it will be determined by unanimous consent. Otherwise, the chair will close the vote. 

    • When a secret ballot is conducted in-person, no one may enter or leave the room while the vote is in process and while it is being counted. We must approximate this online, meaning that no one may enter or leave the Zoom meeting during the voting period. 

    • Two scrutineers will be elected to maintain the integrity of the voting process. The scrutineers will not vote. One scrutineer will run the vote on Belenios.

    • For the TA Tentative Agreement, it is a yes/no/abstain vote, decided by a simple majority. The Tentative Agreement is a global agreement, so members cannot vote to accept individual parts of it, or make any amendments: it’s all or nothing. If the members vote to reject the tentative agreement and give the union a new mandate, this will all be decided in subsequent motions.  

  • When the voting period begins, the chair will lead the assembly through the steps of voting. You will have control over your own ballot so you may advance through the steps of voting on your own but we recommend going through the steps along with the chair to avoid confusion.

FAQ

​Q: Who is eligible to vote?

A: Anyone who has worked as a Teaching Assistant in the last calendar year. This includes anyone working from Fall 2019 to the present. 

Q: I don’t have a computer/my internet is down. Can I call into the assembly?

A. Yes, you can call into zoom, but you will need to access your email and a browser in order to vote on ratification. The Belenios voting platform can be used on mobile.

Q: I can’t attend, but I’ve heard enough about the tentative agreement and would like to vote by email. Can I do that?

A. No, unfortunately provincial labour law and the AGSEM Constitution stipulate that ratification of a new collective agreement requires a vote by secret ballot by all members in attendance at the Unit Assembly. 

Q: Can I delegate someone else to vote for me by proxy?

A: No, unfortunately provincial labour law and the AGSEM Constitution stipulate that ratification of a new collective agreement requires a vote by secret ballot by all members in attendance at the Unit Assembly. BUT! Although it is not encouraged, you can enter the meeting late. We cannot guarantee that you will be able to vote if you arrive late. We anticipate that the TA Tentative Agreement presentation will take around 45 min to 1 hour, followed by questions and debate. If you plan to arrive late, please indicate this on your RSVP, or email mail@agsem-aeedem.ca to give us notice.

Q: I am not a member of the bargaining unit, but I’m interested in collective bargaining. Can I attend anyway?

A: Yes, you can attend as a guest (please indicate this in your RSVP). You will need to change your Zoom profile name to indicate that you are a guest ("name - pronouns - guest"). You won’t be able to vote (including moving, seconding, and non-secret ballots) and if you would like to speak, the assembly will need to vote to extend speaking rights to you. If the assembly enters a committee of the whole, non-members will be asked to leave the meeting.

 

Q: There are multiple members in my household. Can we attend on one computer?

A: Yes, but you should each RSVP separately and make sure you each have access to your email during the voting period. You may not be able to fully participate in non-secret votes, which will be done via Zoom polling, if you are attending as one Zoom “participant”.

Q: Why can't we just use Zoom polling for AGSEM's voting?

A: AGSEM is a labour union, and must abide by Québec regulations on binding labour union votes. A Zoom poll would not be a secret ballot vote, and would not be properly secure.

Q: Why does AGSEM run votes differently than PGSS, student clubs, etc?

A: AGSEM is a labour union, unlike PGSS and student clubs. This means that we have to abide by certain regulations around the process and security of voting that other groups do not. We try to make things as clear as possible, and have done the work to make sure this process abides by regulations around binding union votes. If you face any barriers to participation, let us know ASAP: mail@agsem-aeedem.ca

 
Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill

The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) was accredited in 1993 to represent Teaching Assistants at McGill, making us the oldest TA Union in the province. Invigilators joined AGSEM in 2010 and Course Lecturers in 2011. Course lecturers have since separated into the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU).

Email: mail@agsem-aeedem.ca

Phone: 514-398-2582

3641 rue University, suite 207
Montréal, Québec H3A 2B3

*Please note that our office is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible

© 2019 by The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill.