AGSEM Newsletter - April 2022

Updated: May 27

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Highlights from the last AGSEM General Assembly On April 14, 2022, the AGSEM General Assembly happened for the main purpose of presenting the yearly reports and electing the new executive and committee members for a yearly mandate of the academic year 2022-2023. If you still want to be part of a committee, please contact us at mobilization@agsem-aeedem.ca Congratulations to Kiersten van Vliet for having been elected the new Mobilization officer and everyone who has been elected to be part of a committee. Thank you to Antonia Macris for her contribution to the union in having been the Mobilization officer since February 2021. As of May 1, 2022, your new AGSEM Executive Committee elected for a one-year term is: President: Mario Roy (president@agsem-aeedem.ca) Secretary-General: Matei Petrescu (Sec-Treasurer@agsem-aeedem.ca) Mobilization Officer: Kiersten van Vliet (mobilization@agsem-aeedem.ca) External Communications Officer: Marta Beszterda (communications.officer@agsem-aeedem.ca) Grievance Officer Unit 1: Jean-Philip Mathieu (grievance.1@agsem-aeedem.ca) Grievance Officer Unit 2: Teresa Joseph (grievance.2@agsem-aeedem.ca) Macdonald Campus Officer: Karan Kumar (macdonald.officer@agsem-aeedem.ca) TA Bargaining Chair: Karan Kumar (bargainingchairTA@agsem-aeedem.ca ) Please do not hesitate to contact any of us if you have questions or concerns. We will be more than happy to help you! Workday Compensation Update On January 28, 2022, following a resolution from the AGSEM Delegates’ Council, the union signed a letter of agreement with the university resolving the issue of TAs not paid on time due to issues with Workday’s inefficient implementation. All TAs who experienced late pay will be entitled to a one-time compensation of $40.00 plus $20.00 for each delayed pay period. AGSEM has sent its list of employees eligible for compensation to McGill. However, if your pay was delayed and you did not contact the union, you can still submit a claim directly to the university until 1 May, 2022 at hr.hr@mcgill.ca. You need to include the date your pay was finally processed on time, your employee ID (same as your student ID), and your current email address. Compensation will be paid via direct deposit for active employees. Please make sure that your banking information is up to date in Workday. For those that are no longer employees, you can send an email to hr.hr@mcgill.ca that includes your current banking information. This information must also be sent by 1 May 2022. If no banking information is sent, a cheque will be issued by the university and sent to the mailing address you provided. Until all the issues in Workday are solved, AGSEM is requesting a task force that includes representatives from employee groups, power users and associations at McGill, as well as members of McGill's R2R team to work on system upgrades. We need to solve all issues, minor and major, in a systematic way: small and short term fixes are not sustainable. If you have any questions or if you are experiencing any issues with Workday, please contact us, and don’t forget that if you are spending time trying to sort out any Workday issues, this should be reflected in your Workload form. Right to refuse unsafe work As stated in article 15.02.05 of the TA Collective Agreement, you have the right to refuse unsafe work. “An Employee has the right to refuse to perform a task if the Employee has reasonable grounds to believe that the performance of the task would endanger the Employee’s health, safety or physical well-being, or would expose another person to a similar danger (...).” If you have concerns about work safety as a TA, please contact us directly at grievance.1@agsem-aeedem.ca. PGSS N95 Mask Program PGSS has now set up a N95 mask distribution program for its members on a pay-what-you-can basis. Reservation is required. Find out more information here. If you would like to access the masks distributed by PGSS, but you are not able to pick them up on your own, please contact your AGSEM Delegate to coordinate your mask order. Are you an AGSEM Delegate and you would like to coordinate a mask order for the TAs in your department? Email communication.officer@agsem-aeedem.ca AGSEM introduces online membership forms for Teaching Assistants and Invigilators We are happy to announce that starting December 2021, AGSEM members can fill out their membership forms online. You can fill out your form here. While we encourage everyone to use the new online system, please be assured that we still accept paper membership forms (sent to our office at 3641 rue University, suite 207), as well as the PDF format sent to us via email. Invigilators AGSEM is advocating for a safe and sanitary working environment for invigilators during the Winter 2022 final exam period. We asked the employer a number of questions to learn about the health and safety standards the University put in place. You can find information AGSEM received from McGill in mid-November on our website at https://www.agsem.ca/winter-2022-invigilation. If you are employed as an invigilator and your working conditions are unsafe, unsanitary, or do not comply with COVID-19 regulations, please take a photo of the situation (if possible) and contact the Grievance Officer at grievance.2@agsem-aeedem.ca. Negotiation Update: The Invigilator Bargaining Committee and the Employer have met 22 times since the start of negotiations in March 2021. We have reached agreements in principle on Articles 1-4, 6, 8-10, 15, 16, 17. We are now sharing global proposals on Articles 11-14 and monetary. We are currently waiting for McGill to share its monetary proposal at our next meeting on April 27. Our negotiation team found that we were very far apart from the Employer on the management of employees, including ensuring that there is an adequate number of invigilators and circulators hired per student. As a result, we have decided to move to global non-monetary negotiations of all remaining articles (11, 12, 13 & 14) to determine whether the employer is willing to address major issues with workplace management that invigilators have raised—issues that have subsequently informed our bargaining priorities. Things will likely move very quickly once we receive McGill’s monetary proposal, and your bargaining team will need your input for what to do next. As soon as there are any major developments during the negotiation process—that is, an agreement in principle reached between the two parties, or an impasse in the negotiations—the AGSEM Executive Committee will call a Unit 2 Assembly. The decision whether or not to accept an Employer’s final offer and adopt that text as the new Invigilator Collective Agreement is subject to a democratic vote at a Unit Assembly. We will email all invigilators and announce on the website when we call a Unit 2 Assembly. A more detailed description of the course of negotiations is available in past editions of the AGSEM monthly newsletter, and a description of the Bargaining Committee’s mandate is available on the AGSEM website. Invigilator Delegates If you have worked as an Invigilator at any point between now and Winter 2019, you are likely eligible to become an AGSEM Invigilator Delegate. TA and Invigilator Delegates meet once a month as the Delegates’ Council and represent their Hiring Units to establish priorities for the Union. Invigilator representation is especially important now that we are in collective negotiations. Invigilator Delegates are compensated with a $125 honorarium to attend at least two Delegate Council meetings per semester. If you are interested in becoming an Invigilator Delegate, please contact mobilization@agsem-aeedem.ca. Do you want to become a delegate? We are currently looking for AGSEM members who would like to get involved in the union! You can contact mobilization@agsem-aeedem.ca and become a delegate for your department; as TA or invigilator. You will be able to participate in union activities and help your colleagues know their right in their work at McGill. Many delegate positions are opening in the next few months. Do not hesitate to send us an email! Update on Udrive campaign On April 30, 2020, the Unionization team submitted a request for accreditation to McGill with the help of the CSN to represent all academic casuals (Unit 3) at the Tribunal administratif du Travail (TAT). This process is still active and we are hopeful of a positive outcome. The delays are explained by the fact that the list of people subject to accreditation submitted by the employer (McGill University) was, in our opinion, inadequate and incomplete. Following several discussions with the TAT judge on the filing, as well as with employer representatives, we submitted a new list on February 25, 2021 with our comments and remarks. Names were added, based on those we have collected membership cards from, and others were removed based on their position not representing that of what the team deemed to be appropriate Unit 3. In November 2021, we received another response from McGill that was not satisfactory. A hearing at the TAT was supposed to take place last month but was postponed until May 2022. Please email us at udrive@agsem-aeedem.ca if you have any comments or questions. Working Groups Update Here is the recording link for those interested members unable to attend the talk by Dr. Vaile Wright on April 5th on ‘Resilience Fatigue & Covid-19’. The Mental Health Working Group invites you to a talk on 'Impostor phenomenon in graduate studies' by Prof. Devasmita Chakraverty on May 4th, 10:00 am EST. RSVP here

Dr. Chakraverty will speak on the Impostor phenomenon in relation to graduate students and TAs. The talk is scheduled for an hour and a half with a presentation for an hour followed by a Q & A for half an hour. Members are encouraged to invite departmental colleagues and academic mentors for the talk.

If you have any ideas for the International Student, Mental Health, and Graduate Funding working groups, feel free to reach out to macdonald.officer@agsem-aeedem.ca.

Recent Solidarity Initiatives

AGSEM stands in solidarity with MUNACA during their strike!

AGSEM members can support the strike by not crossing picket lines (or best, by joining them!) and by signing the letter of support available here.


Don't forget to follow MUNACA on Facebook and Instagram

Previous Solidarity Initiatives

  • AGSEM Stands in Solidarity with Ukraine

Since February 24, the Russian Federation has continued a military invasion of Ukraine, and is responsible for major destruction of the country, and hundreds of civilian casualties, including children. Russian aggression has caused a humanitarian crisis, and–to date–has caused nearly 2 million Ukrainians to flee the country. The invasion continues to create a major risk to global safety and international peace.

AGSEM condemns Russian aggression against Ukraine and stands in solidarity with Ukrainian people affected by the war, including Ukrainian workers, teachers, and students.

Moreover, we condemn persecutions, censorship and disinformation Russia perpetuates against its own citizens and that AGSEM stands in solidarity with those who suffer persecution in Russia for protesting war

AGSEM stands in solidarity with all Ukrainian, Russian, and Eastern European members of McGill and Montreal community affected by these circumstances

The Ukrainian people and their country urgently need financial help to survive. Please consider donating to Ukraine. You can find a list of verified charities here.

The above motion was approved unanimously by AGSEM Delegate Council on March 8, 2022.

  • AGSEM stands in solidarity with international students affected by closure and bankruptcy of three colleges in Quebec

International students, many of whom are from India, enrolled in three educational institutions run by Rising Phoenix International Inc, namely, M College in Montreal, CED College in Sherbrooke, and CCSQ College in Longueuil, all in the province of Quebec have been affected by the notice of closure of these institutions in December, 2021. The provincial government of Quebec has advised that affected students may directly contact the institutions where they are registered, and in the event they find any difficulty in reimbursement of their fees or transfer of fees (to another educational institution), they may file a complaint with the Ministry of Higher Education, Government of Quebec. Canadian authorities are providing a grace period to students already present in Canada, enrolled in these colleges, to seek a change of their institute of learning and seek admission in alternative institutions. Although a prospective buyer of the colleges has emerged to continue the educational services provided by these institutions, many students still face uncertainty in regard to tuition reimbursement and renewal of federal and provincial study permits.

The closure of these educational institutions is a reflection of the entry of unscrupulous private operators in education in Quebec leading to gouging tuition fees and dropping educational standards affecting International students.

On March 10, 2022, AGSEM Executive Council approved a motion of solidarity with International students affected by the closure of the three colleges in Quebec, and requested the AGSEM International Students’ Working Group to brainstorm ways to identify vulnerabilities (in regard to tuition & funding, immigration, mental health, food insecurity etc.) of international students in Canada.

Mobilization Update

Invigilator Mobilization Campaign – Winter 2022 Final Exams

Dear invigilators, thank you for coming to chat with us at the mobilization table during the final exams at the Tomlinson Fieldhouse! We worked closely with the Invigilator Bargaining Committee to put together a mobilization strategy so we can best connect with you during the exam period.


For updates on Invigilator Bargaining, see the “Invigilators” section of this Newsletter.

Mobilization Committee

The Mobilization committee is actively working on developing related Information Campaigns and initiatives focused around the following union priorities:

  1. Progress of the Invigilator Bargaining Committee

Development of an Invigilator Delegates’ Working Group in preparation of mobilization campaign activities during the Winter 2022 examination period

  1. Workday Issues

  2. Solidarity Motions of Support

  3. Working with TA delegates to host a series of Mobilization events in the month of March ‘Mobilization March’ to engage Union members within their Departments. Stay tuned for more!

More to come on Social Media, so please make sure to follow AGSEM on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to stay up to date on ongoing initiative announcements!

If you would like to join the Mobilization committee or for any Mobilization related questions, please contact the Mobilization Officer at mobilization@agsem-aeedem.ca

AGSEM Presentations and Guides

Did you know that we have a website dedicated to our guides, info-sheets, graphics, and more? We even have an AGSEM 101 Guide! Check it out here.

“Unions. What do they give us?”

Using archival material and interviews with renowned labor activists, sociologists and historians, the documentary "Les unions, qu'ossa donne?" revisits the major struggles led by the CTCC (CSN - Confédération des syndicats nationaux) from its founding in 1921 to the present day. You can now watch the 2021 documentary "Les unions, qu'ossa donne?" about the history of trade unionizing in Quebec here for free (French only).


If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please contact us at mail@agsem-aeedem.ca. In Solidarity, Your Executive, Bargaining, and Unionization Drive Committees