AGSEM Newsletter - February 2022

Updated: May 27

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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 Teaching Assistants' Assembly on March 29, 2022 for Pre-Bargaining Committee Elections. Nomination Period now Open. The next Teaching Assistants' (Unit 1) Assembly will be held on March 29, 2022 at 5:30 pm, for the purpose of holding elections for a new TA Pre-Bargaining Committee. This committee will be primarily responsible to prepare the union's proposal for negotiating the next TA Collective Agreement, as the current TA Collective Agreement will expire on 31 July 2023. If you currently work or have worked as a TA at any point in the past year, you are entitled to attend, speak, and vote at this assembly. Since this is an online assembly, it is required that you register in advance. If you wish to attend, we recommend you RSVP as soon as possible. You are also invited to submit any topic of discussion or motion to adopt that you wishby email to the chair at president@agsem-aeedem.ca, up to 24 hours before the start of the meeting. Registration is necessary to attend the meeting, and the meeting information and agenda will be sent to those who register in advance. Please note that registration will be open until March 27, 2022 at 5:30PM, 24hrs before the meeting. We will follow up with registrants for whom we do not have a signed AGSEM membership form. Nomination Period Now Open The nomination period is now open until March 27 2022, 5:30 PM EST, 2 days before the assembly. There are three open positions for the TA pre-Bargaining Committee:

  • 1 chair

  • 2 members

Each position is remunerated for 90 hours per semester at the new TA rate ($32.38/hr).Official descriptions of the positions are available here. Nomination forms must be signed by the nominee and five (5) Unit 1 members in good standing. Unit 1 members in good standing require that you have worked as aTA in the past year and have signed and submitted an AGSEM membership form. Filled-out nomination forms, including self-nominations, must be sent to president@agsem-aeedem.ca before March 27 2022, 5:30 PM EST. A Unit 1 member in good standing may be nominated for only one position during the nomination period. Members can also run in absentia provided they submit a Nomination Form prior to the Assembly.Nominations will also be accepted from the floor at the meeting where the election is to be held, but only for positions that have one or no nominations. Just started your first job as a Teaching Assistant? Make sure you know your rights! Find out more about the TA Collective Agreement in FAQ form and our tips for improving your TA experience here. Did you miss the first-time TA training session from your department? You can view the orientation presentation here. 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 Negotiation Update: The Invigilator Bargaining Committee and McGill have had two negotiation sessions since the start of 2022. In both meetings, Article 15, the Probationary Period, was negotiated. Finding a fair solution to reduce the length of time invigilators spend in the Probationary Period is a high-priority item for the union in this round of Collective Bargaining. Currently, invigilators pass their probationary period upon being appointed to their third consecutive academic term in a given Hiring Unit. Once an invigilator passes their probation, their hiring priority increases, and they have their full rights under the Collective Agreement to file a grievance in case they are subject to disciplinary measures they wish to contest. We found common ground with McGill for basing probation on the principle of hours worked rather than three consecutive appointments. Establishing a system of hours worked would ensure that passing probation is linked to satisfactory job performance rather than hiring. Currently, it is possible to work actively as an invigilator throughout an exam period and have the same level of probation as an invigilator who is appointed to work, but who never picks up a shift if both workers are hired at the same time. Both the Employer and AGSEM appear to be in agreement that it is more advantageous and equitable for both parties to base probationary status on hours worked rather than consecutive appointments in a given Hiring Unit. The Invigilator Bargaining Committee will receive McGill’s counter-proposal on Article 15 on Monday, February 28. Should we be able to reach an agreement on this article in the coming weeks, the committee will provide an update on the exact details for probation in next month’s newsletter. Once Article 15 is settled, we will begin negotiations on Article 11: Organization of Work. The Invigilator Bargaining Committee and the Employer have met seventeen times since the start of negotiations in March 2021. We have reached agreements in principle on Articles 1-4, 6, 8-10, 16, 17, aside from a few discussions that have been suspended until monetary negotiations (at the end of negotiations). 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. 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. 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! Workday 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. The university has until 10 March to provide the union with a list of TAs who were affected by this issue, after which AGSEM will review the list before the final version is sent back to the university to process the compensation. If your pay was delayed and you have not yet contacted the union, please do so immediately so we can ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to (grievance.1@agsem-aeedem.ca). You can also submit a claim directly to the University until April 28, 2022 at hr.hr@mcgill.ca. Compensation will be paid via direct deposit for active employees. For those that are no longer employees, they must send an email to hr.hr@mcgill.ca that includes their current bank information. If no banking information is sent, a cheque will then be issued by the University. 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. 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, we received another response from McGill on which we made some progress but still do not agree with the response. A hearing at the TAT was supposed to take place last month to make progress but was postponed until May 2022. Please email us at udrive@agsem-aeedem.ca if you have any comments or questions. Recent Solidarity Initiatives As a courtesy, we are sharing QPIRG McGill’s call for volunteers: “QPIRG (The Quebec Public Interest Research Group at McGill) is running a referendum campaign for the upcoming PGSS referendum, and we're looking for current PGSS members to join our Yes Committee! From March 7-21, QPIRG will be running a referendum campaign to renew our opt-outable fee levy of $5 per term for non-thesis graduate students, and $2.50 per term for thesis graduate students. QPIRG relies heavily on the student fee levy to support its programming, and we depend on support from students to continue conducting research, education, and action on environmental and social justice issues at McGill University and in the Montreal community. As a student-centered organization, QPIRG offers a lot to campus life! Our highly-attended programming series, such as Rad Frosh, Culture Shock, and Social Justice Days introduce students to pressing social justice issues and encourage community engagement. Through the Community University Research Exchange (CURE), QPIRG connects students with community organizations to conduct applied student research projects that meet the direct needs of the community and will be put into concrete action. Email us at info@qpirgmcgill.org if you're interested!” Previous Solidarity Initiatives

  • AGSEM stands in solidarity with the UCU (University and College Union) in their fight for better working conditions for academic workers across the United Kingdom.

As of Dec 1, 2021, as many as 58 universities were preparing to go on strike in December after university representatives refused to withdraw pension cuts or address decreased pay and worsening working conditions. Click here to read more.

  • Please sign the petition to support action against the REM de l’Est project in Montreal

Concerned about the negative effects for the neighborhoods crossed by the aboveground REM de l'Est train line, the Collectif en environnement Mercier-Est is calling the government to "immediately suspend all work on the REM de l'Est, including its design,” "mandate the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) to conduct an analysis of public transit needs in the east of Montreal,” and "hold a public consultation with citizens on the conclusions of this analysis and the examination of possible alternatives for implementing a mode of public transit adapted to a densely populated urban environment."(translation source) Working Group Update On November 9th, 2021, the AGSEM Graduate Funding Working Group organized a talk by Mr. Bipin Kumar from the University of New Brunswick Graduate Student Association. He presented on 'Comprehensive Comparison on Graduate Funding patterns in Canada - 2020-21'. Bipin, who is an active advocate for fair graduate student and labor policies, informed union members about current graduate funding patterns and issues across Canadian Universities. 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. Mobilization Update 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

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

  3. Workday Issues

  4. Solidarity Motions of Support

  5. 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). Mental Health Working Group The Mental Health Working Group invites members to attend workshops organized by Skillsets on the topic ‘From Surviving to Thriving: Resilience in Grad School’. The workshops are offered twice per semester in collaboration with the Local Wellness Advisor for graduate students. The workshop is tailored to support graduate student resilience and create a community of peer support. 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