Hey hey, Invigilators and TAs!
Long time, no newsletter!
Are you excited for the start of school? We sure are! AGSEM’s committees have been hard at work over the summer preparing for what must be our union’s busiest semester yet. We’re thrilled to be able to share everything with you—from the rollout of our new logo (fancy!) and merch (swaggy!) to our ideas, research, and blueprint to win big in TA negotiations!
Don’t be a stranger! Over the next few days, AGSEM reps will be tabling at the Graduate Orientation Services Fair (Aug 24), PGSS Grad Orientation (Aug 24), QPIRG Rad Frosh (Aug 25), and Macdonald Campus Orientation (Aug 29). If you have departmental orientation or TA training, you’ll likely meet your departmental delegate or a member of our Executive or Bargaining committees.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please contact us anytime at email@example.com.
Your Executive, Bargaining, and Mobilization Committees
Sign your AGSEM Membership Form!
Teaching Assistants and Invigilators now fill out their AGSEM membership form online. Remember to sign a membership form each semester you work!
Events and Assemblies
Start-of-School Rally and Lunch!
TA Unit Assembly
Macdonald Campus Day!! <3
Accessible Summaries of Collective Agreements
TA Collective Agreement Expired = Negotiations!
TA Orientations and Training
Meet your Executive Committee!
Meet Your Chief Delegate!
In the Community
Concordia Student-Worker Feminist Convention
Free Menstrual Products at SSMU
Labour Day Manifestation
Bill 31: Lease transfers at risk!
1. Start-of-School Rally and Lunch!
First Day of School!! Let’s Work-to-Rule!! Come celebrate the start of what promises to be AGSEM’s biggest term in years: No More Free Hours, TA bargaining, and so much more.
On August 30 from 11am to 1pm at the corner of McTavish & Sherbrooke streets, we will collectively be saying enough is enough! Let us know you’ll be there: register. McGill has been stealing a million dollars in TA wages every year. Work-to-rule means we follow the rules, which means No More Free Hours. Learn more, yell about it, and meet people who will have your back this term and beyond. Lunch served to AGSEM members. Poutine! Veggie and non-veggie burgers!
If you work or have worked as a TA or Invigilator in the past 12 months and have signed your membership form, you are a member of AGSEM and can get lunch on us! Got some things to say to the employer? Want to say it loud and proud on a sign? Join us for sign-making and snacks the day before, Tuesday, August 29, 12pm at the AGSEM offices, 3641 University. Bring your own lunch—we’ll provide coffee and cookies!
2. TA Unit Assembly
The Bargaining and Bargaining Support Committees along with our Queer Working Group, International Students Working Group, and Equity and Diversity Committee have been researching, writing, and interpreting our union’s bargaining priorities established at the TA Assembly on April 27 (summary here).
We want to share our work with you and get the power of our TA assembly behind our Bargaining Committee as they head to the negotiation table with McGill this fall. <3
How do we navigate the complex power relationships between TAs and course supervisors in an academic context—especially in the context of harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence? How do we strengthen the tools in our contract to prevent TA overwork—one of the biggest workplace issues we experience as TAs? What do we want bargaining to look like to encourage the maximum participation of our democracy?
Join us September 12 at 5:30pm in Leacock 232 (downtown), at Mac campus (location still TBD), or online for some important conversations. RSVP.
As always, dinner will be provided for AGSEM members (PS sign your membership form!).
3. Macdonald Campus Day!! <3
Not to be outdone by the start-of-school rally, your Executive and Bargaining Committee are taking Mac Campus by storm on September 14. The downtown crew will be joining Mac Campus officer Aire McCall and departmental Mac Campus delegates. <3
We will be around for a whole day to chat with you about your TA experience, what the current bargaining period means to you as a worker, and answer any questions you might have. Join us all day, or drop by to say “hi”!
Lunch will be provided to everyone attending the Bargaining Info Session at noon. The number of spots and meals is limited. If you want to attend the lunchtime event, please make sure to RSVP.
12:00 - 1:30pm, Faculty Lounge, MS2-022
TA Bargaining Info Session and Workshop! Lunch will be provided!
2:00 - 4:00 pm, Faculty Lounge lobby
Grab some AGSEM swag, including your AGSEM t-shirt! Chat with AGSEM organizers at our table over coffee and a snack.
5:00pm onwards, drinks at a local bar, location TBD
Join us for a solidarity drink at a local bar in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue!
AGSEM and CREW at Pride on August 13!
1. Accessible Summaries of Collective Agreements
Are you struggling to make sense of your TA or Invigilator collective agreements? There are now accessible summaries of both Invigilator and TA contracts on our website! (English only for now)
If you ever have any questions about your contract or working conditions as a TA, Invigilator, or non-unionized academic support worker like grader, note-taker, course assistant, or TEAM TA email JP at firstname.lastname@example.org (TAs and other teaching support) or Teresa at email@example.com (Invigilators).
2. TA Collective Agreement Expired = Negotiations!
Speaking of Collective Agreements, our TA contract quietly expired on July 31, 2023 (RIP).
What does this mean? In practical terms, not much has changed! In fact, all of our rights are “frozen” in place until we negotiate and sign a new contract. This includes our wage. Any retroactive raises must be negotiated as part of the new agreement. If won, retro raises will be paid as a lump sum after the new agreement is signed.
The expiration of our TA collective agreement means we can begin negotiations with McGill for a new one. The Executive and Bargaining Committees have indicated their willingness to begin negotiations on the first day of school.
It appears as though McGill’s negotiation team has not finished their preparations. They have loosely suggested they want to start negotiations mid-September, but a first negotiation session to exchange proposals has not been established.
But are we just sitting around and waiting for them? No! Join the rally on August 30, attend the TA Assembly on September 12, and the Mac Campus Day on September 14 to learn about the issues and get actively involved with the bargaining process. What we win in our next contract is always up to all of us and the power we build as a collective!
3. TA Orientations and Training
It’s late August and that means…new TA Orientations and training! AGSEM representatives and delegates will be attending the departmental orientations we hear about.
It’s also a good time for some important reminders about your rights when it comes to training:
By law and our Collective Agreement, all mandatory training for your TA position (training required by your supervisor) must be paid. This means time spent on mandatory training should be included on your Workload Form.
Anti-sexual violence training: All employees of McGill must complete the employee version of “It Takes All of Us” anti-sexual violence training every three years (on MyCourses). Your time spent on this training must also be paid at the highest hourly rate of any of the positions you currently hold on campus. This means, for example, if you are both a TA and invigilator, you must be paid at the TA rate for this training. Practically, this means one hour of training for this program should be included on your Workload Form in the semester you work for the first time.
First-time TA Orientations: Departments provide orientation through activities like departmental meetings. The Union shall have the right to attend these meetings and ensure that all employees are well-informed and supported. Any time spent in these orientation or training meetings must be included on your Workload Form.
SKILLSETS TA Training: Every September, the University provides additional voluntary pedagogical training to TAs. The first 3 hours of training are paid at the regular hourly rate for first time TAs upon completion (this is on top of your TA contract, so take advantage of this if you are a first-time TA!). Returning TAs can attend these sessions, but will not receive compensation. Register in advance for sessions through the SKILLSETS website.
Cancellation/ No-show policies: TAs registered for training will be charged a cancellation fee if they are absent or cancel participation within forty-eight (48) hours of the scheduled training. Cancellation fees will be in accordance with McGill Teaching and Learning Services policy.
Meet Your Executive Committee!
On April 17, 2023, AGSEM General Assembly elected the new Executive Committee for the 2023-2024 academic year. Read about the current EC team here.
Meet Kiersten van Vliet, your Mobilization Officer! Kiersten (she/they) is a PhD candidate in Musicology and Gender & Women’s studies in the Music Research Department of the Schulich School of Music and has been a member of the union since 2015.
We sat down with Kiersten to chat about her background in the union and their hopes for the new TA Collective Agreement.
“So much of my work has been the slow, steady process of building our institution back to something that others wanted to be involved in. It’s hard to describe all the steps that have gotten us to the present moment—it’s been a lot of little things over the years with many different collaborators that have added up to something pretty great. And now newer organizers with the union are expanding my own horizons of what I thought would be possible. It’s really beautiful to see.”
Are you interested in becoming a delegate for your department? Curious about projects our union is working on? Do you want to learn more about our union? Do you just want to chat about your working conditions or your ideas about organized labour? Email Kiersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Your Chief Delegate!
“I am not only interested in winning a higher wage for workers at McGill. I am interested in building relationships and skills for everyone involved in the union that can transfer outside of the McGill context. Relationships and skills that can build a strong union culture on and beyond the island; a culture that prioritizes people's lives and well-being even when doing the work, that can be a source of genuine joy and aliveness in any context, union or not, for the rest of our lives.”
Read our Q&A with Emma McKay (they/them), a third-year PhD student in DISE (Department of Integrated Studies in Education) at McGill. They have been AGSEM Chief Delegate Mobilization since April 2022.
Want to get to know other AGSEM organizers? Read all our Q&As here.
In the Community
1. Concordia Student-Worker Feminist Convention
The Feminist Workplace Committee of CREW–CSN (Concordia Research and Education Workers Union), invites you to the annual Concordia Student Workers / Étudiant‧e‧s Travailleur‧euse‧s Feminist Convention taking place on the downtown Concordia campus in so-called Montreal, from 9:00am – 5:00pm on Friday, August 25th.
The Feminist Workplace Committee of CREW–CSN has gathered members of local education unions, as well as students, staff, and members of the Montreal university community for a one-day convention to build feminist workplaces and union structures, and to advance the fight against sexism and abuses of power in the university system.
This convention is free to attend and will be in-person, with coffee and snacks provided. Register with the google form in advance to secure your spot.
2. Free Menstrual Products at SSMU
The SSMU Menstrual Health Project, founded in 2017, supplies students and community members with menstrual hygiene products on campus, free of charge. Learn more on their website!
3. Labour Day Manifestation
The AGSEM Mobilization Committee is coordinating McGill workers and grads to participate in the Manifestation syndicale pour la Fête du travail 2023 (Inter-union Manifestation for Labour Day 2023) on September 4 at 1:30pm. With wage stagnation and rising inflation at a time of record corporate profits, it is more important than ever to have a strong labour movement in Quebec. Come join us on September 4 outside the Roddick Gates to march in the manif!
4. Bill 31: Lease transfers at risk!
The CAQ provincial government recently tabled Bill 31, An Act to amend various legislative provisions relating to housing. If Bill 31 passes, it would allow landlords to reject any requests for a lease transfer without reason and cancel the lease. This change would place even more power in the hands of landlords to raise the price of rent for new renters. Lease transfers are one of the few ways tenants can assure the affordability of their rent.
We are experiencing a major housing affordability crisis, and with Bill 31 the CAQ is only throwing fuel on the fire. Listed rents in Montreal increased by 6.8% for a 1-bedroom apartment and 8.1% for a 2-bedroom, according to the June 2023 rentals.ca rent report. This far outstrips wage increases in the educational sector, or increases in graduate stipends—which have stagnated at the federal level as well as in many departments at McGill. Graduate students are a population that move apartments and cities frequently, and rent is becoming an unmanageable expense for many of us.
What can we do? Join AGSEM to march in the Touche pas à ma cession de bail! (Hands Off My Lease Transfer!) manifestation on September 16 at 1pm, organized by the Regroupement provincial de défense des droits des locataires (RCLALQ). Meet us outside Métro Préfontaine!