AGSEM Newsletter - June/July 2022

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Contents
  • Reminders

  • Union Committees and Delegates’ Council

  • Negotiations, Unionization Drive, and Labour Relations

  • In the News

  • In the Community

 
Reminders

Sign your AGSEM Membership Form!

We are happy to announce that Teaching Assistants and Invigilators can now fill out their AGSEM membership form online. You can sign your form here. Remember to submit a membership form for each semester that you work!

Right to Refuse Unsafe Work

As stated in article 15.02.05 of the TA Collective Agreement, and 16.06 of the Invigilator 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 their health, safety or physical wellbeing, or would expose another person to a similar danger. The Employee must abide by the work refusal process recognized by legislation.”

We can help you navigate the refusal process, or attain other accommodations. If you have concerns about work safety, please contact us directly at grievance.1@agsem-aeedem.ca (TAs), or grievance.2@agsem-aeedem.ca (Invigilators).

Under the law, the right to refuse unsafe work extends to all workers—including non-unionized academic support workers. If your work is not currently protected by a Collective Agreement, we can still help you advocate for your labour rights. Contact either Grievance Officer anytime!

 
Union Committees and Delegates’ Council

Update on Imposter Phenomenon talk

The Mental Health Working Group organized a talk on “Impostor phenomenon in graduate studies” by Prof. Devasmita Chakraverty on May 4th, 10:00 am EST. Dr. Chakraverty gave union members and participants an introduction to the Impostor phenomenon in relation to graduate students and TAs. For those unable to attend, here is the link to the talk.

Meet Your Delegate: Aiden Mehak

Aiden Mehak is AGSEM Delegate at the Psychology Department and a 4th-year PhD student in Clinical Psychology at McGill. Follow the link to read our Q&A with Aiden.

See previous interviews with AGSEM Delegates

AGSEM Climate Crisis Working Group

We are launching a new working group of AGSEM members interested in advocating for more climate awareness in our community. Contact us at communications.officer@agsem-aeedem.ca for more information.

Get Involved

Would you like to get involved in your union? Contact mobilization@agsem-aeedem.ca if you are interested in becoming an AGSEM delegate or a member of an existing committee or working group for the 2022-23 academic year. We are busy planning for the 2022-23 academic year. If you have ideas for events, projects, a new working group, or how we can better support you in your role as a worker we want to hear from you!



 
Negotiations, Unionization Drive, and Labour Relations

Invigilator Negotiations

As of May 1, 2022, the Quebec minimum wage increased to $14.25 per hour. This means the minimum wage has now surpassed the Invigilator wage of $13.88 per hour, which has been frozen since May 1, 2019. Your wage should be adjusted to the minimum automatically, but we suggest checking your pay stubs to ensure this change has been made. If you experience any issues with your pay, please email grievance.2@agsem-aeedem.ca as soon as you become aware of the problem.

Our low hourly wage is, of course, a significant issue that we must remedy in our next Invigilator Collective Agreement. In this time of unprecedented inflation and economic instability, it is essential that Invigilators have a wage that reflects the value of our labour. Unfortunately, our employer does not appear to share the same concerns.

We are deeply unsatisfied with the employer’s monetary offer. Their latest proposal does not provide a significant increase above minimum wage, or provide retroactive pay for the three years that our wage has been frozen. Their offer is also insufficient as it is conditional on us dropping major demands related to issues with workplace management. These are concerns that you raised to us about equitable workloads, transparent allocation of shifts, and the fair application of progressive discipline.

Given that the two parties are still far apart on key issues, the employer has requested a conciliator from the Tribunal administratif du travail (TAT). This means a neutral party will be assigned to our negotiations in order facilitate a resolution. Conciliation is a process that AGSEM also engaged in during its last round of negotiations for a new TA contract. There is currently no timeline for when conciliation will begin. With different summer vacation schedules, it is likely negotiations will begin again in earnest at the end of August or early September.

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. You will get to voice your opinion and vote on the new Collective Agreement. 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. A description of the Bargaining Committee’s mandate is available on the AGSEM website.

TA pre-bargaining update

The 2022-23 TA pre-bargaining committee commenced the work on TA pre-bargaining research in May. The committee is currently reviewing the 21 articles in our latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, and identifying areas for improvement. In addition, wage and non-wage components in the agreement are being compared & contrasted with those of other universities in Canada. The committee welcomes any suggestions and feedback for potential changes and additions to the TA collective bargaining agreement. Feel free to reach out to bargainingchairTA@agsem-aeedem.ca for suggestions and feedback.

Unionization Drive for Academic Support Workers

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 in February but was postponed until May 2022. It finally happened at the beginning of May, we will give you an update as soon as we hear from the TAT.

Please email us at udrive@agsem-aeedem.ca if you have any comments or questions.

Workday Compensation

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. Although we consider this grievance resolved, and the deadline for requesting compensation for this particular issue has passed, AGSEM remains concerned about the continued technical problems and the needlessly complicated and unintuative interface that leads to errors and wasted time.

Until all the issues in Workday are solved, AGSEM is demanding a task force be formed 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. AGSEM has also published an FAQ to help members with common issues surrounding the Workday system.

 
In the News

Bill 96

On May 24th, 2022 the National Assembly of Quebec adopted “Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec.” AGSEM recognizes Bill 96 may raise questions and concerns among those living in Quebec, including students, teachers, immigrants, indigenous communities, and others.

While the union respects the important heritage of the French language in Quebec, we believe the freedom of education, especially at the post-secondary level, should be a fundamental right irrespective of one’s family heritage. As a workers’ union, AGSEM is concerned the bill may affect working conditions for teaching staff across the province.

As the debate on Bill 96 polarizes Quebec society, a lot of misinformation has been spread in recent weeks and months. AGSEM encourages its members to educate themselves on the new bill. The original text of Bill 96 can be found here.

If you are a Teaching Assistant or an Invigilator and have questions or concerns about Bill 96 please contact us.

We also invite you to voice your opinion by attending the special FNEEQ-CSN Federal Council on September 8th, 2022 in Trois-Rivières. The council will discuss Bill 96 and vote on FNEEQ’s official recommendations on the language policy in the education sector in Quebec, including the issue of language of instruction.

All current AGSEM members are welcome to attend the congress, but early registration is required. The union plans to send a delegation of up to 10 members to the special council. If you are interested in being a delegate to this council, please email the AGSEM Communications Officer at communications.officer@agsem-aeedem.ca by July 31, 2022.

 
In the Community

Save the McGill Music Conservatory Rally

McGill has decided to shut down its music Conservatory program. The program, which has been running since 1904, for almost 118 years, and provides training to young students from all across the Greater Montreal area, is scheduled to no longer exist by the end of this summer.

In response to our members, parents and the community reaction, the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU) is organizing a Stand With Music Rally on Tuesday, June 28. We will be meeting in front of the Schulich School of Music building at 555 Sherbrooke St. West from noon till 1 pm EST in a show of solidarity for the Conservatory Program.

Spread the word and share this event with your colleagues, students and parents. Please invite all of them. We need to show McGill how much the Conservatory means to all of us and to the community. RSVP for a sandwich here.

McGill Communities Council

The McGill Communities Council (MCC), a committee of unions and associations representing thousands of employees (academic, managerial, unionized) and students (graduate and undergraduate) at McGill convened a hybrid Town Hall of all the memberships on April 26th, 2022 to discuss challenges faced and lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting focused on how the pandemic affected the McGill community, specifically union and association concerns, and the path forward as a university community. Here is the link to the MCC press release.


Representatives of the Unions and Associations of the McGill Communities Council at a picnic lunch outside Leacock on June 8, 2022.


Update on MUNACA strike

MUNACA, the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association, which represents more than 1800 non-academic support employees went on strike after failing to reach an agreement with the university in their recent collective bargaining negotiations. From April 20th to April 22nd, the union resorted to picket lines and posters outside Roddick Gates mobilizing support from McGill community members. MUNACA and McGill are currently in conciliation to try to find a resolution. AGSEM stands in solidarity with the recent MUNACA strike, and with their continued fight for fair compensation.

Show your support by following MUNACA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Final report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on COVID Academic Planning

AGSEM was recently informed that on May 11th, 2022, McGill Senate approved the recommendations presented in the Final Report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on COVID Academic Planning and Policies. According to those recommendations all courses in the fall semester will be delivered in person, except for those specifically designed and approved to be delivered online. We encourage all AGSEM members to contact us in case you have any questions, comments, or concerns related to McGill's planning for the teaching activities in the fall semester.

New McGill Policy on Assessment of Student Learning

The McGill Senate recently passed a new Policy on Assessment of Student Learning (PASL). The policy may have an impact on your work as a TA. During the process of the revision of this policy, we were consulted for feedback. We invite you to send us any comments that you have regarding this policy.

AGSEM at the Conseil Fédéral de FNEEQ, May 4-6, Sherbrooke

Between May 4-6, 2002, AGSEM EC members and delegates represented our union at the biannual FNEEQ council. La Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ) is AGSEM’s parent union who supports us politically and financially. They also foster the spirit of solidarity and mutual support between teachers’ and professors’ unions across the province of Quebec.

Among the topics discussed at the council were:

  • Post-covid reality at educational institutions and future standards for remote teaching

  • The urgency to act against the climate crisis

  • Academic freedom

  • The politics of language at CEGEPs and universities in Quebec

  • The reality of LGBTQ+ kids and teenagers in the Quebecois school system

The full list of adopted recommendations can be found here (French only)

We are also happy to announce that AGSEM President, Mario Roy, has been elected to join the FNEEQ Audit Committee. Congratulations, Mario!


AGSEM EC members and delegates, members of MCLIU (McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union), and the FNEEQ president, Caroline Quesnel


AGSEM at the 38th Congress of the CCMM-CSN, June 6-10, Montreal

From June 6-10, 2022, several AGSEM Executive Committee members represented our union as delegates to the 38th Congress of the CCMM-CSN. The theme of the congress, “Solidaires, à toute épreuve!” (“Solidarity, an unbreakable bond!”), encapsulated the spirit of the event, which included union representatives from Montreal, Laval, and Nunavik from all sectors of the workforce. Read more about the congress on our blog.


AGSEM delegates to the CCMM, members of MCLIU (McGill course lecturers) and SCCUQ (UQAM course lecturers) at the CCMM-CSN’s 38th Congress


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