AGSEM Newsletter - March 2021


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AGSEM General Assembly - April 13, 2021, 5:30pm

Our General Assembly will be held on Tuesday, April 13, 5:30pm EST, online.

The AGSEM General Assembly is the highest decision-making body of our Union. You are a union member if you have either worked as a TA within the last 12 months, as an Invigilator since April 30, 2019 to present, or have signed a union card as an academic support worker as part of the AGSEM Unionization Drive.

Registration is necessary to attend the meeting and the meeting information and agenda will be sent to those who register in advance. Registration will be open until Monday, April 12th at 5:30PM, 24hrs in advance of the meeting. We will follow up with registrants for whom we do not have a signed AGSEM membership form.

Please find the working agenda here that includes the following:

- Union reports

- Annual reports

- Annual budget

- Constitutional amendments

- Executive Committee elections

- Other Committee elections

You are also invited to submit any topic of discussion or motion to adopt that you wish, simply by emailing the chair at president@agsem-aeedem.ca, up to 24 hours before the start of the meeting.

Union Elections

AGSEM members in good standing can run for any role: President, Secretary-Treasurer, Grievance Officer (2), Mobilization Officer, External Communication Officer, Macdonald Campus Officer, Equity Committee (5), Audit Committee (2), External Affairs Committee (open), Mobilization Committee (open), and the Mutual Aid Fund Committee (2). Positions will be held from May 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022. For all committees with more than two members, at least one member of the Committee (including the Executive Committee and Bargaining Committee) must be a woman and at least one member of each Committee (including the Executive Committee and Bargaining Committee) must be fluently bilingual in French and English. For the EC, this may be the President. Nominees for the position of President shall be bilingual (English/French).

Nomination forms must be signed by the nominee and 5 AGSEM members in good standing. Filled out nomination forms, including self-nominations, for any of the EC or committee positions can be sent to president@agsem-aeedem.ca. A person 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 GA.

The nomination period for all positions will last until Friday, April 9th at 5:30pm, two (2) working days before the General Assembly. Nominations will also be accepted from the floor at the General Assembly, but only for positions that have one or no nominees.

The official descriptions of the positions are available here.

Retroactive Wage Increases for TAs


Now that our new Collective Agreement (CA) is in effect, McGill will start issuing retroactive wage increases for two lapsed raises since Winter, 2019. Refer to AGSEM’s blog post for details on the wage rates and what you need to know in order to ensure that you receive any backpay owed to you.


McGill has provided the union with a list of members who are currently set to receive retroactive raises. AGSEM has emailed each individual on this list, and the EC is in the process of analyzing our hiring data to determine if anyone has been left off. We need members’ help to catch any errors as soon as possible. Check your email (including your spam folder) to see if you have been contacted by the union and verify that the amount indicated is correct. If you think you should have received backpay or you didn’t receive an email from the union, or if you think there has been any other error, let grievance.1@agsem-aeedem.ca know right away.


If you have a Winter 2021 TA position, your payment should be at the current wage rate of $31.59 for all hours paid since the beginning of January. Members should check Workday to make sure that they are being paid at the correct wage rate, and reach out to the union if not.


Invigilators


Negotiation Update: March

AGSEM and McGill exchanged non-monetary proposals on March 15, 2021. This involved each side reading and explaining their proposed changes to the Invigilator Collective Agreement. Invigilators voted to approve a bargaining proposal that established the Invigilator Bargaining Committee’s mandate at the Unit Assembly on October 14, 2020.


Both parties were scheduled again on March 30 to establish the order of articles to be negotiated, but this meeting has been postponed by the employer until April 15. The negotiation schedule for the next three months has been established. In accordance with provincial health guidelines, all negotiation sessions will be held virtually over a secure platform until further notice. We will continue to update you with significant developments as the negotiations progress.


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.


Apply for Invigilation

Similar to the previous term, Fall 2020, small number jobs are available for invigilation in Winter 2021 as well, but expected to increase with new plans towards resumption of in-person exams. We will be sharing the new developments.

The undergraduate medical education (UGME) will be posting for invigilator positions for April exams here. Keep an eye out for upcoming invigilator postings on workday.


Cancelled Shifts

All invigilators who were scheduled to work shifts that were cancelled and attended the training session are entitled to compensation under the Collective Agreement. Our Invigilator Grievance Officer has already secured this compensation and will be getting in touch with the concerned invigilators soon. If you have any questions or concerns about this, do reach out at grievance.2@agsem-aeedem.ca.


Survey for Invigilators (WIN 2 x 25$ gift certificates as participation prize)

The Invigilator BC and Grievance Officer invite all invigilators to complete this short survey about in-person invigilation held in the past year, regardless of whether or not you worked. Topics include reasons for applying or not applying, job availability, shift assignment and cancellation, training, and health and safety.


Workday Update


**The most recent major update about Workday can be found here, and we have a new website about Workday concerns here.**


We continue to follow up with McGill Human Resources to try to resolve the ongoing issues with Workday around late pay and more. In Mid-December, before the holiday, we sent another press release that have been covered on several platform: Workday Means More Work (and No Pay) for TAs at McGill which have been covered on Cision, Business insider or Ground news. Then, on March 2nd 2021, we sent an open letter to Principal Fortier requesting for changes.


The issues with payroll largely stem from the hiring process. We know that AGSEM members may have spent a long time working on solutions to Workday-related issues on their own. Please keep in mind that payroll and employee management is an employer’s responsibility, and that if you are spending time trying to sort Workday issues, this should be reflected in your Workload form.


Our Response: Grievances and Labour Relations

AGSEM has filed several collective grievances against McGill for the violation of your labour rights, including late pay and mailed cheques. Considering the little process, we recently filed for arbitration on those grievances for late pay. We have followed up recently with more information for everyone who has been named on a grievance, if information was available. We are additionally following up with HR in our Labour Relations Committee about all issues that are negatively impacting AGSEM members, and continuing to fight for a fair settlement for everyone affected.

AGSEM's claim includes financial compensation for members. For those whose pay was late, a $50 flat fee per payroll period and interest of 1.24% charged monthly on the entirety of each unpaid TA’s contract until the pay is issued. For those paid by cheque, an additional $50 flat fee. The standard AGSEM used for this claim is the late fees and interest that McGill charges its own students on overdue balances for fees and tuition. There is legal precedent for interest paid to employees, and the fee is a fair claim for the unpaid hours members have sunk into efforts to resolve this ongoing issue. So, once members receive the wages that are due to them, the union will focus on securing this compensation for everyone who was paid late, and/or by cheque.


According to the TA Collective Agreement, our members must be paid within 30 days of starting work. We have requested a list of members who were issued a cheque (violation of our Collective Agreement) and a list of members who did not get paid yet (also a violation of our Collective Agreement). AGSEM is therefore requesting an audit from McGill to make sure that all employees have received their total pay since the Workday system has been implemented at McGill which McGill refuses to do. 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 the McGill’s R2R team who work on system upgrades. We need to solve all the issues, minor and major, in a systematic way: small fixes are not sustainable.


If you’re facing Workday issues, please email grievance.1@agsem-aeedem.ca right away!


New TA collective Agreement!


At mid-December, the new TA Collective Agreement was signed and came into effect and remains until July 2023. We have prepared a PDF summary of the major changes here, and will have a website, info sessions, and more about the new Collective Agreement.


Recent Solidarity Initiatives


On February 1st, 2021, AGSEM’s Executive Council approved two solidarity initiative motions:


Decent Work and Health Network: Paid Sick Days

The Decent Work and Health Network, an Ontario-based initiative, is working to raise awareness of the limitations of the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program, and is advocating for the legislation of seven (7) permanent, paid sick days for all workers and an additional fourteen (14) days during public health outbreaks for Canadian workers. Additionally, Fight for $15 and Fairness will be hosting an organizing session on March 23rd, and April 20th at 7pm to discuss further efforts to advance issues around paid sick days and workplace safety in the Ontario context. AGSEM invites its members to sign a petition to be sent to the Prime Minister and the Premier in the signer’s province or territory in support of the initiative. In addition, AGSEM EC encourages its Ontario-based members to contract their MPPs to demand paid sick days using the script available on the Fight for $15 and Fairness website.


United Graduate Workers of UNM

The United Graduate Workers of UNM is a recently formed graduate workers’ union and member of UE, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America with nearly 1,000 members, is committed to improving working conditions for all graduate workers at the University of New Mexico, and has reached out to the CGEU for support and connections. The University of New Mexico has filed a motion seeking to strip its graduate employees of our right to unionize under state law, reneging on its prior public commitment to respect the rights of graduate workers to organize, after a strong majority of graduate employees signed union cards and petitioned the State Labor Board for union recognition on December 9, 2020. In response, the United Graduate Workers of UNM has created a petition calling on UNM to recognize the rights of graduate workers to organize unions and collectively improve their working conditions. The AGSEM EC has added its signature to the petition and invites its members to do the same.


FNEEQ COVID Survey

This survey aims to obtain a portrait of what your members have been going through since the start of the pandemic. Survey results will help the FNEEQ understand your various realities and working conditions for the past year. The responses will be used to take full account of the situation and support union demands, particularly with regard to teaching resources, or make the necessary representations to the Ministries of Education and Higher Education. The survey contains 25 questions with an area for comments and should take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. This survey is completely confidential.


Previous Solidarity Initiatives


Additionally, as mentioned in the previous newsletter, during the December 14th, 2020 AGSEM Executive’ meeting the EC approved two motions to support local initiatives: the motion for AGSEM to join the Coalition Main Rouge and the motion to support the text ‘Déclaration de la Convergence pour la sortie de crise’. In addition, the AGSEM Executive Council has recently supported a petition in support of academic freedom for Boğaziçi University students and faculty. AGSEM invites all members to sign the petitions below.


Coalition Main Rouge

Coalition Main Rouge is advocating for a fair social and fiscal justice system in Quebec and invites people to sign a petition for a fair social and fiscal political stand from the Quebec government. FNEEQ-CSN joined the movement and invite affiliates to join the campaign: Pour nous protéger contre les crises: Renforcer le filet social! AGSEM invites its members to sign the petition in solidarity with this movement.


Déclaration de la Convergence pour la sortie de crise

CSM-CSN invite its members and organization to sign the letter « Justice sociale, justice écologique : même combat ». The letter is available in English and French.


Solidarity with Boğaziçi University Students and Faculty

The AGSEM Executive Council has recently signed a petition in support of academic freedom for Boğaziçi University students and faculty as a response to the police attacks and detention of participants in peaceful protests against the AKP's attempt to assert political control over Boğaziçi University in İstanbul. AGSEM invites its members to sign the petition in solidarity with this cause.


Mobilization Update


Workday

The Mobilization Officer recently held a weeklong focus on social media about Workday. Missed it? All the images are available here, along with our older campaigns!


Mobilization Committee

The Mobilization is actively working on 4 current priorities and developing related Information Campaigns for the following initiatives:

  1. Workday Issues

  2. Education on Retroactive Pay

  3. Solidarity Motions of Support

  4. Progress of the Invigilator Bargaining Committee

More to come on Social Media, so please make sure to follow all our AGSEM accounts to stay up to date on ongoing initiative announcements!


Follow us on: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!


For any Mobilization related questions, please contact the Mobilization Officer at mobilization@agsem-aeedem.ca


AGSEM Graphics

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



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


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, and due to the pandemic, we are not currently in-office. Send an email, and we will get back to you with an online meeting time and date!

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