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AGSEM Newsletter - March 2023

Updated: Jun 13, 2023



Contents
 
Meetings and Events

General Assembly, Tuesday, March 28

On Tuesday, March 28 from 5:30-7:30pm, we have the first of two Spring General Assemblies.


On the agenda, we have a motion in solidarity with the Concordia Research and Education Workers (CREW) Union in their effort to end their relationship with their parent union PSAC and affiliate with the CSN. The main item is our financial report from last year and our budget for the next year. Committees will also be presenting their annual reports.


You are also invited to submit any topic of discussion or motion you wish by emailing Mario at president@agsem-aeedem.ca.


Registration to the assembly is necessary to be able to vote, whether you attend in person or online. Please RSVP, no matter if you plan on attending online or in person. Indicate on the form if you plan to attend in person or online, and whether you have any dietary restrictions. Dinner will be served!


Since this assembly will be quite short, we will be making signs together afterwards for our April 13th TA and grad student worker rally! Stick around to make a sign with us—we will have a fun playlist, crafting materials, and snacks!



End-of-Year TA Rally!

Let’s end the school year on a high note together! On April 13 at noon, we will rally together outside of the James Administration Building in support of a higher TA wage and graduate funding packages, benefits, and better working conditions. Lunch will be served! Let us know if we can expect you by filling out the RSVP.



AGSEM Elections, April 17, 5:30pm

At our April 17 General Assembly, we will be holding elections for committee positions. You are also invited to submit any topic of discussion or motion you wish by emailing Mario at president@agsem-aeedem.ca.


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 (3), External Affairs Committee (open), Mobilization Committee (open), and the Mutual Aid Fund Committee (2). Positions will be held from May 1, 2023 to April 30, 2024 and compensated at the TA rate.


Official descriptions of the positions are available here.


To nominate yourself for a position: 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 Tuesday, April 12th 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.



TA Assembly, April 27

At this very important TA assembly on April 27 at 5:30pm, we will vote on the priorities for the next round of negotiations for a new Collective Agreement. All current TAs, or anyone who has worked as a TA in the past 12 months is a member of AGSEM and encouraged to attend. As always, dinner will be served. Please RSVP!

 
Job Offer

The AGSEM Executive Committee is looking to hire a part-time archivist / history researcher this summer. This archivist would help put together a project to celebrate our union’s 30th anniversary!


The position is for up to 60 hours at the TA rate ($33/hour) between May 1 - August 31, 2023, although the exact start date and end date are negotiable. See the full job posting for how to apply!

 
Meet Your Delegate

“I think it is crucial that we do not allow TA-ships to be included in student funding packages. Students should not need to work as TAs in order to receive their full funding. We are fortunate that this is not the case in physics, but in other departments students (barely) make enough to survive if, and only if, they TA. For these students, add tuition costs and the situation becomes untenable.”


Read our Q&A with Nicholas Vieira, an AGSEM Physics TA Delegate and a PhD student in Astrophysics at McGill


Want to get to know other AGSEM delegates? Read more Q&As here.


Are you interested in becoming a delegate for your department? Curious about projects your union is working on? Do you want to learn more about your union? Do you just want to chat about your working conditions or your ideas about organized labour? Email Kiersten at mobilization@agsem-aeedem.ca if you are interested in becoming an AGSEM delegate or a member of an existing committee or working group. 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!

 
In the Community

Concordia’s TAs and RAs mobilize to form a new union

At Concordia, there is currently a dynamic worker-led campaign to form a new union, the Concordia Research and Education Workers (CREW) Union. TAs and RAs at Concordia want to end their relationship with their parent union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and affiliate with the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN). To do this, CREW Union has to get the majority of 3000 student workers to support the new union.

Why are they doing that?

As a parent union, the PSAC has determined monetary demands and arrived at agreements with the employer behind workers’ backs. Outside of negotiations, PSAC fails to represent workers’ rights and resolve grievances in a timely manner. The Alliance also stifles direct action and activism among Concordia’s student workers, while offering no alternatives to win better working conditions. In short, PSAC has prioritized maintaining a good relationship with the employer over the real concerns student workers face.

Our union, AGSEM, has been affiliated with the CSN throughout our 30-year history. In this time we have been able to negotiate the highest TA wages in Quebec, as well as establish seniority, mandatory paid training, safety standards, the right to refuse unsafe work, and a negotiated workload form. Our contract is far from perfect, but in many ways it is the best in the province.

All TAs in Quebec deserve a higher wage, better working conditions, and a strong and democratic union, but PSAC has been holding us all back.

Earlier this month, the AGSEM Executive Committee signed a letter in solidarity with CREW. Many members of our union have been working with CREW militants over the past few weeks to get cards signed.

What can you do?

  • Come to our General Assembly on Tuesday, March 28 from 5:30-7:30pm to discuss and vote on a motion in solidarity with CREW

  • If you have friends at Concordia who work as TAs or RAs, tell them about the campaign! CREW has until April 3 to get 50%+1 of TAs and RAs to sign a card!

  • If you are an alumnus or alumna of Concordia and have worked as a TA or RA at Concordia in the past 12 months, you still count in the eyes of the Quebec government towards the total card amount. In that case, sign a card yourself!


CREW militants at the CSN offices

 
Important Reminders

Remember to Sign Your AGSEM Membership Form!

Please note, you must fill out your AGSEM membership form to participate in an assembly. You can sign your form online here. Remember to sign and submit a membership form for each semester that you work! If you work as a Teaching Assistant and an Invigilator you should submit two membership forms, one for each respective position.


Keep Track of Your Hours!

It is important to keep track of your hours as much as possible. Overwork is one of the most frequent complaints among TAs, with over 48% of TAs working over their contracted hours. You are under no obligation to work over your hours, and you should not be pressured to do so.


Here are a few tips and reminders about your rights to help you manage your workload this semester:

  • We have prepared this document with resources to help you keep track of your hours, including a link to a spreadsheet and time-tracking applications.

  • It is your job to inform your Course Supervisor if you are at risk of working over your hours. We know from experience that these conversations can be difficult. If you want support in a meeting you can request your departmental Delegate or an AGSEM Officer to attend with you, or you can copy your delegate or the TA Grievance Officer on emails to your supervisor.

  • Fill out your Workload Form! We know it can be a bureaucratic pain in the behind to fill out, but this is one of the measures we negotiated with McGill to ensure a mutual agreement with your Course Supervisor on the distribution of hours in your contract.

  • You have the right to review previous Workload Forms for your course upon request. This can help you determine how the hours in your contract should be allocated.

  • Okay, so you filled out your Workload Form and maybe reviewed forms from past semesters—now what? Well, there should also be a midterm review of this Workload Form. This is the time that you can adjust your hours, as necessary. Does marking take longer than originally budgeted? Did enrollment change? You may have to reduce your workload later in the semester to stay within your hours. Alternatively, your Supervisor may need to request additional hours from the department.

  • We only have one necessary review of the Workload Form, but here’s a tip: you can review your Workload Form with your Supervisor as many times as you need during the semester until it accurately reflects your workload.

  • Your department granted you more hours—that’s great! Make sure this increase is reflected in your pay stubs. Contact us as soon as you notice any issues with late or missing pay.

  • What if you are offered more hours for your position, but you are too busy to work any more than the amount in your original contract? That’s okay! You are under no obligation to work any additional hours that are granted by the department! You are within your rights to say you will work your contracted hours, and no more.

  • What if the department is offering you additional hours but at a rate below the TA wage? This is not okay! Additional hours granted for a course with TAs must be offered at the TA rate, which is $33.03/hour. If your department is outsourcing TA work to graders or undergraduate TEAM TAs, let us know!

  • If you work less hours in your contract, you don’t have to pay back the difference! As it says in Article 11.03 of our Collective Agreement “The University shall not require an Employee to reimburse or to carry forward to another term any hours not worked in the appointment.” This includes short-term leaves of absence like missing a conference or lab—you do not need to pay for your replacement out of your pocket! Either your workload is adjusted with another TA (maybe you pick up their section or some of their grading to make up the difference), or your department has to come up with the additional hours to pay your replacement.

  • Questions? Concerns? For advice or information about your rights as a TA, email us anytime at grievance.1@agsem-aeedem.ca. All inquiries are kept strictly confidential and you will never be pressured to pursue a grievance if you decide not to.


If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please contact us at mail@agsem-aeedem.ca.




Your Executive, Bargaining, and Unionization Drive Committees

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