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Bargaining Newsletter #12: With a strike vote weeks away, TAs are still waiting for a serious offer from McGill

AGSEM makes a counter offer. What will McGill’s next offer be?

Tuesday February 20, 2024

AGSEM TA Bargaining Committee and regular members attending the negotiation session.

On Tuesday, February 20th, AGSEM and McGill met for another session to negotiate the new collective agreement for TAs at McGill. AGSEM’s Bargaining Committee (Nada El Baba, Dallas Jokic, and Nick Vieira) and TA Bargaining Advisor (Jean-Philip Mathieu) were joined by union advisor Sébastien Boisvert from affiliate Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ) of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN). They were also joined by a number of rank-and-file members from across the university, both in person and on Zoom.

At our previous session on Tuesday February 13th, AGSEM agreed to come to the next session with a counter-proposal. AGSEM had previously proposed to have a more “exploratory” session with McGill, but McGill insisted on a full counter-proposal on monetary items. The session on the 20th began with AGSEM sharing a global counter-proposal, which focused not just on the monetary issues that have been the focus of recent sessions, but also outstanding non-monetary items that the parties could not resolve in the Fall. This proposal required tough decision-making on what to drop from our mandate, while keeping focus on our members’ top priorities, such as healthcare, indexing TA hours to undergraduate enrolment, wages, and harassment and coercion in the workplace. AGSEM indicated flexibility on the details of these high-priority demands but made clear that McGill cannot expect us to drop them. TAs have made it clear, time and again—we cannot choose between living wages, healthcare, preventing TA hours from being cut, and having a workplace free of harassment.

McGill expressed disappointment that AGSEM had not dropped our non-wage monetary items, but recognized that our counter-proposal involved careful work to try and bring us closer together. While at the meeting on the 13th, McGill did indicate some willingness to address the problem of recent inflation, they made it clear that they had “no appetite” to negotiate on other aspects of AGSEM’s proposal. Moreover, on wages, the only monetary offer McGill has made involves a mere 1.25% raise in the first year, and 1% in subsequent years. McGill has indicated that they will come to our next session, on Monday, February 26th, with a counter-proposal. AGSEM hopes that McGill will come prepared with a proposal that makes significant gains in wages, an appetite for healthcare, and a willingness to discuss that slashing TA budgets is a problem for both the quality of education and for protecting TAs from overwork. We need to recover from and protect against inflation and catch up with TAs at other top schools who make upward of $45/hr to our $33.03/hr. We need healthcare to be reflected in their proposal. We need to protect TAs from overwork and defend the quality of education on which McGill, and TAs, pride themselves.

For the last two months, McGill has suggested that our proposal is unrealistic. But what is truly unrealistic is to expect TAs at one of Canada’s top schools to settle for a deal that ignores their needs on healthcare, wages, and indexation of TA hours to the essential work TAs actually do. We look forward to seeing what McGill’s proposal will look like, and with our mandated strike vote just a few weeks away, it’s far past time that McGill makes a serious counter-proposal. 

Our next session is scheduled for next Monday, Feb. 26th starting at 9:30am. Want to hear McGill’s next offer? Sign up to join us, in person or online, here

As we’ve said, we win what we are willing to fight for and it will take all hands on deck to win the life-changing contract we need and deserve. Interested in making sure we win? Sign up for training to become an AGSEM organizer/militant here

United we bargain, divided we beg! 

Love and solidarity, 

Your Bargaining and Bargaining Support Committees


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