New members to the AGSEM team - Congratulations to Radhika Chhibber and Antonia Macris
On January 25th, 2021, we held our Invigilator Assembly where Radhika Chhibber was elected as the new chair of the Invigilator Bargaining Committee. She will have both the challenge and the opportunity to coordinate the AGSEM Invigilator Bargaining Committee at the negotiating table to negotiate the next collective agreement for invigilators with McGill University.
On the same day, we also held our AGSEM General Assembly for the purpose of electing the new AGSEM Mobilization Officer of the AGSEM Executive Committee. Antonia Macris has been elected to this position.
Congratulations to both of you and welcome to the AGSEM team!
We continue to follow up with McGill Human Resources to try to resolve the ongoing issues with Workday around late pay, Zoom licenses, and more. The major issues with Workday facing McGill employees have been covered in the McGill Tribune, CTV News, The Montreal Gazette and again in the McGill Tribune for a second time —featuring interviews with AGSEM Executive Officers.
On 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.
Another open letter is in progress and will be circulated shortly.
The issues with payroll largely stem from the hiring process. This means that the employee groups who are the most affected with pay and hiring are “casual” employees who are hired each semester or each year, including: Teaching Assistants (AGSEM), Research Assistants (AMURE), Course Lecturers and Instructors (MCLIU), non-Academic Casuals (AMUSE), Floor Fellows (AMUSE), and non-unionized Academic Casuals such as graders, tutors, note-takers, and course instructors.
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 email@example.com 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.
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 receive backpay but you don’t receive an email from the union, or if you think there has been any other error, let firstname.lastname@example.org know right away.
If you have a Winter 2021 TA position, your payment should be at the current wage rate of $31.59 for all hours paid since the beginning of January. Members should check Workday to make sure that they are being paid at the correct wage rate, and reach out to the union if not.
Following unanticipated delays from both sides, negotiations for a new Invigilator Collective Agreement will begin after AGSEM and McGill exchange non-monetary proposals on Monday, March 15. Invigilators voted to approve a bargaining proposal that established the Invigilator Bargaining Committee’s mandate at the Unit Assembly on October 14 2020. At an assembly on January 25, Radhika Chhibber was elected Chair of the Invigilator Bargaining Committee.
Survey for Invigilators (2 x 25$ gift certificates to win as participation prize)
The Invigilator BC and Grievance Officer invite all invigilators to complete this short survey about in-person invigilation, 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.
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 beginning 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 email@example.com.
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 is already working to secure this compensation, but if you have any questions or concerns, do reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Last Month’s 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
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.
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!
The Mobilization is actively working on 4 current priorities and developing related Information Campaigns for the following initiatives:
Education on Retroactive Pay
Solidarity Motions of Support
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!
For any Mobilization related questions, please contact the Mobilization Officer at email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Executive, Bargaining, and Unionization Drive Committees