In March: the TA Bargaining Committee has signed agreements in principle with McGill for Articles 11-13 of the Collective Agreement. These articles cover things like the application procedure, TA workload, and the priority pool. We reached agreements with the university regarding important protections for TAs, including:
Stronger, clearer terms for the priority pool;
A straightforward process to resolve the problem of working beyond your paid hours, and for requesting additional hours;
More criteria for extending your time in the priority pool (did you know you can already get an extension for maternity, parental, and medical leave and for field work?);
Protections for TAs who resign from their position because they experience harassment or discrimination;
Better union oversight to prevent unfair hiring
Up next: AGSEM is negotiating the Workload Form and the Application Form. We have demanded reasonable changes which will ensure that the application process is not subverted, that favouritism and unfair exclusion of applicants are avoided, and that the Workload Form enables a fair and honest negotiation of your TA workload. Our mandates are to:
Prevent Hiring Units from asking for authorisation from an applicant's academic supervisor, or any other means which unfairly pressure TA applicants or deny their right to priority;
Ensure that TA applicants will not be considered for positions which pose a burden to them (due to scheduling, conflict of interest, disability, qualifications, or risk of harassment), to ensure that this option may be exercised with equity and confidentiality, and to ensure that those applicants will still be given fair consideration to the positions they can work;
Make the Workload Form a stronger tool for negotiating workload when it comes to those tasks which are known to cause overwork - this means more time allotted for consultation with students (i.e. "office hours"), attending lectures (don't do it for free!), and deciding methods of grading and the deadline to return grading.
The big picture: the final topic of negotiation will be monetary issues. TAs have told McGill that we need:
Partial benefits for maternity, paternity, and healthcare
A wage that not only keeps up with inflation, but keeps up with McGill's competitors
Most importantly, a minimum floor of TA hours to ensure that we can complete our work and complete our graduate education!
If you would like to know more about the progress of bargaining or give your feedback to the bargaining committee (especially regarding the issues we are currently negotiating), don't hesitate to reach out the BC Chair, Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org.