In December, the TA Bargaining Committee gave McGill time to return to the table with a counter-proposal that will satisfy the monetary demands of Teaching Assistants. Though our demands are moderate, they would nevertheless have a significant and tangible impact on our working conditions at McGill.
We waited months for an answer from McGill. In the meantime, with MCLIU, the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union, and FNEEQ, the Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec, AGSEM filmed a video that revealed McGill's attitude at the negotiation table.
Well, we've since received some answers.
- No to paid maternity, paternity, and parental leaves while the proposed Strategic Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Plan for McGill will have paid parental leave for non-unionized workers at McGill.
- No to a small healthcare indemnity while 36.1% of our members report foregoing health services for lack of money.
- No to a commitment to a minimum threshold of teaching support to prevent overwork while at least half of TAs work over their hours without pay.
- No to a wage increase that catches us up with peer institutions in Canada.
- Conditional yes for a clear distinction between wages and funding. Only in certain cases will TAs see their annual wage increases, but it remains up to departments whether or not they choose to respect our Collective Agreement since HR will not engage with McGill's academic context.
Add this to the response to our demands about harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence:
- No to clear, concrete language regarding sexual violence against TAs. McGill's line is that Course Supervisors do not have "academic authority" over TAs, and McGill will not accept language which “interprets” internal policies such as the Policy against Sexual Violence.
- No to clear, concrete language regarding respect for transgender and gender non-conforming TAs, including use of designated pronouns. McGill will only include "gender expression" as a component of harassment.
- No to a mechanism to facilitate accommodations for TAs in the workplace. The Office for Students with Disabilities will not consult with McGill HR about a student labourer's disability (although they will for unpaid internships), and it is unclear how HR Benefits will provide accommodations for our members.
On March 10, McGill has the opportunity to return to the table and negotiate with AGSEM for a fair contract. It remains to be seen if they will come prepared to settle on the issues, or if they will continue to stall. One thing is certain, the status quo is not good enough for graduate workers at McGill.