AGSEMMcGill University’s 2,000 unionized teaching assistants are on strike are on strike since April 8th after McGill’s administration failed to negotiate a new collective agreement in two final bargaining sessions Saturday and Monday. Members of the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) have worked with an expired collective agreement since last summer. AGSEM has been trying to negotiate with McGill since last October but the administration has systematically stalled talks or simply refused to discuss most of AGSEM’s priority contract demands.

To reach the AGSEM website, click on the picture.

AGSEM primary responsibility is to represent the interests of 2000 Teachers Assistants at Mcgill University. This means, among other things, ensuring that TAs are paid for every hour that they work; that they receive their pay in full and on time; that they are provided with adequate office space and other resources; and that they are given the opportunity to work for the full duration of their priority pool entitlement (currently four years in the case of PhD students, two years for MAs). It also means supporting teaching as a scholarly activity, one that remains the lifeblood – and critical revenue source – of this university. AGSEM_BUILDING

However, by definition all of AGSEM’s members are also McGill graduate students, and as such we have a responsibility to address issues that are of broader concern to graduate-level scholars. Chief among these is funding, which in many of McGill’s departments, particularly those housed in the Faculty of Arts, is far from adequate. In some cases, teaching assistantships are the only consistent source of internal funding available to graduate students, a state of affairs that is clearly untenable. Further, poor TA working conditions (e.g. excessive teaching loads, unpaid work hours, lack of training and/or supervision) can negatively impact TAs’ own studies, and necessarily conflict with the increasing pressure faced by graduate students to achieve “timely completion” of their degrees. In this sense, the interests of TAs are no different than the interests of all graduate students, and AGSEM is committed to acting in support of both.

AGSEM on strikeThe Agsem building on Peel Street