Teaching Assistants at McGill last night approved a contract including a new guarantee for three hours of paid pedagogical training for first-time TAs, wage increases of 3%, 3%, and 1.2% over three years, guarantees for sufficient meeting time between TAs and course supervisors, and a written and formal commitment from McGill to make every effort to improve teaching support for undergraduate courses by such means as utilizing Teaching Assistants.
Teaching Assistants at McGill are represented by AGSEM – McGill’s Teaching Union, the largest union on campus with 3000 members. AGSEM’s TA bargaining committee has been meeting with the employer since May 2011, two months before the current Collective Agreement expired. Bargaining Committee Chairperson Renaud Roussel explained, “he main goal of the bargaining committee was to secure the best possible agreement. Not only have we preserved all our rights as employees and union members, we have also strengthened numerous aspects of our contract and obtained a new clause on pedagogical training that is among the very best in Canadian universities.”
The Union had the strong support of its membership throughout each stage of the bargaining process: in April 2011, members approved the principles on which AGSEM’s proposal was based, and in October 2011, they responded with resounding support to the Union’s call for a pressure tactics mandate in response to a stalemate at the bargaining table.
The Union understands that improving working conditions is an ongoing process that does not end at the bargaining table; it was with this understanding that AGSEM’s executive committee recommended that members accept the proposal from our employer. Other major gains include but are not limited to a consultation process between the Union and the university’s management regarding appointments of less than forty-five hours, protections against unexpected work demands outside the academic semester, and protections against clawback of other sources of funding for graduate students who take a job as a teaching assistant.
AGSEM President Lerona Lewis says that”we know that McGill has financial resources to pay its employees fairly, although they would like us to believe otherwise. The question is whether this administration is willing to treat all employees fairly when allocating this money. We will continue to stand in solidarity with MUNACA and join our forces in their campaign to secure a fair contract for their workers
Members of the Bargaining committee were Renaud Roussel, Jonathan Mooney, and Annick Lavogiez. The spokesperson was Molly Alexander of the Fédération des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec – Confédération des syndicats nationaux (FNEEQ-CSN).
FNEEQ is the most representative organization of higher education in Quebec. It represents 10,000 lecturers.
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