On Thursday 24 April 2008, McGill’s Administration distributed throughout the university community a letter issued by Deputy Provost, Morton J. Mendelson (student life and learning). Not only does Mr. Mendelson illegally interfere with the union’s business, but his letter also made the claim that the Commission des Relations du Travail du Québec (CRT) supported – in a decision made without the presence of the AGSEM’s legal representatives – the university’s interpretation of the application of Quebec labour laws in the context of the ongoing TA strike.
We would like to correct the Administration’s interpretation of these events, as follows:
- Contrary to what Mr. Mendelson claims, the injunction ordered by the CRT does not sustain McGill’s interpretation regarding anti-scab legislation. In no way does it allow instructors, teaching staff, or graders to perform the duties (including grading, entering final grades, etc) that would normally have been performed by a TA.
- In the injunction that the McGill Administration claims to be in force, the AGSEM holds that it did not recognize, nor would it ever recognize, the McGill Administration’s assertion that it can require other employees to perform the duties of TAs.
- We recognize the academic responsibilities of instructors, but we assert that this responsibility is limited during the ongoing strike, and in no way permits the Employer, according to Quebec labour laws, to require from its other employees to perform the duties of striking employees.
- In the context of the current labour conflict, it is illegal for McGill University to require instructors to perform duties (including grading papers, marking final exams, entering grades, etc.) that are beyond what they would normally perform, were there no strike.
- We demand that the McGill Administration ceases all pressure tactics against all members of the McGill community, including striking TAs who are employed in other jobs at the university, and employees who refuse to perform scab labour. Further, we demand that the Administration adopt an approach of actual openness at the negotiation table, in order to reach an agreement that will benefit students and employees alike.
- There has been no significant movement at the negotiation table towards improving transparency and contributing to clearly defined working conditions, in addition to a lack of recognition for the valuable work performed by TAs.
- We believe that in pointing to McGill’s $ 15M deficit, Morton Mendelson suggests that Teaching Assitants should bear the brunt of the University’s debt. Further, the AGSEM’s salary demands, if met in full, would account for less than 1% of the university’s total operating expenses.
- We invite the McGill community to visit the AGSEM website for further information regarding the AGSEM’s dedication to effective negotiations, and our commitment to resolving outstanding problems, for the improvement of working and teaching experience for all McGill students.
The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM)