Thanks to a last-ditch effort from a provincial conciliator, the union representing McGill University’s striking teaching assistants reached an agreement-in-principle with the university administration yesterday. The 2,000 members of the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) have been on strike since April 8 over issues relating to professional recognition, workload and wages.
The union was set to enter binding arbitration with the university when a Quebec labour ministry conciliator submitted a recommendation on outstanding issues in negotiations to renew a collective agreement that expired almost a year ago. The compromise includes salary increases of 12.5 per cent over four years and an agreement to work on reducing the number of students in discussion groups led by AGSEM members. The deal also includes crucial recognition of the actual work that teaching assistants perform on behalf of McGill’s undergraduate students.
The AGSEM Executive Committee will recommend that members approve the agreement-in-principle during a general assembly Thursday evening. Even if members approve the agreement, however, the union must still negotiate a back-to-work protocol to end the teaching assistants’ strike. Many were fired from unrelated on-campus jobs during the strike.