I wish to respond to some inaccuracies in the October 18 article by Michael Lee-Murphy, relating to the removal of AGSEM union posters.
First, course lecturers are currently paid $5,000 per contract, not $4,000, as stated in the article. The salary increases slated for January 1, 2011, and January 1, 2012, will bring course lecturers up to par with what other universities are offering for similar positions in the Montreal market, contrary to the statement that course lecturer salaries remain “far behind other universities in the province.”
Second, free expression has always been respected by this administration and will continue to be. The right to unionize clearly falls into that category, but according to the Quebec Labour Code, certain rules prevail. For example, unions are not allowed to solicit employees during hours of work. Furthermore, employers have the right to ensure total respect of their sites as private property. The University was, therefore, within its rights to make the decisions regarding the appropriateness of materials to be posted on its billboards. There are protocols for posting materials and AGSEM did not follow them.
Third, the Labour Code also places very significant restrictions on the free exchange of ideas regarding unionization, thus what might normally be viewed as a topic that should benefit from the free expression of ideas on campus is legally limited and constrains open and frank debate.
Finally, as for the reference to the slogan AGSEM used to tag its posters, it was and remains misleading, and that is what is truly “hurtful.” AGSEM is certified to represent teaching assistants, so it is not the “teachers’ union.” Any such representation as McGill’s teachers’ union on posters or any other promotional vehicle initiated by AGSEM is false.
Lynne B. Gervais
Associate Vice-Principal (Human Resources)