News  Course lecturers approve initial demands

Union to sit down with administration this winter

McGill’s newly unionized course lecturers have approved a preliminary list of demands for their first collective bargaining session with the administration.

The demands were approved at a December 6 unit assembly, but have not been formally presented to the administration.

Course lecturers are paid to teach courses on a contract basis, and currently earn $7,200 a course.

AGSEM, the union which also represents teaching assistants and invigilators, was accredited to represent course lecturers in August, following a nearly 18 month long unionization effort. During the union drive, McGill announced a $2,200 per course raise, which the union claimed as a victory.

During the union drive, Provost Anthony Masi ordered building directors on campus to tear down posters encouraging course lecturers to join the union. The administration said the use of posters by the union violated Quebec labour laws.

Despite the raise, the union says that McGill’s course lecturers are among the lowest paid in Quebec.

The union is demanding what it describes as equity with other Quebec universities, which would mean a pension and retirement plan, wage increases, and paid sick leave.

The union is also seeking to implement a seniority-based hiring system.

Rick Hink, the chair of the course lecturers’ bargaining committee, estimates that there are between 1,300 and 1,500 course lecturers, though the numbers are constantly in flux.

Hink explained that some course lecturers are graduate students who teach to pay the bills, while others have been teaching full time for as long as 25 years.

According to Hink, course lecturers have no protections and can be fired at any time, owing to the course-by-course nature of their contracts.

In addition to salary and benefit demands, the union is also demanding protections for courses that are traditionally taught by course lecturers, as in much of the School of Continuing Studies.

“We don’t want to see a situation where all of a sudden you can throw hundreds and hundreds of people out of their jobs,” Hink said.

Describing the findings of the union’s bargaining survery, Hink said that some course lecturers have no experience, while others have forty years on the job.

“To talk to some of these people who have been unceremoniously dumped at the end of 25 years of service? It’s inconceivable,” he said.

The union is hoping to sit down at the bargaining table by the end of February, when they will formally present their demands to the administration.

Masi wrote in an email to The Daily that, “the University is committed to doing everything within its power to minimize the probability of another strike occurring during this academic year or in the foreseeable future for that matter.”

AGSEM’s course lecturers are one of three bargaining units currently negotiating a contract with McGill, including invigilators and support workers organized under AMUSE – the labour union for casual employees at McGill.

Concordia’s course lecturers are paid $7,770 dollars per course, while course lecturers at l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscaminque earn $8,748.99 per course.