News  Course lecturers’ union walks out of meeting with administration

AGSEM protests cuts in positions

Correction appended Jan 21, 2013.

Union members walked out of a meeting with senior administrators and other campus unions in protest of planned cuts to course lecturer positions.

The administration had called the meeting to discuss the provincial’s government’s announcement of budget cuts for universities.

Representatives from campus unions such as the McGill University Association of Support Employees (AMUSE), non-academic workers at McGill (MUNACA), as well as Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa were in attendance. The meeting, held in Sherbrooke 688, was a follow-up to another gathering held in December to which campus union presidents were invited.

Di Grappa began by speaking about a meeting between the principals of Quebec universities and the provincial government last week.
According to Di Grappa, the University received the news that the cuts are continuing. The cuts to the operating budget will come to around $20 million for the fiscal year of 2014, which begins on May 1, 2013.

Course Lecturer Unit Chair Raad Jassim responded to Di Grappa’s statement by calling for a bottom-up approach to complying with the mandated provincial budget cuts.

“You’re inviting us to a consultation, but actually we have noticed that course lecturers’ jobs are being cut as we speak, they have been announced in a few areas,” Jassim said at the meeting.

Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi announced that 100 small classes will be eliminated, allowing full-time facutly members to teach classes currently taught by course lecturers.

“We are feeling that this is not a consultation, this is a consultation on the surface… I’m protesting this action, and will ask all my team to stand up and come with me,” he said before leaving the room.

Following Jassim’s statement, seven AGSEM members – representing each of the union’s units – and AGSEM President Lilian Radovac walked out of the meeting.

AGSEM is composed of three different units representing course lecturers, teaching assistants, and invigilators.

AGSEM Communications Officer Stefana Lamasanu told The Daily that they were “pleased with the way they walked in and rejected the cuts.”

“We also made them know that if they are serious about it, they can contact us. But we are not going to pretend to negotiate, we are not going to pretend to engage in confronting when this just a re-packaged control measure,” said Lamasanu.

“We’re not going to sit by and allow this excuse to undermine what we’re bargaining for our members, job security, and course allocations. These things can be affected by the budget cuts, if we let it happen, so we’re not going to sit by idly,” she added.

According to Lamasanu the negotiations for a collective agreement between course lecturers and the University will continue as previously planned.

Di Grappa told The Daily in an email that he thought it was “a productive meeting.”

“I was able to exchange with those present some fairly recent information we’ve received from the government about its firm intention to seek more budget compressions from universities in the future,” he said.

In order to deal effectively with these circumstances, we need to work co-operatively. We agreed to meet again, either at the end of February or during the second week of March.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Raad Jassim as AGSEM Course Lecturer Unit President. In fact, he is the Course Lecturer Unit Chair.