On October 17, course lecturers and instructors, previously unionized as Unit 3 of AGSEM: McGill’s Teaching Union, voted to split from the union and form their own independent body during AGSEM’s Annual General Assembly (AGA). The new union will be known as McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU).
According to the MCLIU President Raad Jassim, the move was a unanimous one, with almost every member of the three units of AGSEM in attendance agreeing to the separation. According to MCLIU’s website, 95 per cent of those at the AGA voted in favour of the creation of a new union separate from AGSEM.
“There are time issues, functionality issues, and grievances issues that are a little bit different, so we thought being autonomous as a unit would strengthen our positions in front of the University, inter-union councils, and certain committees,” Jassim explained to The Daily.
“We are all still in the same classroom, there is no separation there, there is actually more unity there,” Jassim continued, “but we will not be looked at by McGill as one unit. We are three different units, three different functionalities.”
“Unit 3 as its own separate union is something we have been talking about at delegates council, and with executives for 1 and 2, for quite some time. I know Unit 3 have debated it in a previous [General Assembly] of just Unit 3 members,” said Sunci Avlijas, Vice President for AGSEM Unit 1 and 2. “We all have decided that Unit 3 has given interest in running their own affairs autonomously, and Unit 1 and 2 are okay with that.”
“Unit 3 has already been autonomous within AGSEM and they have always had their own executive committee,” Avlijas explained. She noted that this created a more bureaucratic structure for AGSEM, with executives meeting, then having a coordinating committee meet before being able to come to a decision for the entire Union.
“It was all getting a little bureaucratic, it necessitated having a lot of meetings,” Avlijas said. “As well as having an executive committee meeting [every two weeks], we would also have to have a coordinating committee meeting. It just created a lot of time drain for a lot of executives and actually cost [AGSEM] quite a bit of money.”
Course lecturers and instructors became unionized under AGSEM as Unit 3 in August 2011, and have been operating without a collective agreement since then. MCLIU is currently in negotiations with the University for their first collective agreement, and have now moved to conciliation.
“McGill has stopped giving us certain things, and we are not moving because we had a consensus from all our members, so we reached a point where a conciliator has been brought in,” said Jassim.
Major terms that MCLIU is pushing for, according to Jassim, include being able to teach a higher number of courses per year, a system to determine how courses are allocated, and how seniority is calculated.
“There are a lot of detailed issues that we have put forward and we still haven’t concluded the [agreement] – that is why we are seeking the advice of a conciliator,” explained Jassim.
The union, according to Jassim, is filing the request to separate with the Commission des relations du travail, and is awaiting the decision, which could take two weeks to two months to be made.
“At the end of the day, we have three collective agreements, so it was seen and [has] been approved by all the executive committee of the three units, by the bargaining committees of the three units and by the delegate councils of all the three units as ‘this is the best way to go forward, being stronger by each own looking after their own business,’” Jassim explained.