McGill Strikers Are Told To “Grow Up and Take Responsibility”

McGill strikers write a letter the Provost (PDF file here) but things are not looking all that promising – from AGSEM website:

(May 12) In a shocking statement made at the Bargaining Table on Monday morning, the Administration’s bargaining team told TAs to “Grow Up and Take Responsibility.” In fact, we ARE taking responsibility: for our work and our duties, for our members, and for a democratic voice in the workplace. Now we know how the Administration really feels about Teaching Assistants, in particular, and graduate students, in general. This ageist remark is an affront to graduate students everywhere.

I am not sure what it means since there aren’t too many details about the actual meeting, but it sounds as if the administration bargaining team isn’t really taking this affair seriously, and why would they? it’s just a bunch of grad students, right? who takes them seriously? I don’t know if it’s really an “ageist” remark, but it certainly is an affront to “graduate students everywhere” – it seems to me that with all the attention to “corporate responsibility” and “business ethics” our universities (by “our” I mean North American) somehow are getting away without much scrutiny. Graduate students and junior faculty are dependent on the university’s “good will” and are thus very easy to exploit – isn’t it time for a new category of “educational harassment”?

More information from CTV (Montreal):

McGill, TAs nowhere near resolution

For students trying to graduate from McGill’s education department this could be a make or break week. Teaching assistants have been on strike for five weeks, which has resulted in the cancellation of many courses.
The university says it is strictly obeying the Quebec Labour Code, which prevents it from hiring striking teaching assistants to do other, non-union work, such as invigilating exams. “The labour code obliges us not to hire striking TAs in any employument in the university and unfortunately that’s one of the consequences of the strike,” said deputy provost Morton Mendelson. The TA union disagrees. “They’re acually taking a small section of the labour code that’s to prevent scabbing and to prevent undermining and strike breaking,” said Natalie Kouri-Towe. Even if the two sides can come to an agreement, there are more labour woes on the horizon for McGill. Support staff at the university is poised to stike in the fall. Watch the video.

More On McGill TA Strike and Related Issues.

Marc Bousquet reports on the on-going TA strike at McGill and anonymous commenters provide more information about the situation on the ground:

Some background: the Administration has been on a campaign for a few years now to fight student autonomy and representation on campus, from forcing referenda on the campus-and-comunity CKUT radio station, undergrad The Daily newspaper, to attempting to shut-down student-run food services, such as the Architecture Cafe (and attempting to centralise all food services under the international conglomerate, Chartwell’s), to disempowering the SSMU undergrad student union (for example, by charging students for access to campus for events), to ignoring the demands of the PGSS grad student union, to banning all rallies and protest on campus. The campus itself has become a security zone, with rent-a-cops on every corner, ready to quash everything from a stray protest sign (or even a bit of protest clothing, as I have discovered) to forcing cyclists to dismount while giving priority to car traffic (all this security is all under the Columbine pretense). Quite simply, McGill is on lockdown as a security state. […] Continue reading

McGill Strike Still Going On! (Update and Pictures)

Just thought I’d bring this to everyone’s attention once again.

Inspector finds violations in McGill strike

Profs take over assistants’ tasks. Dispute over who is considered ‘manager’


McGill University has already bent the law by having professors do the work of striking teaching assistants, says a Quebec Labour Department report that calls for a formal hearing to identify managers qualified to do struck work.

During a visit to a McGill chemistry lab last Thursday, Labour Department investigator Thomas Hayden said he found an assistant chemistry professor without managerial status who was overseeing the lab and openly said he was doing work ordinarily left to a teaching assistant. This, Hayden said, is a violation of the Labour Code.

But the inspector had more trouble determining the status of two other longtime faculty members in the lab who were filling in for the strikers. Both identified themselves as department heads and therefore management, yet one conceded he doesn’t actually have any staff, which put his managerial status in doubt. Read the rest.

This one is in French: Continue reading