Some great union news from here (and a tip of the hat to Unionist, who posted this on babble).
McGill's administration is notoriously anti-union. And as of now, support staff there are out on picket lines...
The English text of the communiqué (French version follows, I didn't copy it here but you will find the entire communiqué in the URL) :
McGill Course Lecturers Win Union
Montréal – 31 August 2011 – After a long ground campaign, course lecturers at McGill University will return to campus next week for a new semester—and a new union. The Labour Relations Commission yesterday certified the existing union for teaching assistants and exam invigilators, AGSEM, to represent all course lecturers and other part-time instructors in a new bargaining unit.
“This is a huge victory for the part-time teaching staff and has been a long time in the making,” said Lerona Lewis, president of AGSEM. “This will undoubtedly change the way this university works.”
Course lecturers at McGill remain the worst paid and least protected in the province, even after substantial pay hikes aimed at dissuading potential union members during the campaign.
“In an environment where universities try to avoid collegial governance, the creation of this union is a step forward,” said Jean Trudelle, president of the Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN). “Course lecturers at McGill should have the same working conditions as their colleagues in other Québec universities.” The new union at McGill will benefit from the expertise and solidarity of other FNEEQ-CSN unions which, by coordinating their negotiations, have promoted better conditions on the job and recognition of the important contribution of lecturers to the university.
The university and the union now have 90 days to begin negotiating a collective agreement for approximately 1,300 course lecturers. The university’s 1,500 teaching assistants are already in negotiations with the university to replace the contract that expired on June 30th. Exam invigilators remain in negotiations for their first contract after being certified last year.
AGSEM was the first teaching assistants’ union in Québec, established in 1993. It now represents approximately 3,000 employees and is the only union that represents teaching faculty at McGill University. AGSEM is affiliated with the Fédération des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ), the Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain (CCMM) and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).
FNEEQ represents a majority of lecturers (chargés de cours) in Québec universities, the tutors of Télé-université and teaching coordinators at l’École de technologie supérieure. The federation brings together 30,000 members in universities, cégeps and private schools and is the most representative higher education labour organization in Québec.
And some history: A letter from Jack Layton in support of the course lecturers (teaching assistants') union organisation drive, back in 2008: http://uniondrive.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/LaytonLetter2008.pdf
This is a historic step, but the struggle continues to negotiate and sign a first contract.