Bargaining

AGSEM has two Bargaining Units, Unit 1 for Teaching Assistants and Unit 2 for Invigilators. Each Bargaining Unit has a Collective Agreement (CA) that is a binding contract negotiated by representatives of AGSEM and representatives of McGill’s Board of Governors. ​

 

The Unit 1 or Teaching Assistant Collective Agreement is in effect until July 31, 2023. One year before the expiry of this agreement, the Unit 1 Assembly will elect a pre-Bargaining Committee to prepare for the next round of negotiations.


The Unit 2 or Invigilator CA expired on April 30, 2020. In April 2019, an Invigilator pre-Bargaining Committee was elected and prepared a bargaining proposal that was ratified on October 14, 2020. The AGSEM Invigilator Bargaining Committee entered into negotiations with McGill for a new invigilator Collective Agreement in March 2021.

Our Invigilator Bargaining Committee

Negotiation 2021:
Our demands

Bargaining Process & Issues

Latest Invigilator Bargaining News

Comments, Questions & Concerns

 

Invigilator Bargaining Committee

Gokcan Sahin

Bargaining Committee

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Kiersten van Vliet

Bargaining Committee

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Invigilator Bargaining Priorities

Invigilator Negotiations 2021: Our Demands

The Invigilator Bargaining Committee has been in negotiations with McGill for a new Collective Agreement since March 2021. Their bargaining mandate—the set of priorities that they will negotiate towards—was unanimously approved at a Unit 2 Assembly on October 14, 2020.

 

The Unit 2 or Invigilator Collective Agreement expired April 30, 2020. The working conditions established in that document will remain in effect during negotiations until the new Collective Agreement is signed. Any benefits or conditions applied retroactively, including retroactive pay, must also be negotiated.

 

As soon as there are any major developments during the negotiation process—that is, an agreement in principle reached between the two parties, or an impasse in the negotiations—the AGSEM Executive Committee will call a Unit 2 Assembly. The decision whether or not to accept an Employer’s final offer and adopt that text as the new Invigilator Collective Agreement is subject to a democratic vote at a Unit Assembly.

 

Throughout the negotiation process, the Invigilator Bargaining Committee will provide regular updates in the AGSEM monthly newsletter, on the AGSEM website (see Invigilator news here), at Delegates’ Council meetings (which can be attended by any AGSEM member), as well as General and Unit Assemblies. The Committee will also consult with Invigilators and Invigilator Delegates throughout the negotiations to ensure that the bargaining mandate is being met.

 

In December 2019 and January 2020, the Invigilator pre-Bargaining Committee ran a comprehensive survey to gauge the working conditions of Invigilators across the Hiring Units at McGill. The results of this survey informed the bargaining priorities that became AGSEM’s major demands for this round of negotiations.

 

Consistent in all aspects of Invigilator working conditions are concerns about fairness in the application of the Collective Agreement. The major issues that Invigilators identified are:

  • Wages & Indemnities

    • The hourly wage is low compared to the minimum wage of Quebec, as well as Invigilators at other universities in Montreal

  • Breaks

    • Invigilators are often unable to take their 15-minute paid break per 4 hours of consecutive work. This is related to several factors:

      • The ratio of Circulators or Floats to Invigilators is too low so Invigilators cannot have their tasks covered for a break

      • Workers are not managed well enough to be able to take their break

  • Safety and Sanitation

    • Invigilators have identified concerns with the Employer’s ability to maintain sanitary conditions where they monitor exams, especially high-traffic areas like washroom facilities

    • Invigilators were collectively dismissed at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. They are looking forward to increased in-person work opportunities, but emphasize that worker safety must be prioritized and Personal Protective Equipment provided by the Employer.

  • Training

    • Increased training about the job, occupational health and safety, as well as strategies for helping students in distress

    • Ensuring that the mandatory training occurs before each semester worked

    • Ensuring that Invigilators are always compensated for mandatory training, as stipulated in the law

  • Probation Period & Disciplinary Measures

    • The probationary period is currently used punitively by Hiring Units to exclude experienced Invigilators from being rehired on frivolous grounds

    • Hiring Units are not presently encouraged to use Progressive Discipline. This must be defined and the parameters for discipline clearly established so the Collective Agreement can be enforced equitably and in a transparent manner

  • Shift Assignments & Distribution of Work

    • Invigilators are hired to work in a Hiring Unit, but may never be assigned to work a shift. The Union has proposed a minimum shift assignment to address this issue and ensure that everyone who is hired to work has a minimum number of shifts assigned to them.

    • Invigilators are not assigned tasks fairly, or the responsibilities assigned during work are not equitable. For this, a system of equal opportunity, ratio of invigilators to circulators/floats, and the clear definition of tasks are proposed.

  • Employment File

    • Ensuring confidentiality of the Employment File at all times

 

Subsequently, the major demands of the Union seek to address the above issues. Beyond what has been identified as an issue with the working conditions of Invigilators, the membership has identified the following priorities: 

  • Inclusive Language

    • Ensure the Collective Agreement uses inclusive, gender-neutral language

  • Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Violence

    • Ensure the Collective Agreement incorporates the McGill’s new Policy Against Sexual Violence and Policy Against Harassment and Discrimination, including a statement of principle about systemic discrimination

  • Labour Relations

    • Ensuring that the Union and Hiring Units meet regularly to discuss issues related to Invigilators

    • Establish a safety committee to discuss issues of mutual interest and importance as it relates to health and safety

  • Hiring

    • A centralized hiring website with a consistent application form and transparent application process

    • An online Union membership form

    • Increased Union oversight over hiring

FAQ

How does Bargaining work?

Each Bargaining Unit (that is, Teaching Assistants or Invigilators) has a Collective Agreement (CA) that is a binding contract negotiated by representatives of the union and representatives of McGill’s Board of Governors. The length of the CA is negotiated in this process.

One year before the expiration of the CA, the members of the bargaining unit elect a Bargaining Committee (BC) at their biannual General Assembly. This is also commonly referred to as a Pre-bargaining Committee, since we do not typically engage in negotiations until the CA expires. This BC is responsible for collecting data, conducting outreach, and identifying key areas of the CA to be re-negotiated. The BC will present a bargaining proposal to the General Assembly for their bargaining unit in the term preceding the expiration of the CA. If this proposal is adopted, the BC will prepare the proposal to be presented to McGill’s negotiators one month before the expiration of the CA. The members of the BC serve until the conclusion of the bargaining process, which means until a new CA is signed, but the members of the Bargaining Committee can step down or be removed from office by a member vote at any time and any member of the union can run for election to replace them.

 
How are bargaining decisions made?
What if I disagree with the actions or issues of the bargaining committee?

The Bargaining Committee will present a proposal to the General Assembly (GA) and members will have a chance to amend any portion of it by proposing an amendment and participating in a vote by simple majority. Throughout the bargaining process, the committee will continue to collect feedback from members. If McGill accepts the union’s terms, the bargaining committee will bring an agreement in principle to the General Assembly for ratification. If McGill does not accept the union’s terms, the bargaining committee will continue to negotiate until they feel that an impasse has been reached. It will then be up to the General Assembly to decide to amend to the bargaining objectives or to continue pursuing them, possibly through a strike. All decisions are subject to the highest authority in the union, which is the popular vote of the members.

 

If you disagree with any of the means or objectives, you always have the option to present a motion at a GA, become a departmental Delegate and address the Executive at the Delegate Council, join a Committee, move to remove members of the Executive Committee or Bargaining Committee from office, or run for any of these positions yourself. Between General Assemblies and Delegate Council meetings, you always have the option to approach the bargaining committee directly with any concerns you have.

When does a strike vote occur?

The Executive Committee or the Bargaining Committee never makes a unilateral decision to strike. A strike can only occur through a majority vote by members of the bargaining unit at a General Assembly. Any member can bring a motion to strike to the GA, but the Executive Committee may bring this motion itself when the bargaining process has stalled. A strike vote can be brought before a General Assembly when the University is habitually violated terms of the Collective Agreement or when the union is in a bargaining period and the University will not come to an agreement that suits the members. A strike is not automatic if McGill does not agree to the union’s terms. Members will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not to change the union’s demands; whether to accept McGill’s offer; and whether or not to reject McGill’s offer but continue bargaining without a strike.

Do we want to go on strike?

Strikes are risky business. They require strong mobilization among members, active participation in picketing and visibility on campus, and support from other constituencies at the university, like professors and undergraduates. A strike is always a last resort and the Bargaining Committee does not formulate bargaining strategies anticipating a strike. It is the last thing that the union wants. In some cases, the union may present a strike vote or even recommend to members that they vote to strike if there is no perceived way forward in the bargaining process. Rejecting an offer from McGill without a strike or other significant action from the union weakens our bargaining position. But members have the final say when it comes to all details of a strike.

What happens if we go on strike? Do I get paid if we are on strike? Do I have to strike?

If a strike vote passes, members will then decide how long to strike - a day? A week? Indefinitely? All members of bargaining unit that votes to go on strike cannot go to work or perform other duties related to their work, such as grading or corresponding with students. This does not apply to other jobs that members hold on campus, whether unionized or not. The Executive Committee will inform members of their rights regarding strike pay. Our affiliates CSN and FNEEQ contribute to AGSEM’s strike fund. This means that members can continue to collect a wage at the designated pay rate in their Collective Agreement for participating in strike activities like picketing. The Bargaining Committee will then negotiate for back-pay for striking workers when bargaining resumes, although this is not a guaranteed provision.

How does striking affect my other jobs on campus?

You should not use an RA position to complete work that falls under TA duties if AGSEM is on strike.

I am not a teaching assistant but I would like to be. Does bargaining affect me?

Yes! If can affect you in several ways. If you find it difficult to get a TA position because you do not have high priority, then any bargaining relating to changes in the priority pool may make jobs more accessible to you. If you have not applied for a TAship for other reasons but plan to in the future, then bargaining will determine the conditions under which you will work in the coming semesters. AGSEM’s primary duty is to the members of the union, but as an academic workforce, we are invested in the quality of education and experiences for all graduate and undergraduate students. Your opinion still matters and you should not hesitate to share it with us!

 

Latest Invigilator Bargaining News

Contact the Invigilator Bargaining Committee

If you have any comments, suggestions, or concerns about any part of the Invigilator Bargaining process, feel free to contact the Invigilator Bargaining Chair in the form below.

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