Welcome to another final exam session at McGill! This newsletter contains an introduction to the union, as well as important information about your rights as an invigilator—especially in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We also have exciting news about our raise from negotiations, which will go into effect on December 11!
AGSEM is advocating for a safe and sanitary working environment for invigilators during the Fall 2022 final exam period. We asked the employer a number of questions to learn about the health and safety standards the University put in place. You can find information AGSEM received from McGill on our website at www.agsem.ca/pandemic-invigilation.
If you are employed as an invigilator and your working conditions are unsafe, unsanitary, or do not comply with COVID-19 regulations, please take a photo of the situation (if possible) and contact our Grievance Officer Teresa at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not take photos of any confidential material or other people without their consent.
For any other issues or questions that come up, feel free to email Teresa any time.
The AGSEM Executive Committee
What is AGSEM?
The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) / L’Association des Étudiant-e-s Diplômé-e-s Employé-e-s de McGill (AÉEDEM) is the labour union that represents nearly 3000 Teaching Assistants and Invigilators at McGill. When you sign your membership form and start working as an invigilator, you become a full member of AGSEM.
All invigilators at McGill are protected by AGSEM’s Invigilator Collective Agreement—even if you only invigilate one exam!
AGSEM has two Bargaining Units, Unit 1 for Teaching Assistants and Unit 2 for Invigilators.
Look out for our tables!
During the final exam period, you can come talk to us at the AGSEM table! During several shifts this exam period, we will have free snacks, AGSEM brochures, and pins.
Where can you find the AGSEM table?
Gym/Fieldhouse (outside of the split between the Gym and the Fieldhouse on the second floor of the Currie Gym)
Bronfman Building Foyer - December 14th only
Law Building (4th floor, next to NCDH 433) - December 8th only
Additionally, there will be a limited supply of N95 masks (generously offered by PGSS) available at the AGSEM table. The masks will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis.
For additional mask needs, we recommend you use the pay-what-you-can PGSS N95 Mask Program if you are a graduate student. If you are not a graduate student and would like access to this program, please contact us at email@example.com.
Please note that N95 masks are reusable.
Get Involved and Get Paid for your Involvement!
We are always looking to get union members who are interested in advocating for better student labour rights involved in the union’s committees and councils.
Invigilator Delegates serve on the AGSEM Delegates’ Council, which meets around once a month during the academic year (and once during the summer) to discuss labour-related issues in their Hiring Unit. AGSEM is looking for more Invigilator Delegates from all departments conducting invigilation. Delegates who complete their duties (ie. attend the requisite number of meetings) are eligible to earn honoraria for attending meetings, training, and organising events.
AGSEM also has a number of committees and working groups, including the Mobilization Committee, the Mental Health Working Group, and Climate Crisis Working Group.
All union work is paid.
If you are interested in getting involved as an Invigilator Delegate or in a committee position, or if you simply have general inquiries about the union, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or see our website at www.agsem.ca.
The Invigilator Collective Agreement
A Collective Agreement (CA) is a binding contract negotiated by representatives of AGSEM and representatives of McGill’s Board of Governors.
The Invigilator Collective Agreement expired on April 30, 2020. The AGSEM Invigilator Bargaining Committee entered into negotiations with McGill for a new invigilator Collective Agreement in March 2021.
After a year and a half of negotiations, Invigilators approved the tentative agreement reached between the Bargaining Committee and McGill University at our November 17, 2022 assembly!
The new hourly rate of pay of $15.75 plus 6% vacation ($16.70) will be effective on December 11, 2022. The raise will come in the form of a retroactive payment, and will be implemented on the first pay date following thirty (30) working days of the signature of the Collective Agreement. Retroactive payments for all hours paid between December 11, 2022 and the implementation date of the new hourly rate of pay, will be processed within ninety (90) working days of the signing of the Collective Agreement.
AGSEM reached this agreement about wages with McGill after our Nov. 17 assembly. Our bargaining team advocated for our raise to come into effect as soon as possible.
We are still waiting for McGill to translate the agreement to French before we are able to sign our new Collective Agreement. Once we sign, all other provisions go into effect. We anticipate this will happen in early 2023.
For everything other than the wage, the working conditions established in our previous Collective Agreement are still in effect until the new Collective Agreement is signed.
To avoid confusion during this examination period, we will provide you with a comprehensive summary of your rights under the new Collective Agreement when they come into effect. But none of this document is a secret! If you have any questions about this new agreement in the meantime, please feel free to contact Kiersten at email@example.com.
Know Your Rights: COVID-19
The Employer is responsible for informing you of all COVID-19 safety protocols that you must respect during the course of your employment as an Invigilator. AGSEM asked the employer a number of questions to learn about the health and safety standards the University put in place. You can find information AGSEM received from McGill on our website at www.agsem.ca/pandemic-invigilation. Please note the important information about your labour rights in the context of COVID-19:
It is the Employer’s responsibility to provide you with all resources and materials you need to work as an Invigilator.
The Employer cannot ask you about your vaccination status, and this private medical information cannot be used to make hiring decisions. Quebec no longer requires a vaccination passport to do an activity and as of March 28, 2022, vaccine passports are no longer required for any activities at McGill. If you have any concerns about your privacy or if you feel like your rights were or are violated, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you test positive for COVID-19: In general, you should self-isolate and inform your work supervisor as soon as possible. DO NOT show up to work a shift if you are sick, think you may be sick, or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It is within your rights under 17.06 of the Collective Agreement to cancel your shift in case of illness. Further, if you believe you were infected with COVID-19 as a result of your employment as an Invigilator, please contact us at email@example.com.
If you believe your right to a safe working environment is being violated because students, supervisors, or fellow Invigilators are not respecting COVID-19 protocols, it is within your rights to refuse unsafe work. You have the right to refuse work that would expose yourself or others to danger to health, safety, or physical well-being. A worker cannot refuse to work if their refusal puts the life, health, safety, or physical well-being of someone else in immediate danger.
How to Refuse Unsafe Work
If you believe your work environment is unsafe and you wish to refuse work—it can even be a refusal of a kind of work, or working in a particular place—you must notify your supervisor or a representative of McGill that you are refusing work, and indicate why you are refusing work. This refusal can be done a number of ways, but we suggest informing your supervisor via email, and copying AGSEM (firstname.lastname@example.org). A representative from McGill—most likely HR—will then contact AGSEM, as AGSEM is your labour union. If AGSEM and McGill are not able to find a solution to the problem, AGSEM will ask that a Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) inspector decide if there is an unsafe situation that justifies a worker refusing to work. The inspector's decision is effective immediately, but McGill, AGSEM, and you (the worker) have the option of requesting that the CNESST review the decision in question.
Know Your Rights: General
1. Applying for a job
You can apply for final exam postings for 7 days after they are posted. All invigilation positions must be publicly posted on a centralised website, such as Workday.
Previous invigilation experience at McGill gives you hiring priority. Top hiring priority is given to those who have passed their probation period in the Hiring Unit by being continuously employed for more than 2 terms. Next, priority is given to those with any previous experience in the Hiring Unit, then to those with experience invigilating elsewhere at McGill. If your application is rejected in favour of someone with a lower hiring priority, the decision can be contested.
An employee who, without valid reason, is absent or fails to notify their immediate supervisor of their absence as soon as possible but no later than (2) hours prior to the beginning of a confirmed assigned examination shift, on two (2) occasions in an Academic Term, is deemed to have resigned and loses all hiring priority.
You should fill out your online AGSEM membership form to the Hiring Unit after training or before your first shift.
Every invigilator is entitled to paid training before they begin their first appointment in that Hiring Unit. Invigilators will be compensated at the standard rate for the length of the training session.
Invigilator duties and responsibilities will be clearly stated during the training sessions organised by the Hiring Unit. Any additional instructions specific to a given exam will be provided at the beginning of a given shift.
3. Shift length and breaks
All invigilation shifts need to be at least one hour longer than the length of the exam (4 hours for a 3-hour final exam). If you have not received training before your first shift, you must also be given time before the start of your shift for training.
Unless unusual circumstances make it impossible to do so, you must be given a 15-minute paid break for every consecutive four hours you work, in addition to a 30-minute unpaid lunch break for every 8 hours you work within a single day.
If you are scheduled for a shift, you cannot be asked to give it up because too many people have been scheduled.
If you are unable to make your scheduled shift, make sure to inform your supervisor as soon as possible and at least two hours in advance of the start of the shift (unless in case of emergency or other justified absence). Failure to do so may result in termination and loss of priority.
Until December 11, the minimum rate of pay for invigilators is $14.25 per hour, including 4% vacation pay, effective May 1st 2019. After three years of continuous service, vacation pay increases to 6%.
As of December 11, our new hourly rate of pay of $15.75 plus 6% vacation for all invigilators ($16.70) comes into effect.
You are entitled to be paid for every hour you work. You cannot be asked to arrive early for a scheduled shift, or to stay late, without being paid. However, you should not expect to be paid extra if you arrive at work before your supervisor tells you to show up, or if you continue to work beyond the end of your shift. If you find that you do not have enough time to complete all tasks required, clarify with your supervisor whether or not you will continue to be paid for any extra time.
The University must pay you an overtime premium of 50% if you cumulatively work more than 40 hours in a week at all jobs at McGill, including invigilation. Because of this, you are required to list any other job appointments you hold at McGill on your application form.
5. Leaves of Absence
All invigilators are entitled to a number of unpaid leaves (as well as paid bereavement leaves). Unpaid leave is available in cases of illness, as well as to attend an academic conference if requested by your supervisor at McGill, provided that you give notice before the beginning of your shift. Unpaid leave means that you cannot be penalised for missing work, and will be allowed to accumulate hiring priority.
6. Protecting your rights
As a union we have a number of tools to protect your rights. The Collective Agreement describes a grievance procedure for resolving disputes in cases where you feel your rights are not being respected. As a union we are here to help you at every point in this process and can accompany you for any disciplinary meetings. Email email@example.com if you have any questions.
All members should be aware of the deadlines for grievances. To be able to ensure that we can protect you, we need to be able to prepare a grievance file within 30 days of learning about any incident where you believe your rights have been violated. Any potential grievance involving harassment, discrimination, and/or sexual violence can be filed within 2 years.