French translation will be posted to the AGSEM website within 24 hours.
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 new Collective Agreement, which is now in effect! We are also going to be tabling a few exam sessions, as well as hosting a pizza party for invigilators on April 28!
For any other issues or questions that come up, feel free to email Teresa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 your labour union. Your union 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!
Save the date! Invigilator Pizza Party on April 28!
Your union, AGSEM, is hosting a pizza party for invigilators to celebrate the end of the exam period! If you currently work or have worked as an invigilator in the past 12 months and have signed your membership form, you are a member of AGSEM and you are invited!
The pizza party will be in the Rutherford Physics Building, room 103 from 6:30-8:30pm on April 28. Please RSVP on our website and let us know your favourite toppings so we can make sure we have enough for everyone!
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 swag, and KN95 masks.
When and 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) - April 18-21, at least one shift per day
Law building - April 25, 9am
Bronfman foyer - April 18 and April 26, 7-8pm
Leacock building - April 24-28, TBD
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.
New Collective Agreement: Now in full effect!
A Collective Agreement (CA) is a binding contract negotiated by representatives of AGSEM and representatives of McGill’s Board of Governors.
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 Collective Agreement was signed on March 31, and is now in effect! The full text of the new Collective Agreement will be posted on our website as soon as McGill provides us with the official PDF.
Here is a summary of the main changes, including many key wins:
New Rate of Pay
The new hourly rate of pay of $15.75 plus 6% vacation ($16.70) is in effect.
Some hiring units have started paying the new rate directly to invigilators. Others are adhering to the following delays:
McGill must apply the raise within (30) working days of the signature of the Collective Agreement. If you do not receive the new wage directly, it will come to you in the form of a retroactive payment.
You will also be paid with a retroactive payment for all hours worked between December 11, 2022 and March 31. This will be processed within ninety (90) working days of the signing of the Collective Agreement.
If you see any discrepancies with retroactive pay or experience any delays in your regular pay or retroaction, contact Teresa at firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP so she can help you get your money!
Next Raise: May 1, 2023
The invigilator wage will increase again on May 1, 2023 to $16.50 plus 6% vacation ($17.23).
Wages will increase every May 1 until the Collective Agreement expires in 2025:
May 1, 2024: $17.00 plus 6% vacation ($18.02)
May 1, 2025: $18.00 plus 6% vacation ($19.08)
The total pay increase is 26.2% between November 2022 and May 2025.
Paid Breaks: Extra pay if you can’t take yours!
You already had a 15-minute paid break for every 4 hours of work. Now, if you are unable to take your break, you will receive an additional 15 minutes worth of pay for that shift.
Remember to add 15 minutes to your timesheet whenever you are unable to take your paid break because of overwork.
The method of scheduling, timing, or taking breaks will be determined in each hiring unit and communicated to you during your shift.
Membership Form: Now online!
Your membership form to the union can now be signed online: membership form. Remember to sign your form every semester.
Invigilators vs. Circulators
The job of circulator / float has now been further defined to include relieving invigilators so they may take their breaks.
Whenever possible, invigilators and circulators / floats will be provided with something that will identify them in their roles.
Unexcused Absences / “No-Shows”
If you are absent or fail to notify your supervisor of an absence at least 1 business day before an exam shift 2 times in an academic term or 3 times in an Academic Year, you will lose your priority status in that unit for the next hiring period.
A business day is Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm.
It remains the case: in an emergency situation or with a valid excuse, you can be absent for a shift without 1 business day’s notice. Make sure you communicate with your supervisor as soon as possible if you are running late or must be absent!
It has always been the case that while you are under probation, you can be terminated from your position without being able to contest the termination, unless the termination is based on a discriminatory motive.
Top hiring priority is given to those who have passed their probation period in that hiring unit.
Previously, you passed your probation after working 2 consecutive academic terms and getting hired for a third.
Now, you pass your probation once you have worked a total of 25 hours in that hiring unit. You have up to three consecutive terms to work 25 hours.
Training does not count towards the hours of your probationary period.
If, at the end of the 25 hours, your supervisor decides you did not meet the requirements for the position, they will meet with you to explain their reasoning. You have the right to bring a union representative to this meeting.
The employer is encouraged to use a verbal warning before engaging in the disciplinary process.
The employer must notify the union and employee in writing within 45 calendar days of knowledge of the action that caused the disciplinary measure (written reprimand, suspension, or dismissal).
There shall be at least 2 business days’ notice of any disciplinary meetings. Both the employee and the union will be invited in writing, and the employee shall have the right to be accompanied by one union representative.
After 12 months, if there are no further disciplinary measures, previous disciplinary measures shall be removed from the employee’s file.
You can request to see the entire contents of your employment file, and this request will be processed within 14 calendar days.
Employees with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations, for any part of the application process or during the course of their appointment, may contact the Hiring Unit Designee or the Disability Management Team in Pensions & Benefits (Human Resources) at email@example.com.
Employment files containing information about an Employee's disability and accommodations shall be treated as personal and confidential information.
Invigilators no longer need to inform their immediate supervisor to file a grievance if their rights are violated.
The delay to file a grievance has been increased from 30 days to 40 calendar days of knowledge that your rights were violated.
If you feel like your rights have been violated, want advice, or you would like to understand the grievance process better, email Teresa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Provisions against Harassment, Discrimination and Sexual Violence
The Collective Agreement now contains explicit protections against discrimination in the workplace, including systemic discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, religion, Indigenous identity, ethnicity, disability or class.
Employees can initiate a report under University Policies as well as a grievance under the Invigilator Collective Agreement at the same time.
Employees have the right to be accompanied at all steps of a grievance, disclosure, report, or complaint by their Union Delegate.
Any grievance relating to harassment, discrimination or sexual violence may be filed within 2 years after the last incident.
Know Your Rights: COVID-19
AGSEM is advocating for a safe and sanitary working environment for invigilators during the Winter 2023 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 email@example.com. Do not take photos of any confidential material or other people without their consent.
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.
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. 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, let us know!
Keep in mind, 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 10 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. 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 1 business day prior to the beginning of a confirmed assigned examination shift, on two (2) occasions in an Academic Term, is deemed to have lost all hiring priority for the next term. A business day is Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm.
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. It is now your right to be paid for an additional 15 minutes per shift, if you are unable to take your break.
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 one business day in advance of the start of the shift (unless in case of emergency or other justified absence). Failure to do so may result in loss of hiring priority for next term.
As of December 11, our new hourly rate of pay of $15.75 plus 6% vacation for all invigilators ($16.70) is in 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 40 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.
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 at the TA rate.
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.