News  McGill, AMUSE reach agreement

Nearly a year of negotiations concludes with first ever collective agreement

After nearly a year of negotiations, McGill has reached a tentative agreement on its first collective agreement with the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) on Wednesday.

If ratified, the agreement will last for three years. The union was formed over two years ago, and represents roughly 1,500 part-time and casual employees at McGill.

The agreement came after four meetings with a conciliator appointed by the Quebec Commission des normes du travail. AMUSE President Jaime Maclean described the end of the negotiation process as “a huge relief.”

“[The agreement] means that we’ll be able to make a real change and to really, really help our members in a way that we can’t when we don’t have a collective agreement,” said Maclean.

“It’s the beginning of us moving forward as a strong labour union,” she continued.

Both the union and McGill have agreed to not release any details of the agreement until after the union’s ratification vote. Maclean said she expects the vote to be held within the next few weeks.

Farid Attar Rifai, member of the AMUSE bargaining team and former union president, said in a statement released yesterday that all the union’s bargaining priorities have been met.

“A first agreement is always a long process, and we’re pleased to have achieved all six of our bargaining priorities through bargaining. However, it’s up to the membership to decide whether it’s a satisfactory deal,” reads the statement.

Associate Vice-Principal (Human Resources) Lynne Gervais also commented on the agreement in a statement released yesterday.

“The University is satisfied that a deal was reached with AMUSE without having to revert to arbitration,” said Gervais in the statement.

The agreement is the third that the University has reached with campus unions this academic year. McGill settled new collective agreements with teaching assistants in November, as well as non-academic workers after a semester-long strike.

McGill has also been in negotiations with invigilators for almost a year. The bargaining unit representing invigilators is awaiting word from the provincial mediator to start arbitration hearings. The two parties last met January 30, and invigilators almost held a strike vote before exams last December.

AMUSE’s agreement comes as students across Quebec mobilize against five years of tuition increases scheduled to begin this September. Many of the union’s members are students with part-time jobs at McGill.

44 associations, representing over 53,000 students, are currently on strike.

Maclean said AMUSE has yet to take an official position regarding the strike.

“It’s normal for labour unions to be involved in movements like this,” said Maclean.

“I know that the [Public Service Alliance of Canada], who is our parent union, often puts out statements of support,” she continued. “It’s definitely in our mandate to know what’s going on with the movement, and then to take a decision on how involved we’ll get.”

with files from Erin Hudson