News  McGill casual employees ratify first ever collective agreement

Overwhelming vote ends nearly a year of negotiations

Last Thursday, members of the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) voted 96 per cent in favour of accepting the tentative agreement reached between the union and McGill in late February.

AMUSE was accredited in January of 2010, and represents all casual non-academic employees at McGill, many of whom are students or temporary full-time workers.

According to a press release issued by AMUSE on Monday, “the union looks forward to working with the membership to implement the agreement in fairness and to suit the diverse needs of all members.”

The agreement, which comes after almost a year of negotiations between the union and the University, includes all six of AMUSE’s bargaining priorities, including fair wage increases, priority for AMUSE members for contract renewals and promotions, paid overtime, and paid sick leave.

The agreement will last three years, and ends in 2015.

According to AMUSE President Jaime Maclean, “it was a really basic agreement, our first collective agreement, so there’s not a lot to take issue with.”

However, she added that “there are certain concerns that we will be keeping in mind for the next time we negotiate.”

Farid Attar Rifai, former president of AMUSE, has been a member of the AMUSE bargaining team since before the union entered negotiations with McGill in March 2011.

Although “not very many people” came out to the ratification vote, Attar Rifai explained that “I think it does reflect the general sentiments of casual workers.”

Under Quebec Labour Law, there is no quorum for ratification votes.

The union’s new agreement defines the salary structure for casual employees into three groups, of which most students working part-time will fall into the “all other casual employees” group.

These employees will be divided into three classes – A, B, and C – depending on their job requirements and expertise, receiving minimum rates of pay of $10, $11, and $12 per hour respectively.

“There will be no improvements on the collective agreement, it’s set in stone so to speak,” Rifai Attar explained. “The task of the executives and stewards of AMUSE right now is to ensure compliance from the managers – it’s a huge change and there’s going to be overhaul in the way a lot of departments manage casual workers.”

“You can’t go wrong with the current situation, because there’s a lack of uniform policy at McGill, a lack of sometimes basic right,” he added. “The fact that we were able to put into wording things that were informally given in some departments…was a good thing for a lot of the casuals.”