News  MUNACA to file complaint against McGill

Labour Board to decide whether the University acted in bad faith

MUNACA plans to file a complaint before the Quebec Labour Board early next week after failing to come to an understanding with the University regarding the interpretation of an article of the union’s collective agreement.

The parties have been reviewing the wording and interpretation of the union’s collective agreement from December 5, 2011, when it was ratified, to February 17 when the process stalled at Article 23.10.

Under the article any MUNACA employee who is paid over their salary maximum will no longer receive salary increases, but will instead receive lump sum payments amounting to cost of living increases relative to their salary. These lump sum payments will be payable to the employee’s pension.

MUNACA President Kevin Whittaker said the union was presented with the new interpretation of the article on November 26, 2011.

“We specifically told [McGill] that…the modification to the Article 23.10 would be conditional on the number of people it would impact, and we need a list of who those people are,” he said. The union received a list of eighty employees who were already paid higher than their salary maximum.

“After analyzing that list we realized these people were already at their grandfathered max so there was no detrimental impact on them,” said Whittaker.

Union executive VP Finance David Kalant explained the decision. “We’ve accepted that these people should be red-circled [subject to the new Article 23.10] since it doesn’t make sense that salaries already above the maximum of the job scale should keep going up. They will be held constant until the job scale catches up to them,” he wrote in an email to The Daily.

Once the job scale catches up to the employee they will begin receiving salary increases again.

However, on February 17, McGill told the union that 48 employees would be added to the initial list of those affected by Article 23.10. When, three weeks later, the union had not yet received the names of those employees, they held a demonstration on campus.

On the following Monday, McGill presented MUNACA with a list of names. Both parties met on March 15 to discuss the list.

Whittaker said that the union’s team “specifically asked” for a rationale as to why the 48 names were excluded from the original list. The University declined to comment on the March 15 meeting to The Daily.

“And we said, ‘Well, the onus was on you to tell us that this was not a complete list, because we asked for a complete list,’” Whittaker said.

In an interview on March 12, McGill Director of Employee Relations Robert Comeau  said that the union and McGill “never agreed on a number.” According to Comeau, the list was “provided, yes. Agreed to, no.”

“We provided the list of employees as an example of that situation,” he continued.

Whittaker said the additional 48 people had been added to the list for a “number of reasons.” He said that “every single one of the new people are problems,” though he noted that all 48 names are also receiving salaries greater than their position’s salary maximum.

“Our problem [is that] had that complete list been submitted we would never have agreed to it,” said Whittaker. “They were misleading us, giving us information that we would see, that would not truly negatively impact on our members, and withholding that which they knew would have been a deal breaker.”

Whittaker said a common reason for adding some of the 48 names was the abolition of an employee’s position in a higher job class – an occurrence that he stated happens frequently.

When an employee is relocated to a lower job class – if they have job security – they maintain their previous salary, Whittaker explained.

However, with the new interpretation of Article 23.10, Whittaker stated that employees placed in lower job classes would not be able to receive salary increases while occupying the lower position, as their salary would likely exceed the maximum salary for their new position.

Comeau told The Daily on March 12 that the only criteria for adding names to the list is “if they are paid over the maximum of their current salary.”