At the last meeting between the floor fellow bargaining unit of the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) and the administration, the floor fellows, unable to accept what the administration brought to the table, ended negotiations early.
Both parties are now preparing to resume negotiations, although it is not yet known when a collective agreement will be reached. The McGill floor fellows unionized under AMUSE and became an established bargaining unit last May, and negotiations between the administration and the unit began on October 31.
The floor fellow bargaining unit aims to attain greater autonomy and job security, and to ensure that the collective agreement reflects its core values. Although a full list of specific demands has not been released, AMUSE VP Floor Fellow Christina Clemente told The Daily that the bargaining team has drafted a set of core values that they believe are central to the floor fellows’ philosophy.
“We had a vision set for what we would not budge on, specifically the inclusion of our core values,” said Clemente. “Two in particular that we are really keen on fighting for is the anti-oppressive mandate and framework as well as the harm reduction approach.”
“Our main priorities are [to ensure] that floor fellows have a degree of power in residence decision-making processes, [increase] job and housing security of floor fellows, recognize and formalize the use of anti-oppression and harm reduction in our roles, protect our autonomy in our roles and our flexible work schedules, ensure [that] we do not come to hold disciplinary roles in residences, and ensure that we are remunerated in a way that complies with [the] Quebec labour code,” continued Clemente.
A key issue of contention with many floor fellows has been the implementation of three full-time Rez Life managers for McGill’s downtown residences this fall. Prior to this change, each of McGill’s nine residences had its own part-time live-in hall director.
“[…] We are really keen on fighting for is the anti-oppressive mandate and framework as well as the harm reduction approach.”
“We want to make sure that someone new in a position of power is not able to come in and completely change the system to, for example, what you see in the U.S. school system with ticketing for the use of [illegal] substances,” said Evan McIlroy, who is one of two elected bargaining representatives for the floor fellows.
When asked about the administration’s response to the demands, McIlroy remarked that “we’ve had a surprising amount of frustration in getting [the administration] to solidify past practices. I think we expected less resistance in terms of putting our values in the agreement.”
The parties are holding a discussion after each bargaining session. So far, three discussions have occurred, focusing on “the purpose of the agreement, union recognition, management rights and definitions,” according to McGill’s Director of Labour and Employee Relations Robert Comeau.
Comeau commented on the administration’s participation in the bargaining process in an interview with The Daily.
“The administration is striving for flexibility and agility in how the collective agreement will be managed, and in maintaining the same quality of service to students.” Addressing the roadblock in negotiations at the last meeting, Comeau remarked that the first collective agreement of a new bargaining unit usually results in a longer negotiation process.
According to Clemente, the timeline for the bargaining process is still developing. “We ideally wanted to be done by the end of this academic year,” she said. “That being said, it is still very early in the bargaining process. We still have a long way to go.”