As a result of a pay equity agreement with McGill, over the next six months, AMUSE must find and contact almost 10,000 union members who worked for the University at some point in the past eight years in order to distribute retroactive payments. The agreement, signed in December 2018, follows a long process of negotiations.
A 2010 pay equity report published by the University’s Pay Equity Commission was the driving force behind these payments. The report was conducted following the guidelines of the Quebec Pay Equity Act, which requires all businesses to review employee data every five years to ensure its continued compliance with pay equity standards.
The basic principle of pay equity is to ensure that predominantly female job classes receive compensation equal to predominantly male job classes that demand similar duties and responsibilities. According to the Act, the purpose of pay equity is “to redress difference[s] in compensation due to systemic gender discrimination.” The Pay Equity Act divides jobs into “male class” and “female class” distinctions. This is relevant to AMUSE as male and female job classes would normally be compared within the institution itself, but given that all AMUSE jobs are female-predominant, differences in compensation were judged using the popular HAY point methodology.
Following the University’s release of their 2010 report in 2015, AMUSE filed an official union complaint. AMUSE claimed the report was completed improperly, and consequently, was inaccurate to workplace realities.
They challenged the lack of attention given to the benefits that different job classes receive, including health plans, life insurance, and vacation days. The University also grouped many dissimilar jobs into a single sweeping category entitled “Casual,” which may have made an accurate comparison between job classes unattainable. AMUSE also challenged the exclusion of Floor Fellows from the report.
AMUSE and the University agreed to meet in October 2016 to attempt to create a resolution for this dispute. In April 2017, AMUSE proposed a settlement offer which did not receive a response. Also in 2017, McGill’s 2015 pay equity report was released, and the Union found the same errors as in the 2010 report, and proceeded to file another complaint.
AMUSE proceeded to work on two separate courses of action: creating a Pay Equity Committee to revise the pay equity reports and establish a committee review process for future pay equity reports conducted by McGill, and working on a pay equity settlement between the University and AMUSE. In spring 2018, AMUSE and the University began negotiations on the settlement. The settlement included:
- $40,000 given to AMUSE to fund their search for the roughly 10,000 former and current employees that are to receive retroactive payments from the University. The Union has six months to find and contact past members. As AMUSE notes in their annual report, “the $40,000 was asked for because it gives AMUSE an average of 15 minutes to contact each of the 10,000 members included in the settlement, assuming payment to the person contacted of $15/hour.”
- A 7.5 per cent raise for current AMUSE employees. The University did not agree to the Union’s proposed Pay Equity Committee review process. They claimed that they could not agree to such a program at the time since negotiations were ongoing with other groups. The University also did not agree to including Floor Fellows in the settlement based on the claim that Floor Fellowship is not a job class that was predominantly female, though the Union’s 2017 list of members who paid dues showed otherwise.
The Daily spoke to Meaghan Rye, an AMUSE member and employee for McGill Intramurals, who was compensated through the retroactive payments, as well as the raise for current employees.
For Meaghan, this money was entirely unexpected, and will go towards her next semester of tuition. Rye told the Daily, “we don’t really have too much contact with AMUSE, we know they’re there and I guess they do a lot of work in the background. Now with this, we get to see how much work they’re actually putting in for us.”