«A Message from the President Our union is marked by several significant challenges: the term „casual‟ trivializes both the work performed by our ...»
A Casual Employee’s Guide to
Working at McGill
The AMUSE Handbook
We would like to thank everyone who has been involved with AMUSE, from the
earliest initiative to the present day. None of the progress that we have made
would have been possible without the initial support of social activists in the
A Message from the President
Our union is marked by several significant challenges: the term „casual‟ trivializes
both the work performed by our members but also the role that our members play in the day to day activities of the university, the high turn over of our membership makes it difficult to build both a strong knowledge base among members meaning that education is a constant effort, and the youth of our union means that we are still working to establish our long term vision and goals. These challenges create an interesting dynamic for us to work with the structure of a union and opportunities for creativity expanding beyond a union‟s traditional tactics.
When we think of a labour union‟s traditional role in the workplace it is often a much different picture than that of AMUSE. Hundreds of members working in different departments and buildings, across two distinct campuses, with a variety of daily duties, tasks, and responsibilities. The university may use the word „casual‟ to describe us, but the role that AMUSE members hold at McGill is much more than casual. The AMUSE membership is as deeply imbedded in the McGill community as any other group, working hard to keep the university functioning.
Many of our members not only work at the university but study as well, which is a significant change from the way in which most workers see their employer. This position in the McGill community gives us the opportunity to build solidarity with other unions on campus as well as with students, an opportunity that we are currently working to strengthen.
Have you ever been a member of a union before? If your answer is „no‟ then you are in good company. With this guide we hope to educate and encourage you to look further into this union and the labour movement as a whole. What does becoming a union member mean? That is for each individual member to decide, however, being a member of a union gives you access to resources, information, and a community. Everyone is entitled to fair working conditions and an ally in their workplace.
In Solidarity, Jaime MacLean President AMUSE What is AMUSE?
The Association of McGill University Support Employees is a labour union that represents „casual‟ or „temporary‟ employees at McGill. This includes both students and non-students in part-time and full-time positions. In fact, around 35% of casual employees are non-students. In total, our approximately 1500-strong members make up about 55% of McGill‟s non-academic employees.
AMUSE is a directly chartered local of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), one of the largest public sector unions in Canada. The PSAC provides council and legal support, strengthening AMUSE from the first steps of unionization, the signing of the first Collective Agreement and on to the everyday functions of an effective union.
The union was founded and is administered by casual employees at McGill. We ground our advocacy on the principles of shared humanity, respect, and fairness, within the specific goals of protecting and improving working conditions and labour rights.
Background The initial union drive began in the Fall of 2008 with the intention to unionize work study employees. However, the movement grew to include non-student workers as part of the bargaining unit. The referendum held by the Quebec Labour Board began in October 2009 and 85% of casual workers voted in support of the union. AMUSE was accredited in January 2010. The first General Meeting was held in May 2010. The members elected the first Executive Committee and approved the By-Laws governing the union.
The purpose of a new union is to negotiate a Collective Agreement to improve members‟ working conditions. AMUSE`s negotiations with McGill University began in March 2011 and lasted until February 2012. Our first Collective Agreement was officially signed on April __, 2012. We thus enter into a new phase in AMUSE‟s existence: to ensure the smooth transition into the new working conditions of the Collective Agreement and make sure that all rights and obligations are respected by all parties.
Unionization of the University Sector in Québec The founding of AMUSE is part of a wider movement of unionizing university student workers across Quebec. The current wave of unionization in Quebec began in 2004 when a growing number of students working on campuses became increasingly dissatisfied with their general working conditions. Many of the problems that they wanted to address concerned rate of pay, hours worked and job security. The students also had to face the reality that despite the growing number of students working as support staff, they did not receive the protections and bargaining rights of a union. The work conditions resulting from this pattern drove student workers to initiate union drives.
AMUSE is one of the latest labour unions at McGill accredited by the Quebec Labour Board. Another union at McGill that has been recently accredited is AMURE (Association McGill University Research Employees), which represents some 1200 Research Associates and Assistants. Currently there are three unions at McGill that are directly chartered locals of the PSAC: AMUSE, AMURE and MUNACA (support non-academic staff).
AMUSE now sits in the interunion council which consists of a number of labour and student unions in McGill Univeristy, namely MUNACA, AMURE, AGSEM (TAs, course lecturers, and invigilators), SSMU, and PGSS. The purpose of the council is to share information and build solidarity and advocacy amoungst all members of the University.
How does AMUSE Work?
The union governs on democratic principles. It is kept alive through the participation of a network of members who serve in the various governing bodies of AMUSE.
The day-to-day functions of the union are performed by the Executive Committee, consisting of
President Vice President Secretariat and Communications Officer Treasurer Labour Relations Officer The Executive Committee works with both internal and external groups to serve the union‟s daily operational needs.
The Board of Representatives oversees the work of the Executive Committee and is responsible for the constitutional and legal matters of the Union. This consists of Chief Stewards and the Executive.
The union is governed at the highest level by the membership through the Annual General Meeting. Regulations concerning the internal organization of the union are decided either through the Annual General Meeting or through a Special General Meeting called by the Board of Representatives., such as the election of the Executive Committee, Chief Stewards, amendments of the Bylaws.
Both the Executive Committee and the Board of Representatives can appoint committees that are assigned to deal with specific issues faced by the union. Currently there are standing committees on the Constitution, Equity, and Mobilization. Other committees such as the Bargaining Committee are elected by the membership for the duration of collective bargaining.
AMUSE also sits at the Labour Relations Committee with representatives of McGill‟s Human Resources. This is where grievances and other work related problems are discussed in view of the Collective Agreement and regulations from the Quebec Labour Board.
What is a Steward?
Stewards are the eyes, ears and limbs of the union, directly interacting with the membership and representing their concerns and aspirations. The stewards are the cornerstones of any union, and are present across departments to make sure that employees‟ rights are not being infringed upon and are a friendly face for anyone with questions about their work conditions, their rights as workers and members of AMUSE, and the union.
A steward acts as a resource for both the membership and the Labour Relations Officer and any member is eligible to become a steward. All stewards have the opportunity to sit on the Board of Representatives.
AMUSE’s Board of Representatives The Board of Representatives (BoR) is the second highest governing body of the union after the Annual General Meeting.
The BoR is made up of ten Chief Stewards and the five members of the Executive Committee, and meets once every two months. Its duties are to recommend and approve internal policies and regulations, form committees and to ensure that the union continues to serve the best interests of its members.
Attendance to BoR meetings are open to all members of AMUSE. We encourage you to attend if you want to raise your concerns or questions directly to the Executive Committee and Stewards or if you just want to know better how AMUSE works.
Invitations to the BoR Meetings are sent through our mailing list and are posted in our website.
AMUSE Committees! Get Involved!
Committees are open to all members and are a great way to get involved with the Union on specific issues. No prior experience is necessary, and employees who wish to participate will be liberated from work obligations as per Article 10 of the Collective
Agreement. There are currently three committees to get involved with:
Dues/Financial Auditing Committee: The Dues Committee was formed to review AMUSE‟s dues collecting process, and will continue to meet to monitor the Union‟s spending prospectively and retrospectively.
Equity Committee: This committee will deal with a variety of equity issues, from working on an internal policy to providing a forum for questions and complaints from members on matters of Pay Equity, Employment Equity, and equity issues in the workplace as a whole Constitution Committee: This committee was formed early on to review our By-Laws and propose changes to the Board of Representatives. As our union grows we find ways in which the By-Laws should be expanded and modified to reflect the everyday business of the union. This is a standing committee that will work on a variety of issues over the coming months.
To get involved in any of these committees, please contact the President at firstname.lastname@example.org The Collective Agreement The Collective Agreement (CA) is the result of a year of negotiations between the Unviersity and AMUSE with the goal of improving the work conditions of all members of the union. Upholding the agreement is a collaborative process between the union, the university and the membership. The full text is available at www.amusemcgill.org
All employees are guaranteed the following:
A detailed, written contract The opportunity to sign a union card Compensation for legal holidays 4% vacation pay A 1% wage increase as of April 20th, 2012, (Unless a wage increase was already given previously in 2012) The right to request the presence of a union representative at any meeting with any supervisors.
Adequate on the job paid training.
In addition, our membership is divided into three groups based on their conditions. It
breaks down like this:
GROUP 1 – Full Time workers with a contract of six months or more replacing a
MUNACA employee. Employees in Group 1 ought to:
1. Receive at minimum the entry-level salary of the MUNACA position they are replacing. (check out www.amusemcgill.org for salary details) st
2. Starting June 1 of every year, accumulate one paid sick day per month, to a maximum of six sick days, which, if unused, expire on May 31st of every year Recieve written notice that you have passed your probationary period after 60 days worked.
- Have hiring priority over external candidates, once you pass your probationary period.
- Receive a paid indemnity of approximately double your daily salary for working the day before, the day of, or the day after a legal holiday. (See article 26 in the C.A. for details) GROUP 2 – Full Time worker on a contract of less than six months replacing a
MUNACA employee. Group 2 employees ought to:
- Earn at least 80% of the entry-level salary of the MUNACA position they are filling. (www.amusemcgill.org for salary details)
- Receive a paid indemnity of approximately double your daily salary for working the day before, the day of, or the day after a legal holiday. (See article 26 in the C.A. for details)
- Become a Group 1 employee if their contract is extended beyond 6 months.
GROUP 3 – All other workers (part-time, full-time not replacing MUNACA employees) Employees in Group 3 are divided into three classes, depending on the tasks they
Q. What is a Collective Agreement?
R. A legal contract between the employees and employer that spells out the rights and obligations of both parties.
Q. How do I know if I am a member of AMUSE?
R. AMUSE represents what McGill calls “casual non-academic” employees. If this phrase appears on your paystub then you are included in the bargaining unit.
Q. Will being in a union change my job?
R. No; the Quebec Labour Code (section 59) forbids the change of working conditions following the accreditation of a union. If you‟ve noticed a change of your working conditions since January 2010, please notify us immediately.
Q. I noticed a deduction on my paycheque. What is it for?
R. Like all labour unions, AMUSE collects dues that contribute to the daily administration and resources needed to sustain the union‟s advocacy and support roles, such as negotiating for and ensuring the implementation of the Collective Agreement, responding to grievances and keeping in touch with the concerns and interests of members.
Q. Why do I have to sign a membership card?
R. By law all casual employees are included in the bargaining unit, but workers are only formal members of the union if they have signed a membership card. Members have the right to vote at the General Meeting, run for executive positions and to be part of committees, and keep the union representative and accountable.
Q. What do I do if I think that my rights are being infringed upon in my workplace?
R. The first course of action in this situation is to talk to your manager in your workplace.